Another reset: seasonal transitions & buy local
Week 25 of Covid-19, September 3, 2020
from your inbox, be sure to click "view entire message"
East Warren Community Market, keeping folks safe & fed with tons of local food
Grocery Nibbles
What we are hearing from grocers:
It's a new, weird back to school season for sure. The usual merchandising & sales promotions are not quite as robust as in the past, but stores offer specials to help ease the transitions for families. Many are leading with sales promotions from their distributors. Craftsbury General Store always has a mix of local & national brands through their primary distributor & highlight staff picks. Mountain Energy Market, with online curbside only offers personalized service with special product features for their local, returning customers. This level of attention has helped generate sales & abundant sense of safety for the shoppers.
Speaking of safety, Middlebury Coop has made a public request for shoppers to shop solo as much as possible. This makes social distance more easily accommodated, while also ensuring staff safety & ease of traffic flow. The Coop strictly enforces the number of shoppers in the store, the fewer families, the more efficient the shopping & check out process.
Vermont Biz highlights our specialty food producers winning 2020 SOFI Awards. Does your store carry these eight winners? You should!
The Albany Land Trust is taking the next big step in revitalizing the Albany General Store which closed in 2013. With broad financial, design & business support from the community the store has broken ground. The vision is for a small grocery store serving the community with comfort foods from a pizza oven & fryer along with freshly baked goods. The community will have a new center with a new look designed for safety & a new parking layout out back. The team at the Craftsbury General Store & many partners including the Preservation Trust of Vermont have been instrumental in support of this project.
photo credit: Hardwick Gazette
Of the many VT frozen foods that make it easy for busy families- or for lazily kicking back on weekends- is the line of take & bake pastry from Mirabelle's. The top quality pastry bake off 100% full of flavor & are super easy. With families getting back into a new routine, a promotion that includes this line is fitting for the season. Promote a simple dinner with the puff pastry topped with fresh garden saute. The pie crust is without a doubt made to be filled with fresh Vermont baking apples. "Home-baked" croissants, what can we say? Maybe you should just watch how easy it is to make a croissant. The East Warren Community Store bakes & sells them daily. You can too! Mirabelle's full line of take & bake is available through Lesser Distribution & direct from Mirabelle's. Be like Healthy Living, Middlebury Coop, VT Food Collaborative & the Rutland Coop, & other stores stocking this must have for the changing season!
Some folks call September hiking, harvest or apple season. It can of course be all of the above. How about promoting all with displays of Garuka Bars available through Black River Produce, Pumpkin Village, Killam Sales,Food Connects & directly through USPS.

Fall apples change weekly, Burtt's Orchard in Cabot features current varieties on their website. Astute producer buyers know to stay on top of VT varieties while reducing inventory of apples from Chile & Argentina. Apple inventory management in a time of transition is hard! A little bit of systematic thinking can go a long way to increase support of our local orchards. We all know covid has been detrimental to our local economy & as buyers, your choices can have a big impact. Make a bigger difference this year supporting our apple producers. If you need help finding supplies or help with promotions, reach out to us.
3 squares or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has had $16M extra paid out since covid to cover the increased need to feed families. This federal relief bill, pushed by Bernie, was an increase that is not permanent but has been critical to provide eligible families with more assistance in food shopping.
The National Specialty Food Association is hosting a 4 day virtual trade show September 21-24 where buyers meet producers. Grants are available for producers for upcoming virtual events.
USPS has been taking longer recently impacting local sales of small businesses. There are Garuka Bars in here somewhere!
photo credit: Justin Sullivan Getty Images
Buy Local Vermont Program
The State of Vermont has launched a #BuyLocalVermont program intended to bring needed foot traffic & increase sales for local restaurants, retail stores, entertainment & performing arts venues, lodging & tourism-related businesses (think VSFA producers). It will incentivize purchases via a limited time $30 BuyLocalVermont offer, for residents who sign up to participate on a first come, first served basis. When a resident activates their offer, they’ll be matched with participating local Vermont businesses where they can use those funds.
  • Both E-Commerce & brick & mortar stores are eligible.
  • Businesses will have the option to receive funds through direct deposit or via check. Money will be transferred immediately upon consumer redeeming offer online.
  • Offers will be issued through text or email. Once enrolled, businesses will have an account where they can view customers who have redeemed offers. 
  • The program will launch to consumers on September 8th.
Live Young Kitchen submitted a sample to the Sauce King NYC award promoting top sauces ~ Good luck Brad!
For 79 years Mehuron's Market has been supporting local dairy & gateway producers with their dedicated staff. 2020 has been quite a year, refurbishing after a January fire & navigating a pandemic. Distributor partnerships like Farm Connex & Green Mt Farm Direct have helped them access even more VT products to meet increased demand.
Pete's Greens delivers fresh produce from their Craftsbury location to Commodities in Stowe
Distribution/Supply-side Nuggets
Pete's Greens delivers fresh vegetables each week to Vermont
co-ops, natural food stores, grocery stores & restaurants. Their signature salad mix, specialty root crops & heirloom tomatoes are stocked as staples at many stores. Though the majority of produce is sold & consumed in Vermont, some veggies make their way to restaurants & stores in NYC via Myers Produce. With set delivery days, Pete's sends its drivers through central Vermont on Wednesdays & Saturdays. To reach parts of the state out of their delivery range, they use Farm Connex out of CAE. Like many farmers, they still enjoy the person to person connection that selling & delivery brings & are open to new accounts wishing to expand sales of locally grown produce. For wholesale orders & delivery, contact Tim at 802-586-2882 x1.
Some national implications....
Dollar General expands its food footprint with new stores & remodels that increase the amount of food sold through the national chain. Primarily located in rural towns, these changes are in direct response to increased sales during the early stages of the pandemic. DG sees a future increase to 17,000 stores & retooling others to sell low quality food to rural communities.

The fires in California continue to burn. With over 20,000 lightning strikes in mid-August, in many parts of the state produce crops are still covered in ash. Workers have been struggling under oppressive record-breaking heat & smoky fire conditions. The quality of fresh produce is decreased due to ash & heat stress & infrastructure disruptions in shipping & logistics. Farmers, processors & shippers have had to make many alterations in their work plans. There are anticipated gaps in availability & shelf life may be shortened at supermarkets mid September & into October.
"We believe in the value of direct communication with our customers. By selling direct, we can ensure that everything goes out as fresh as possible & with high quality."
-Pete's Greens on DSD within the state
Farm Bites: Meat Producers
Maple Wind Farm, like many Vermont farms, has traversed many decisions this year. With lost restaurant sales & diminished revenue at farmers' markets they have pivoted to on-site sales, on-farm events & direct to consumer sales. As pasture poultry producers, Beth & Bruce found a great way to bridge gaps while staying connected to their community. They created fried chicken dinner nights hugely popular events with all the social distancing & safety measures in place. #winnerwinnerchickendinner, has helped them stay engaged with customers while having heaps of fun on the farm. They BOL ship wholesale turkey & chicken to existing accounts via Black River Produce.

Stonewood Farm in Orwell is a premiere producer of holiday turkeys. This year they have 28,000 poults ( ie young'ins) sizing up for the holiday table. Because of covid, they are anticipating smaller birds as family gatherings will likely be smaller. Over recent years, demand for birds sized in the 14-16 pound range were standard, this year it is likely to be smaller. Stonewood ships birds & premium sausage to stores via BOL to Black River Produce, DSD to stores & frozen through Associated Buyers in NH.
What we are hearing from farmers...
Our late corn crop is in full swing with luscious varieties just beginning to be harvested. Southern corners of the state have been in drought all summer impacting crop sizes due to reduced germination & pollination rates & limited water for irrigation. Harvesting of fall crops is underway with onion, potatoes & winter squash curing for future sales. Sales for the year are reported being strong due to increases at CSA's, farmstands & wholesale to stores. Many farmers are unsure what this winter, let alone next year will bring, but this pandemic year has overall held its own with strong sales despite growing challenges. One Vermont farmer is "still undecided about the best path for winter marketing but keeping markets & home delivery options open. Direct markets & online sales remain strong."

Many farm stands will reduce hours & staffing after labor day, while others are gearing up for increased fall CSA shares. The Bunker Farm in Putney has expanded their meat CSA to address high demand. This has been a great year for on-farm sales. On the flip side maple sales are down with new marketing in place to capture direct to consumer online sales & implement holiday gift incentives.
Across the state, farms are participating in the Everyone Eats program. First launched in Brattleboro this summer it is a direct response to covid & the heightened need to feed those experiencing food insecurity & to take some pressure off the food bank. Community non-profits work with farmers & restaurants offering meals while providing employment for restaurant workers & outlets for VT produce & diary products. The funding that supports this program comes from $5M from CARES Act it has been highly supported by our federal & state legislators.

Farmers take note! CARES Act funding is available for many types of farm operations that are struggling due to covid. Deadlines are fast approaching; please check out the updates & consultation services from VHCB
Vermont products that are great with local meat & perfect to promote-bundle with CSAs : Little Bottles Spice CO. & Sugar Bob's Smoked Maple Syrup. Contact them for pricing & shipping to your farm-stand or store.
In July Small Bites, we first told you about The Wild Fern on Rt 100 in Stockbridge. This week they are getting even more recognition for the genuinely unique roadhouse & support of local producers. Travel blogger & Happy Vermont podcast host, Erica Housekeeper features Heather Lynne & her unique farm to table with music venue served with Luv. Listen to the podcast & learn how this cool community scene has effectively pivoted with covid. Plan a trip to mosey down the valleys of Vermont for totally unique food & music. Buy local, even if you have to take a road trip to do it!
This & That Across the
Supply Chain...
Vermont stores & farmstands are looking to increase products from Vermont BIPOC businesses. Farm to Plate has a crowd sourced document to increase awareness of BIPOC businesses. NOFA has expanded its advocacy & resources. The
SUSU Healing Collective in Brattleboro is a commUNITY center with an emphasis on environmental health.
Craft Foods: The White Lies of Craft culture is an interesting read for Vermonters, one of the least diverse states in the country & one that takes pride in its artisan food manufacturing.
VSFA Webinar for producers on wholesale distribution & trade spend (the amount a company spends to increase demand for its products) which includes preferential shelf display, coupons, slotting fees, advertising etc. Learn how to navigate this stage of business growth to best capture your overall target margin. Register here.
Check out Alli Ball's video on trade spend too.
Kingdom Creamery has a new line of milk products just in time for back to school! Maple, Strawberry & chocolate are available through Gr MT Farm Direct & DSD from the Creamery.
Tell us something to share in Small Bites!
Thank you to the farmers, producers, distributors & suppliers for providing information for this update.
Unless otherwise noted, photo credits are from company social media, websites or Annie Harlow,

Contact Annie H Harlow
to share your info & seek retailing business resources

Funding support provided by High Meadows Fund