Summer in Vermont: Simplicity... Yet Busy!
Week 22 of Covid-19, August 14
Ode to joy at the Farm Market in Jeffersonville!
Grocery Nibbles
Just off Route 15 in one of Vermont’s finest recreation destinations is the The Farm Store. Specializing in an extensive selection of locally grown produce, fresh VT meat, cheese & delightful baked goods they meet the needs of both locals & tourists. They focus on a mix that includes harder-to-find grocery items from national & local purveyors often purchased through the online platform Mable. Long known locally as THE PLACE to grab exceptional baked goods, they round out the shopping experience with excellent coffee soups, & a coffee bar complete with espresso drinks. Keeping things simple they have all the VT products for easy eating. Smuggler’s Notch hikers & rail trail bikers can grab Owl Bars ...Original, Wholesome Local) & wonderful Vermont Farmstead Cheese (both available through Mable) which goes so well with their freshly baked lemon olive oil bread. Check out their facebook posts & you will want to take a staycation or some staytripping to indulge in their fine baked goods, refreshing drinks & wonderful VT products.
It's hot.
It's simple eating season.
Time for some Blake Hill Naked Raspberry Spread! In summer stores have plenty of options for jams, preserves & fruit spreads with local suppliers from gateway producers (super local community-based producers of any product) but where else can you get naked (no sugar) spread? Blake Hill is known for their adventurous flavors. It is locally produced & regionally distributed through Provisions International & Associated Buyers. We advise buyers to reach for top selling SKU’s which can help sales with known high turnover products. 
Blake Hill fulfills your sweet & savory category while easily cross promotes with VT cheeses & artisan breads & crackers.
Fifty percent of Americans’ food dollars are spent in grocery stores, yet few people think about the important role merchants play in building healthy food systems. In the rapidly evolving & consolidating retail landscape, it is imperative that grocers committed to stocking truly good food come together. It is time to come together in support the each other through the Good Food Merchants Alliance. Locally Woodstock Farmers Market displaces demand for industrially produced food & replaces it with community enhancing alternatives. Is your store ready to join the alliance & showcase your commitment to local healthy food? 
"Everyone is buying local! I cannot keep up & some of my producers are jamming to keep up with demand at every store I deliver to! I have never been busier" -Michael Lesser, Lesser Distribution
From the national picture:
There is a lot going on in the world of food. Prices are rising fastest in decades, food manufacturers are streamlining SKU's, distributors are thinning inventory retailers are reducing products per category focusing on high turnover products, shoppers are still shopping less often with higher basket sales. Covid continues to impact availability of dry goods from flour to paper products due to production disruptions & consumer demand. It has shifted all aspects of products throughout the supply chain. Stores that initially retooled for safety are now re-evaluating product mix to include more local vendors. Long term impacts remain unknown as the pandemic continues to rage in high food producing regions of the county. A recent WAPO article & WSJ video highlight supply side variables, trends & uncertainties; while a WAPO article covers grocery workers stress & despair in the "essential job".
Simple Supper Promotion
Spätzle is a German egg noodle traditionally made with wheat flour and eggs. It is usually sold dry to be cooked in butter or oil for around five minutes & served with a sauce or seasoning. What makes this product different is that it is gluten free, made with local milk, eggs, corn, tapioca and potato flour. The business just sort of happened when the owners switched to a gluten-free diet a couple years back but still wanted to enjoy this favorite German staple. It took 7 years of experimenting to perfect the gluten free spätzle recipe that is The Vermont Spätzle Company. The products are retail ready & shipped locally through Wilcox Ice Cream, DSD & regionally (reach out to them for more distribution info). For stores looking to round out their frozen category with VT products, you need to check out other products distributed through Wilcox, it is so more than ice cream!
In twelve years, Andy's Dandys developed from a small home
kitchen operation to a full fledged bakery, with a twist...doggie delights! The mission evolved from
supporting their son in his growth from high school to adult work life, to
serving other young adults with special needs, teaching real work-based
concepts & skills to take in their job search for future employment. Working with a special educator, an individualized job training program provides key employment for other special need young adults. Join the Andy's Dandy's family of stores- Sweet Clover Market & the AGNE family of Richmond & Jericho Markets. Round out your product mix to
meet the needs of your four legged friends as future customers! Contact
Andy's now or support them with an online order of doggie treats to your pooch friends.
There are many ways to address logistics
Distribution/Supply-side Nuggets
Have you ever wondered how local VT produce gets into large supermarkets? Shoppers want to support local, but for a long time the system was hard for farmers to access. There is a hierarchy of buyers & purchasing parameters dependent on large national contracts, as well as buyer pressure to make money & margin in their produce department.
Local distributor Upper Valley Produce has a history of analyzing loading docks & truck routes as they purchased from local farmers. In putting 2 & 2 together, a plan was hatched to make it easy to match retail to produce growers in a virtual marketplace. Out of this concept emerged Grower’s Hub, a real time, web-based efficient sourcing site.
With the hub system growers can drop off large orders at a cross dock location to be picked up by the supermarket back haul logistics. The program initiated to meet the needs of Price Chopper has expanded to include other large buyers. Efficiency is becoming more & more valuable in consideration of pressure to streamline fresh produce delivery throughout the region, ensuring increased quality, decreased costs & emissions.
Farm Fresh Bites
Sam Mazza's Farm, long known as a leading grower for wholesale distribution also has a stellar reputation at its farm store. To make it all happen takes a dedicated crew to work the greenhouses, plant & harvest the fields, tend the PYO, sell wholesale, & interact with retail shoppers.
This season, the retail stand with its bakery & fresh produce has expanded their Vermont products with a strong relationship with Upper Valley Produce. This is what is known as win-win: the farm sells their produce to a wholesaler & the wholesaler sells VT products to the farm retail store. This is relocalizing the food shed while shortening the supply chain. It is especially important as covid continues to have deleterious impacts on food production & distribution. Mazza & UVP are shipping corn, cuke, zuke & summer, blueberries, & more to stores & farm stands in VT & NH for the win-win.
Goal setting is an ongoing process on a farm with many intersecting parts. Sweetwater Farm in Norwich has been working on a goal of 90 in 10, their fossil-carbon emissions intensity pledge. The farm started with
ambitious goals eight years ago. Right now they are not sure if this bold goal can be attained, however they have confidence this is right way to direct their energy. Their website has info for farmers to evaluate & explore energy assessment plans. "Factoring in our carbon-sensitive forest- and soil-management practices, the farm will be carbon-negative by 2022 and will sequester about 100 tons of carbon per year by 2028. We want to continue to replace food in your diet that comes from industrial farms far away with low carbon, high nutrition local food that nourishes you, our landscape, and our Vermont traditions."
Does your CSA need help educating your new customers? If so, Harvest of the Month is for you! Excellent info includes food culture, history & of course recipes geared to any scale of production. Please don't try & reinvent the wheel, use this time-tested program to educate shoppers or increase sales in farm stands or stores. Other excellent promotions are carried out with the tools from Rooted in Vermont
Did You Know?
NOFA has the retail-readiness farm stand audit tool for farmers while Alli Ball Consulting has podcasts, video trainings & Facebook insights. Use these free tools to improve your business venture.
Congratulations to "The Genny" for the great write up in 7 Days on your famous & well-loved Globe Trotting dinners!
Farms Growing Good Deeds
Pete's Greens & Wild Branch Mushrooms with the team at Craftsbury General Store have organized a program to address food insecurity in the community. Weekly produce boxes augmented with grocery items available through Associated Grocers of New England have become a staple for those in need. With increased unemployment as a result of the pandemic, the community has teamed up & risen to meet the needs of its most vulnerable.
Sweetland Farm, Willing Hands & Salvation Farms are working together in the Upper Valley to keep wholesome food from going to waste & delivering it to neighbors in need through food shelves. Additionally, CSA boxes are provided through community donations.
Open Farm Week is NOW!
When out & about remember to check out the Pick Your Own Fruit Guide to find the perfect Vermont peach or plum, ready to pick now at many orchards.
Calling all farm & food manufacturers...
Tell us something to share in Small Bites!
Thank you to the farmers, producers, distributors & suppliers for providing information for this update.

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

Funding support provided by High Meadows Fund