Community Partnerships
& seasonal promotions: squash, maple, aronia syrup
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Sweet Clover Market cross promotes VT with national products for super easy dinners

Grocers: Community Partnerships Increasing Sales
Over the past 31 weeks, stores across the state have operated creatively beyond the normal framework needed to run a grocery store. What we are seeing is the capacity for teams to work under pressure undertaking enormous changes. Stores with better systems in place have fared the best. Through collaborative problem-solving, strong teamwork alignment, established operating procedures, & good communication tools they navigated daily decisions.
By their nature, small stores have crammed spaces where employees work in close contact. Back rooms are areas of high activity including receiving, produce prep, organizing credit-returns, ordering & forward buying of inventory. In pre-covid times this was a challenge. Fast forward to 6 feet distance between workers, mask wearing, relentless hand washing & sanitizing. We do not often think about the back room where organization has made the difference in operating efficiency & now where so much “figuring it out” takes place.
Covid has helped stores better manage inventory while undertaking monumental ongoing creative decision making. With a change of seasons & upcoming holiday unknowns, covid fatigue is a real factor for staff. Maintaining creative decision challenges teams. However, many stores are staying on course meeting these challenges & fully engaging with their customer base. In this issue we highlight a few examples of creative partnerships & inspiration. 
Outside Sweet Clover Market resides a free pantry fully stocked with a balanced mix of food. On any given day it might be local apples, oatmeal, canned goods, squash, tea, hot chocolate, soup, mac & cheese,
pasta, dried berries as well as a freezer with local meat. The SCM team appreciates the ongoing support from their shoppers to help keep it stocked. Across Chittenden County there are other little free pantries to spread the love. The small store actively promotes this & other connections through their
in-store promotions & social media outlets. 
JJ Hapgood a small grocery & eatery creates partnerships with other VT businesses for mutual promotion &
exposure. Due to covid many changes in both their café & grocery continues to result in creative thinking. Recently a pop up dinner with The Downtown Grocery sold out fast introducing regular shoppers to the Ludlow restaurant & vice versa. From oyster fests to expansion of family meals the reduced staff relies on inventive ideas & creativity to engage sales. Juliette at JJH thrives on bringing people together & relishes each little successful endeavor. They continue to seek partnerships with VT food manufacturers & businesses.
Together Putney General Store & Putney Coop engage in community action to help their local food shelf. Top the Truck is an annual opportunity for shoppers to order cases of the most requested foods at a bulk rate. This year with the impacts of the pandemic & the soon to end Farm to Family Food boxes the need is great. As with many of our VT independent & coop stores, they both take part in or organize outreach to their community.
Through all the decisions they have been making during covid, one that pleases the Brownesville Butcher & Pantry customers most might be the
return of Friday night pizzas. With this, happiness returns, along with a new growler program just in time for longer nights. Peter & Lauren love to serve their customers not only fabulous food, but great service. 3 cheers for pizza!
Green Mountain Farm Direct teams up for Neighbor to Neighbor community action
photo credit Karen Gowan

Green Mountain Farm Direct is a regional food hub in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom increasing access to healthy food by delivering from local farms & food producers to schools, restaurants, institutions & stores. Their approach is to partner with Farm Connex to boost sales of local products. Stores such as Willey’s, Kingdom Market, & Vista Foods increase sales of VT products through GMFD. If your store is looking to increase local products check out the route map, it may be a good fit.
GMFD has responded to increased needs in the charitable food system since March to help alleviate some of the pain around food security caused by Covid 19. A $5000 grant from the Green Mountain Fund has helped build alliances to get more food to more people through a delivery service. There is a strong partnership among stores, food producers & non-profits in the Neighbor to Neighbor program to meet the many needs in the rural communities. 
Just launched A new specialty product from Sisters of Anarchy. Known far & wide for their superior farm to cone ice cream shipped direct from the farm, they have extended their quests to include elderberry & aronia berry syrup & juice. From farm grown berries, these make for a perfect addition to fall salad dressings, spirited drinks, or over ice cream. Shipped direct to stores & online to consumers. You can find their ice cream at a limited number of select stores. Their small batch ice cream is totally unique, so is their new syrup.
We just had a banner weekend at sugar houses! Excellent foliage in the western part of the state dovetailed with great weather for The Maple 100. At this statewide showcase of activities & events, sugar makers offer maple-inspired products & provide hiking & biking on woodland trails in sugarbushes. List of participating sugarhouses.
Down on the farm
Located in the beautiful & remote Northeast Kingdom, Cate Hill Orchard is a small, diverse permaculture, organic family farm. Their orchard produces heirloom varieties of apples, sheep milk skyr & CBD salves, including their nearly famous Bear Fat Salve. The Skyr is sold locally to stores including the Buffalo Mountain Coop in Hardwick.

Champlain Orchards is back up & running after a brief covid-shutdown. Tons of apples, a zillion donuts fresh off the production line kept folks happy while surrounded by peak colors & flying geese. The orchard is fully up & running with their fleet of trucks making wholesale deliveries too. It is reported workers are doing well.
Farms across the state are selling winter squash to small & large stores for the quintessential fall produce display. Each squash is unique & it takes a bit of studying up to promote for specific uses in the kitchen. Home cooks or prepared foods departments have a wide selection of recipes available through VT Harvest of the Month.
A couple more things to consider

Vermont Fresh Network is working closely with restaurants & farms in the Everyone Eats statewide program. Funded through the federal CARES ACT it provides assistance to Vermonters who are food insecure due to COVID-19 public health emergency. It is designed to engage restaurants that have suffered economic harm by preparing meals using food purchased from Vermont farms & food producers.

Farm to Plate encourages all network partners to join our 10th Annual Gathering, November 12 & 13. A virtual experience this year will keep us all safe. Sign up & add your perspective to the many conversations. Grocers, distributors, farmers, VT food manufacturers & activists are encouraged to attend. Scholarships are available
Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow

Contact Annie H Harlow
to share your info & for food business resources

Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund
Week 31 of Covid October 15, 2020