What do you get when you combine a great but unharvested crop of wild, local apples, with a crop of determined Vermont localvores?
That’s how the renowned artisanal applesauce makers of Village Cannery of Vermont got their start back in 1977, gathering apples they couldn’t let go to waste. With some great recipes for small batch, kettle-cooked applesauces and a growing number of fans, the South Barre group soon decided to open their own cannery.
Now, more than three decades later, their Vermont Village applesauce is the leading brand of natural, organic apple sauce in the Northeast, with distribution in large supermarkets and co-ops alike. Their extended product line includes multiple flavors, jars and snack packs, plus apple butter and apple cider vinegars. With plans to further expand operations, they came to VCLF for funding.
“The Vermont Community Loan Fund showed genuine interest in supporting our growth. They visited our facility and collaborated with the lender we’d been working with to create the best financing package for us," says owner and founder Jim Sheperd.
Village Cannery is proud of their ‘old-fashioned’ methods of cooking in small batches, using whole apples including peel (superior nutritional and flavor results, Sheperd explains), skipping added sugars, and sourcing as many apples as possible from Vermont growers. In 1996, they were certified as an organic processor.
“With these additional funds, we’ll be able to expand our business to add new products and new personnel,” Sheperd says. “Before the VCLF funding, we couldn’t easily pursue new channels of distribution, buy raw materials economically or build seasonal inventories to meet increased demands for our products. The Loan Fund really has helped move Village Cannery forward. And we expect to double sales in 2016 with their help!"
The loan helps preserve 16 Vermont jobs, and is expected to lead to the creation of four new jobs. More at vermontvillageapplesauce.com
Additional funding in the food system was provided to:
Vermont Smart Resource Institute, Burlington Vermont Smart Resource Institute provides product development, consulting services and cutting-edge research & development to analyze energy efficiencies, costs and output.Their VCLF loan, used to fund general operations, preserves three full-time and three part-time jobs. smartrl.com
Fat Toad Farms, Brookfield After eight years of making goat’s milk caramel with milk fresh from their own goats Fat Toad Farms is now transitioning exclusively to caramel production, sales and distribution. They sold their goat herd to a nearby farm and will process milk purchased from that farm and other Vermont farms. They used their most recent VCLF loan to purchase new processing equipment. The loan preserves five jobs. fattoadfarm.com
Since 1987, VCLF has loaned over $90 million to local businesses, affordable housing developers and community-based organizations that has created or preserved 5,200 jobs; built or rehabilitated 4,000 affordable homes; created or preserved quality care for over 3,700 children and their families; and supported community organizations providing vital services to hundreds of thousands of Vermonters.