rambling, peeping & eating our way through foliage season
Week 29 of Covid-19, September 30, 2020
Click "view entire message" at the bottom of the page to see all the content
Farm fresh vegetables processed for food service: CAE has what your deli needs
Grocery Nibbles
A big shout out to all the grocers showcasing VT products. Sales of cheese, maple, & snack foods were strong this weekend & we cannot thank you all enough for your commitment to cross-promotions & premium product placement. In this pandemic, we can all support our food business community, of farmers, food manufacturers, & distributors. Purchasing direct from producers helps them ensure strong margins.
Stores all around the state are taking advantage of changing shopping patterns by selling fabulous store-made, “heat & eat” meals helping busy families adjust to new fall schedules. Many stores are using lightly processed Just Cut produce from the Center for an Agricultural Economy & sold through Green MT Farm Direct. These food service packs are one way your prepared foods department can support VT farmers all year long.
A well-run produce department can make all the difference
in a store. At the Buffalo Mountain Coop in Hardwick, new staff energizes & encourages local sales. There is
new informational signage, renewed creative displays & promotions.
Customers are enjoying the refreshing changes while farmers & suppliers are
loving the increased sales.
Looking for frozen foods to help increase sales? Check out the expanding selection at Wilcox. They ship a number of VT products along with their premium ice cream.
Joe's Kitchen line of soups uses ingredients farmed in Vermont; the soups fly off the shelves at stores across the state. Flavorful, convenient & perfect to amp up sales with changing shopping habits during the seasonal change & the pandemic. Be sure to reach out to Chef Joe to sell these high turnover products in your retail case or at your hot bar.

" Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do."
-Wendell Berry
Cheese & Dairy
Each corner of the state has distinct cheese & artisan made dairy products. Produced from the milk of goats, sheep & cows each is unique. In Pownal, VT, micro-producer Gammelgarden Creamery creates their signature, sublime artisan skyr (pronounced skeer). Technically a cheese with Icelandic origins, it is thicker & less tangy than Greek yogurt & is enjoyed as one would yogurt or as an ingredient for savory dishes too.
Using Vermont maple syrup, Sidehill Jam & Battenkill Wholesome, all the skyr flavor ingredients are locally produced. Seasonal flavors are a hit & their Apple Pie & Pumpkin flavors are perfect through the fall season. They also have 5 lb sizes of maple & plain food service pack available.
They sell wholesale DSD to stores in the lower, west corner of VT & into Mass & NY. Some of the stores along their routes include as far north as the Middlebury Coop, east to JJHapgood in Peru, Winhall Market, Nature's Market in Manchester & in Bennington Spice N' Nice. Stores & food hubs are encouraged to reach out to them as they have capacity to add stores to their routes. Read about them in Farm to Plate's Face of Farming Series.
Another micro dairy is Crooked Mile Cheese, located in Waterford at the opposite corner of the state. This VT goat dairy produces several cheeses on a small scale, just big enough to keep them busy, but small enough to handle all the tasks. They make semi-hard varieties, soft spreadable chevre, & ginger chevre produced in blocks with sweet & tangy ginger syrup. Their specialty is quality cheese from well-cared for & well-loved animals. The high-value cheeses are available at The Hanover & Lebanon Coops, Dan & Whit's as well as direct to consumer at the St Johnsbury & Littleton (NH) Farmers' Market. They are open to new accounts.
On March 10th Edible Vermont (previously Edible Green Mountains) introduced a new publisher, Marcia Lissak. "The mission of Edible Vermont, is to focus on the intricate network among farmers & foodies, the restaurant community & home chefs, & to provide nutritional value to our readers while supporting food security throughout Vermont." Free hard copies are produced in limited quantities, online subscriptions are encouraged.

The inaugural issue features Vermont businesses & includes an article on Northshire Grown's neighbors helping neighbors covid-pivot CSA.
Blake Hill Preserves makes seasonal Pumpkin Butter & Apple Butter. The many jams & preserves are perfect for cheese pairing. Available wholesale DSD & through Provisions International & Associated Buyers.
Industry analysis: How America is Eating & COVID Impacts
A national study from the marketing agency Acosta details ways retailers can meet the needs of the new mentally & financially stressed American consumer. Based on recent studies:
 ·        55% are eating at home more often since the pandemic began. 
·        44% of shoppers are eating breakfast at home every day, compared to 33% pre-COVID.
·        31% of shoppers are eating lunch at home every day, compared to 18% pre-COVID.
·        33% of shoppers are eating dinner at home every day, compared to 21% pre-COVID.
Addressing these changes, they recommend food manufacturers
·        Leverage the power of partnerships; including extending foodservice brands & chef-forward ideas into retail to make meal planning easier for home cooks
·        Focus on efficacy of packaging by food type to deliver a dining-in quality food experience. Repacking for family dinners will likely see an uptick in sales (see True North Granola below!)
Additionally, 43% of consumers worry the pandemic will deleteriously impact their holidays & 23% expect them mostly business as usual, the remaining 27% are unable to even think ahead given current covid stress.
Like other small businesses throughout the country, True North Granola has had to reimagine their business throughout covid. They are now offering 3 & 5 lb. family-size pack sizes. With many stores no longer offering granola in bulk, the newly reformatted pack size are strong sellers. They are offered in all their flavors to meet family needs & are safer to purchase. Great with Gammelgarden skyr!
Deep Root Organic Coop has farms throughout Vermont & southern Quebec

Founded in 1985, Deep Root Organic is one of the oldest coops of organic vegetable growers in the United States. It exists to promote local, sustainable, & organic agriculture through small, family owned farms. Through member farms, they offer wholesale produce throughout the year to store buyers.
It has evolved into 24 farms located throughout northern Vermont & southern Quebec. Member farms produce between 85,000 – 100,000 cases (of over 150 organic varieties) supplying local & regional stores along the east coast. Produce buyers in Vermont have come to trust the quality & consistency of each case that makes up the brand.
In addition to serving as a connection to the broader marketplace, the coop acts as a classroom & learning forum for the growers to be successful farm businesses. 
Flying off the shelf like hot cakes...Vermont Dinners has recently rebranded their fabulous farm to oven to plate frozen food dinners. These popular high turnover products are well known at Vermont coops & natural food stores. Since COVID & with the changing season, they are just the ticket when easy comfort meals are needed. The Brattleboro Coop cannot keep them stocked. With changing seasons & stressed parents they are easy to promote as healthy choices while directly supporting Vermont's agriculture. Made with Vermont ingredients they are super easy to promote in your store's e-news, social media, in-store promotion, & proper placement in the freezer.
This weekend, the NYT ran an article about COVID transplants moving to Vermont from all over the country. Help the new residents support local businesses, with Vermont Dinners as part of your frozen food category! Heat & eat. "Deliciously quick, powerfully local".
Down on the farm...All things apples & squash. Somehow it has become October already & we are in the season of orange & red food. This past weekend was a perfect time for locals to staytrip, leaf-peep, & pumpkin shop. Farmstands of all shapes & sizes had fantastic sales. We had super warm, easy to shop weather all weekend. Up & down the state, families were loaded down with apples, pies, squash & pumpkins. Jack o lanterns were a hit but so were smaller pie pumpkins. It is without a doubt not only apple, cider & donut season but it is PIE season too. New covid-home-cooks are getting excited to try their hand & insta-post their pies online. From the fancy to the basic, it is all hands on deck for pie season. 
With farmers' markets winding down, farmers are rethinking how to get their food direct to shoppers. Several options are being assessed: winter CSA's, direct to store deliveries, using distributors & BOL shippers. Understanding distribution costs can be daunting, but super useful tools & resources are available through VAAFM to help. Use this tool created by Rose Wilson Consulting when you have time to analyze costs. 
Covid hit at sugaring season. There were no open sugarhouses after March 13th.
To engage the public, VAAFM & Tourism celebrate all things maple with The Maple 100 a showcase of many activities & events. Statewide, producers have open houses offering maple-inspired products, hiking & biking on woodland trails in sugarbushes. Peak foliage across Vermont makes it the perfect time to get out & enjoy the spectacle while enjoying the state's sweetest flavor. Catch the list of participating sugarhouses. (It's a great time for all stores to highlight their local producers too!)
This & That
Calling all distributors & DSD sellers. Farm to Plate invites businesses to the Aggregation & Distribution Working Group. Let's all work together to make local food more logistically accessible within the state & the region. For more info & to join us in our virtual meeting Oct 2nd meeting.

Food access & food justice: As part of the Farm to Plate network a handy assessment tool helps stores, farms & food businesses evaluate their role in food justice & food access for all. Check out the tool kit here.  If you want to do more to support food & land justice for Black Americans, check out these organizations
VT Agency of Agriculture Food & Markets provides critical information on many topics. The current issue has important info. Sign up here to receive it
Farm to Plate has resources designed for store staff training on purchasing local foods, improving merchandising, in-store promotion & operations. The suite of services can also be used by food manufacturers & farmers to better understand store buyer decision making variables. We call it The Retail Collection, but really it is more than that. It is also the new home of the Small Bites Archive.
Green Mountain Orchard in Putney is one of our premier orchards in the state. Since 1904 the Darrow family has been tending the land, the trees & serving its community with fresh produce, baked goods & time to recapture moments in nature. Today, it is managed by the 3rd & 4th generation of Darrow offering a wide selection of fruit. They, like most orchards produce their own cider, which because it is not pasteurized, is only sold at that the farm & not available in stores. It encompasses the rich flavors of fall. Apple season is one of the busiest times at the orchard, but summer stone-fruit & the holidays finds business humming along too.
Woodstock Farmers' Market: exemplary retailers always, showcasing the season.
Did you know? Vermont Agriculture & Food System Plan; production & processing briefs were presented to the state legislature in January 2020. They are a collaboration of engaged stakeholders & were presented by Farm to Plate & the Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. "Strong themes occur across the briefs, illustrating the critical areas of investment necessary to support our agricultural and food producers as they face various challenges and take advantage of emerging opportunities."
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