A Northfield company aiming to accelerate local food production is being recognized as one of Minnesota’s most promising startups.

Healthy Share GBC began delivering locally grown and organic food to its customers in Lakeville and Farmington a year and half ago. Now its subscribers extend from Eden Prairie to Eagan and down to Mankato, and Healthy Share has been named a semifinalist in the Minnesota Cup competition, the largest statewide entrepreneurial contest in the U.S.

The Minnesota Cup is coordinated by the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and has awarded more than $4 million in seed money to startups since 2005. Healthy Share is among companies competing for more than $400,000 of funding this year.

Healthy Share founder and Northfield resident Jim Gehrke is no stranger to the contest. He received the Minnesota Cup’s top award for social entrepreneur in 2013.

“I’m thrilled to be back in the race,” Gehrke said. “It’s an extraordinarily beneficial opportunity to gather feedback from knowledgeable people and fine tune a business plan.”

Healthy Share is a semi-finalist in the Minnesota Cup’s Impact Ventures category, showcasing companies that aim to make a positive impact on society. Gehrke said Healthy Share is a “general benefit corporation,” a relatively new type of business entity that’s designed to have a positive impact rather than merely seek profit.

Gehrke said 59 percent of Healthy Share’s annual food purchases were from farms within about 150 miles in 2020. This year he expects about 65 percent of Healthy Share’s food to come from within that radius.

Gehrke said Healthy Share is increasingly popular with the general public, and is also being looked at as a highly efficient model for delivering healthy food to underserved communities.

Healthy Share is the centerpoint of a $200,000 Bush Foundation grant to increase access to healthy and indigenous foods for Prairie Island Indian Community. Healthy Share is working with the National Indian Carbon Coalition, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, public benefit corporation LICO2e and non-profit Slipsteam to outline energy requirements and document actual and potential energy conservation gains for Prairie Island’s local food system.

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