Small Bites Feb 10, 2021
created for farmers, food manufacturers, distributors, grocers, & anyone else interested in how food moves
click "view entire message" for all the content
Located in the heart of Hardwick in the southern edge of the Northeast Kingdom, the Buffalo Mountain Coop is tooling along serving its community.
Prior to the pandemic, the store undertook big changes in leadership from a collective to having a general manager. With new insights & proposals the coop was aligning with new-found display & promotional opportunities. Protocols, staffing & organizational procedures were also shifting under new guidance.
Along comes the unforeseen measures to keep staff & the community safe in a small store. Now knowing what we know & with some hindsight, the small coop wouldn't change too much. With everyday bringing new variables, there are ongoing assessments & evaluations of services in an area of the state with active covid cases.
By looking at financials the Coop continues to service the community & make decisions that are in everyone's best interest. A few areas that continue as "service" include the Bulk Buying Program featuring discounts on top sellers across multiple categories with and a family meals program offering "best pricing" to meet labor & COGs while serving value-based healthy meals to its community.
With new buyers in several positions, the commitment to local foods buying is as strong as ever. Time is dedicated to purchasing from area distributors such as Myers Produce, making VT products more readily available to their customers. Through creative solutions & strong leadership, the team remains dynamic in the midst of the pandemic. 
Product Highlights
Potato Shed Donuts, are made in small batches with the idea of feeding the soul, as well as the community.
#communitymadedonuts serves the Hardwick community with fantastic donuts given away to those in need at the free pantry, are available by "dounghnation" at the production kitchen, & are for sale at the Buffalo Mountain Coop.
All across the state creativity has been an outcome of the pandemic & meeting community needs. Here is yet another example of giving. If you wonder why it’s called Potato Shed, it is because they are made with mashed potatoes, in small space. The range of styles & flavors meet many needs, including vegan offerings.
Potato Shed is one of a kind, just like many Vermont food businesses!
Trainings & tools for retail staff

Long associated with staff trainings all across the country, Rising Stars is a team of business advisers with years of experience training in Vermont. Familiar in the coop & independent store community they have created a dynamic online series adapted to the variables we are living with under covid.
Farm to Plate collaborator Mark Mulcahy along with Allen Seidner & Carolee Colter are hosting seminars for stores on topics current to our times. March 3rd: Communicating With Your Staff in a Crisis is free. An affordable four-part series follows on March 17 & 31, April 14 & 28.
Organizing training & support is often done by stores in the winter. Informing staff on operational efficiency through SOP greatly aide in staff training.
Walk-in coolers are a daily puzzle; we've put together training tips to help ensure product integrity through rotation while reducing shrink in your walk-in cooler. We also suggest dedicating time to become familiar with financials. Farm to Plate store staff- training series uses this Rising Stars exercise to increase financial aptitude. (PS its not just for produce!)

And with increased demand for local meat, here is a tool for rating the operations of a Meat Department
Meat Processing: Helping develop market opportunities for expanding local meat sales at stores is currently a statewide focus to address supply & demand gaps. Financial planning, processing & production are top of the list for the state & private sectors to increase market opportunities addressing current bottlenecks & opportunities.
Stores have seen an uptick in demand for local meat. Slaughter, processing & distribution are current issues impacting supply of small producers gaining market access to stores. Learn about the meat cutting series in Waitsfield this winter.
Myers Produce selling within Vermont & into New York City by way of Connecticut
Operating out of Northern Vermont since 2013, Myers Produce is a regional distributor selling to stores & shipping products in Northern Vermont, Western Massachusetts, & New York City. To meet the needs of produce & specialty food producers, they developed their business on wholesale distribution & freight services.
They purchase vegetables, fruit, eggs, grains, meat, cheese, & added value / specialty food products from producers in the Northeast, as a rule. The vast majority of produce sold is grown on small, organic farms in Vermont and Western Massachusetts. Customers purchasing from Myers are along routes from VT down through Massachusetts & Connecticut into NY City & the metropolitan area.
Buyers include retail stores, coops, restaurants, online retailers, caterers, hotels, fast casual lunch chains, corporate offices, & institutions.
Their freight service helps farmers & food producers gain access to new outlets with case & pallet pricing. They are hired to truck food from point A to point B without purchasing the product. All food is brought by producers to "hubs" where it is cross docked for delivery to areas within Myers existing delivery routes. By using this model & BOL services they help buyers gain access to Vermont producers & a wider range of northeast products available shipped as freight or from their stocked inventory.
Retail stores in VT have been doing well upselling products from across the state made available through the Myers team. Buffalo Mountain Coop in Hardwick is one such store meeting the expanded demand for local foods. 
The Farm to Plate Strategic Plan includes 31 product & market briefs develop as a shared vision for the Farm to Plate 2.0 Strategic Plan. The final report was released in an online press conference, commencing Farm to Plate’s next 10-year cycle. Explore the Major Metropolitan Market Brief.
Based in Woodbury, Patrick's Artisan Bakery is well known around Montpelier & has been gaining traction with wider
distribution of their "World's Finest Granola". Sold primarily to coops around the state it gets a prominent location at the Hunger Mountain Coop, which always does a great job merchandising our local products. Patrick’s flavors are wide ranging & the fresh flavor profiles create strong sales & pairs well with Cate Hill Skyr!
The NOFA Winter Conference is a month long series of online talks. join in the fabulous workshops & seminars.
Farmer Resources

UVM Extension has seasonally relevant info from our favorite ag engineer Chris Callahan. Check out the Guide Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting for Produce Farms

The Vermont Legal Food Hub created the Farm Animal Welfare Certification Guide helping farmers adopt & communicate higher animal welfare standards. Certification is useful for in-store marketing too.

VT Vegetable & Berry Growers Association has a new website with easy access to resources for farmers, including produce safety

NOFA 's Vermont Family Farmer of the Month Fund is designed to recognize organic farmers whose businesses are contributing to a resilient Vermont agricultural landscape & demonstrate environmental stewardship through sustainable practices. Apply now for the March recognition!
Recommended Resources & Organizations

We have an amazing network of organizations supporting our local food economy- from trade organizations to micro-region social profit agents. Each is a fantastic resource to help educate about our food system. Every week in Small Bites we will share a few; take a minute to check out the links then follow up with cross-promotion hashtags, likes etc.

Contact: Annie H Harlow

Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow

Grateful for the funding support provided by High Meadows Fund
Week 50 of Covid Feb 11, 2021