3.4: Food Processing & Manufacturing Add to Collection

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Sorting croutons at Olivia's Croutons, New Haven, Vermont. Photo: Olivia's Croutons

Throughout the F2P planning process, we heard from Vermonters who believe that Vermont should have additional in-state processing facilities available for farmers and food entrepreneurs. However, getting from that expressed desire to viable business models is not a simple process given variations in stages of development and scales of operations in Vermont; the types of market outlets accessed; the types and origins of sourced ingredients; and the impacts of multinational food processing corporations.

Focusing on a company’s scale of operation is necessary in order to understand its developmental needs, such as the regulations that cover the facility, the infrastructure needed for distribution, the packaging needed for transport, the market capacity to take local farmers’ products, and challenges in sourcing enough local supply. Understanding a company’s stage of development is important in order to focus business planning and technical assistance resources to promote success.

Since Vermont processors of all scales of operation and stages of development import ingredients from around the world (e.g., cocoa, coffee, wheat), weather-related disruptions, geopolitical events, and other issues can impact cost and availability. Finally, multinational food processing corporations wield immense power in shaping public policy and consumer preferences, and Vermont food processors and manufacturers may present inviting targets for buy-outs that may reduce local employment and reduce processing and manufacturing capacity (e.g., Green Mountain Gringo, Chester, was purchased by TW Garner Food Co. and Annie’s Naturals, Calais, was purchased by Homegrown Naturals and both facilities were moved out of state).

This section of Chapter 3 highlights the ways Vermont businesses are developing processing facilities and the challenges they are facing. It is by no means an exhaustive inventory of all the business models, opportunities, and challenges in food processing.  Instead, it describes common challenges and opportunities, and some creative approaches to food processing that are emerging in the state. 



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Resources

Consumer shopping for local food
Photo: Rooted in Vermont

Economic Development in the Local Food Economy

Written by Jake Claro When you ask people their definition of the Vermont food economy, they’ll often talk about farms, farmers’ markets or CSAs. What’s often missing from the conversation are the supply chain of local businesses such as distributors, food processors and manufacturers, and seed, feed, and equipment dealers.  Vermont’s local…

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Kale harvest at Good Heart Farmstead in Worcester, Vermont
Photo: Good Heart Farnstead

NOFA-VT Farm Share Program

Written by Kate Spring In 2013, writer Kate Spring and her husband started Good Heart Farmstead with the mission to make local food more accessible. Not only did they aspire to make it easier for people to find local food, but they wanted to make it easier for them to afford…

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Retail training to boost local food sales

Take 5 is a series of 12 local food sourcing and merchandising training videos for Vermont retail stores to help increase local food sales. The Farm to Plate Independent Grocers Task Force launched the Take 5 series of five-seven minute training videos for convenience, general, grocery and other retail stores…

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Long Trail Brewery
Photo: Vermont Brewers Association

Craft beer industry growth

Written by Celia Riechel Maple syrup and outdoor adventure may have put Vermont on the map, but increasingly, breweries are showcasing the best of the Green Mountain State. Vermont is at the forefront of a nationwide growth trend in the craft beer industry, ranking 1st in number of breweries and production…

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Meat processing in Vermont
Photo: Over the Hill Farm

Gathering the Herd

Gathering the Herd: A Vermont Meat Processing Case Study captures lessons learned over a three year period from the Farm to Plate Meat Processing Task Force through interviews conducted by Carrie Abels with members of the task force and industry leaders. The Meat Processing Task Force within the Farm to Plate…

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Meat processing class at Vermont Tech
Photo: Mad River Food Hub

Educational Contributions to the Food System

Written by Molly Willard Vermont Tech is one of several educational institutions in Vermont helping to strengthen the food system. In collaboration with other educational institutions, degrees and certificate programs are offered to help meet Vermont’s Farm to Plate food system plan goal to offer a wide range of curricula,…

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Berry picking is a low cost way to bulk up on local food.
Photo: Rooted in Vermont

Low Cost Local Food

Vermonters enjoy local food and beverages in a variety of ways—growing or foraging their own, purchasing directly from a farmer or at the store, hunting or fishing, eating at schools and institutions serving local food, finding food from a community food shelf or the Vermont Foodbank, or just by trading…

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Food preparation skills are developed through cooking for Meals on Wheels in the Cornucopia program in the NEK.
Photo: NEK Food System Plan

Food Justice on the Menu in the NEK

Written by Taylar Foster The Northeast Kingdom Food System Plan was re-released in December of 2016, marking a substantive update to Vermont’s only regional food system plan. The Center for an Agricultural Economy, the Northeastern Vermont Development Association, and a steering committee composed of Northeast Kingdom cross industry experts and social…

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Healthy and local dining options at UVM Medical Center
Photo: UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center Advances Farm to Institution Goals

Written by Alison Nihart New research from the University of Vermont has quantified the economic impact of local food purchasing by the University of Vermont Medical Center. This study, the first of its kind in the state, shows how Vermont’s largest hospital is contributing toward Vermont reaching its institutional consumption…

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CRAFT greenhouse learning session in Addison County
Photo: NOFA VT

Fostering New Farmers

Written by Maria Buteux Reade A group of farmers gather in a pasture and stare intently at a young man struggling to push a long probe deep into the ground. He shakes his head sheepishly and hands off the penetrometer to the next volunteer. No luck for her either. The…

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Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, Vermont
Photo: Efficiency Vermont

Vermont brewers save money

Written by Tim Perrin Beer matters in Vermont. Not only do we have more breweries per capita than any other state, we also consume 25 percent more beer than national average per capita. That’s not surprising -- if everyone else’s beer was as good as Vermont’s, they’d drink more of it…

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Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt owner partner Jeannine Kilbride
Photo: Cobb Hill Frozen Yogurt

Frozen Yogurt Speeds Up with Slow Money

Written by Rachel Carter Published in Small Farm Quarterly Creamy farmstead frozen yogurt in vanilla, chocolate, maple, and coffee flavors is pumped into 300 Cobb HillFrozen Yogurt pints a week—a number that has more than doubled from this time last year. “A year ago, it took us three production days to do what we…

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Workers at Black River Meats (Springfield)
Photo: Black River Meats

Building Brands in Small Farm Food System

Written by Mark Cannella Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Small farms in Vermont contribute tremendous value to our evolving food system by being nimble enough to respond to shifting consumer demand quickly. Small farms have pioneered niche products, such as multi-variety mesclun mixes and hybrid CSA memberships. They are engaged in cutting-edge production…

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Full Sun Company sells sunflower and canola oil.
Photo: Full Sun Company

Set the Table with Local Oils

Written by Cheryl Herrick Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Netaka White remembers going to some of the first local food challenges in Vermont—potluck meals to which attendees would bring food that was entirely grown or raised within Vermont, or a 50-mile radius. “There would be all this great stuff,” he recalls, “but there…

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Happy consumer at Nea-Tocht Farm during last year's Breakfast on the Farm
Photo: UVM Extension

Changing Consumer Local Food Perceptions

Written by Julie Smith, UVM Extension, Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Ted Ferris, MSU Extension, Animal Science The first Vermont Breakfast on the Farm event gave consumers and farm neighbors a first-hand look at modern food production. Hosted by Nea-Tocht Farm in Ferrisburgh in August 2015, the event was organized and…

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Grinding Masa! All Souls Tortilleria packaged tortillas are now available at City Market in Burlington VT
Photo: All Souls Tortilleria

Tortillas with Soul

Written by Sarah Bhimani, City Market, Onion River Co-op City Market, a community-owned food co-op in Burlington, VT, has a list of Global Ends that guides their business and all that they do. One of their Global Ends is “strengthening the local food system,” which is met through a myriad of…

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A loan is helping kickstart Rob Rock’s agriculture machinery and fabrication business, a bonus for Vermont farmers in need of his custom farm equipment and metal-working services.
Photo: Farm Fund

Five Years of Funding Farms

Written by Caitlin Gildrien Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Early on a January morning in 2011, Pete Johnson of Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury heard a funny noise. When he looked out his window, he saw his barn engulfed in flames. The building and all of the equipment and product inside was in…

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Bread & Butter Farm
Photo: Erica Housekeeper / Happy Vermont

Complex Dough

Prepared by Carrie Abels for the Financing Cross-Cutting Team Bread & Butter Farm, which straddles the South Burlington/Shelburne border, sells an array of farm products and experiences—everything from grass-fed beef to fresh-baked German bread to winter vegetables to farm-fresh burgers served on Friday evening “Burger Nights.” But the diversity of Bread &…

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Montpelier's farmers' market.
Photo: Rachel Carter

Market Trends

Written by Caroline Abels Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Over the past 10 years farmers’ markets in Vermont have burst forth like a backyard garden in July. Currently there are 63 markets in the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association, and a dozen or so that aren’t members. But every now and then you…

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Caledonia Spirits whiskey cask.
Photo: Jennifer Rose Smith

Forest to Flask

Written by Jennifer Rose Smith Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Do you know a cooper? It’s a query likely to produce confusion, as Caledonia Spirits’ founder Todd Hardie learned by putting the question to just about everyone. “For most of a year, each time I met someone, I’d say ‘Hello, do you…

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The work crew at Chappelle's Potatoes.
Photo: CAE.

Vermont Veggies Find New Markets

Written by Alissa Matthews and Sarah Waring Vermont's Local Banquet There’s no vegetable more basic than a potato. This humble, tuberous root crop, Solanum tuberosum, grows in the dark, hidden from view most of the year, and emerges late when the air is frosty. It’s not as exciting as kale, not as…

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Packaging meat at Vermont Packinghouse.
Photo: Caroline Abels

Our Meat, Made Visible

Written by Caroline Abels Vermont's Local Banquet Ironically, given that it’s the only slaughterhouse in Vermont with public viewing windows, the new Vermont Packinghouse doesn’t have a single window on the outside, save on the front door of the main office. I peered through that office window when I visited the newly…

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Many small producers use VAT pasteurizers, but the LiLi processes more quickly, at 2 gallons per minute, and uses heat more efficiently, resulting in a less energy-intensive process and milk that retains more of its nutritional value and flavor.
Photo: Caroline Abels

Planting a LiLi

Written by Caroline AbelsVermont's Local Banquet To understand what the LiLi pasteurizer—conceived and developed in Vermont—could mean to the dairy community of Orange County, New York, I drove to the Hudson Valley in early July and chatted with some longtime dairy farmers.They told me—a few minutes before the ribbon-cutting ceremony that…

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Charles Dodge of Putney Mountain Winery pours a sample for tasting.
Photo: Barbi Schreiber

Thinking Outside the Bourdeaux

As skills are wont to do, the production of fermented drinks fell away with the growth of cities and electricity, but the process is now making a comeback. The high sugar content of grapes, and their suitability for European growing conditions, made them de rigueur for wines around the world,…

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Joe Bossen of Vermont Bean Crafters producing bean burgers at the Mad River Food Hub.
Photo: Mad River Food Hub

Mad River Food Hub

White walls and stainless steel sinks and industrial-sized freezers and workers in smocks may not form our image of “local food.” But if Vermont agriculture and food production are to remain viable, places like the Mad River Food Hub might become increasingly necessary. Opened in October 2011, the Mad River Food…

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Harvesting wheat; bagging croutons.
Photo: David Caccavo

Olivia's Croutons

Olivia’s Croutons has grown from a small, home kitchen operation—where 20 bags was a large order—to occupying an 8,000 square foot facility in a renovated barn in New Haven that ships to stores across the US. While the move to the new facility was prompted by a need for a…

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Technical assistance providers on a tour of Misty Knoll Farm.
Photo: VHCB/Farm Viability.

Vermont Farm Viability Program

Perhaps long ago, in a simpler world, farmers needed only tools, the support of helping hands, a market for their products, and advice from their neighbors to successfully grow vegetables and raise animals. But farmers today need a lot more than that. Complex equipment, well-designed facilities, marketing skills, and a…

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Rob Litch with turkey flock.
Photo: Caroline Abels/Vermont's Local Banquet

Misty Knoll Farms

Yes, there is a knoll—and it’s misty. At least it was on the day this past October when I visited Misty Knoll Farms, Vermont’s largest chicken producer. Standing on the small rise at the eastern edge of the farm in New Haven, facing a swath of Addison County dairy land below…

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Tony Brault.
Photo: Julia Shipley

Brault's Market

Tony Brault has cut things all his life, everything except his own hair, and he’s so busy lately, he hasn’t gotten around to letting someone else at it. One of his earliest memories as a kid in the Northeast Kingdom is “standing on an overturned soda crate, cutting meat beside…

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Grazing cattle on a cloudy day.
Photo: Maple Wind Farm.

Maple Wind Farm

At Maple Wind Farm in Huntington, the beef cattle “harvest their own feed,” as farmer Bruce Hennessey likes to say. They’re grass-fed cattle, meaning that for six and sometimes seven months of the year they eat grass on pasture, using their own energy to walk around and fatten themselves. Bruce, who…

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A sampling of Liz Lovely cookies.
Photo: Liz Lovely, Inc.

Liz Lovely Cookies

Recently, the Mad River Valley’s Liz Lovely Cookies received the long sought after capital needed to grow the popular gluten free, vegan, and non-GMO cookie company located in Waitsfield. Last fall owners Liz and Dan Holtz competed on Shark Tank, a national television show where entrepreneurs pitch their business to…

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Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge.
Photo: Monument Farms Dairy.

Monument Farms Dairy

Monument Farms Dairy began in 1930 as a home delivery route run by Richard and Marjory James in the Weybridge area. Today, the company is managed by their grandson Jon Rooney and two of his cousins, Bob James and Pete James. And their responsibilities are doled out equally, just as you’d…

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Filling Greek yogurt containers at Commonwealth Dairy.
Photo: Gregory Nesbit Photography

Efficiency at a Dairy Processor

Prepared by JJ Vandette, Planning and Development Associate, Efficiency Vermont Highlights: $150,000 in first year savings ● $2.1 million in lifetime savings ● 1.5 million in annual kWh savings ● Refrigeration system, compressed air system, motors, lighting, heating, and ventilation optimized Download the pdf. When German Company Ehrman AG partnered with Commonwealth Yogurt,…

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