Producer Spotlight: Frisky Cow Gelato

Frisky Cow Gelato is one our new products at Food Connects (and something seems to get quickly consumed from our staff freezer). This locally-made, creamy, and delicious product will be sure to satisfy your sweet-tooth.

Owner and founder, Linda Rubin, spent nine years working at Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH (the last working dairy farm in Keene) and several more years serving on their board of Directors (1995-2011). She dreamed about ways to make the farm's dairy more profitable, therefore contributing to the long term sustainability of the educational non-profit. When her son, Zach got married at Stonewall Farm in September 2017 she began thinking about the dairy operation again.

"It's not easy to be a small non-profit with a dairy farm on it—dairy farms are closing all over the country. I was really inspired to do my small part," said Linda Rubin. “The farm had a creamery that was not being used so I pitched the idea of starting Frisky Cow Gelato—leasing the creamery, purchasing organic milk, and donating a portion of the revenue from the business to Stonewall Farm.”

Linda had her first taste of gelato in Florence, Italy when as a high school chemistry teacher she chaperoned 60 students on a summer trip throughout Europe. “I remember people waiting at gelaterias (shops that serve gelato) for an hour or more each night to be served. I never forgot that taste!” Not only did she gain a love for gelato while in Italy, but she also studied the art of gelato-making at the Italian Carpigiani University in Chicago.

Frisky Cow Gelato is great tasting, high quality, artisan gelato made right in our own back yard. Made with 100% organic milk, it is also gluten-free, and made in small batches from scratch with no artificial preservatives, colors or flavors. It is a low overrun frozen treat that is full of rich, fresh flavor, and made with local ingredients whenever possible. She also purchases maple cream from Ben's Sugar Shack in Temple, NH, coffee from Prime Roast in Keene, NH, blueberries from Monadnock Berries in Troy, NH, and strawberries from Stonewall Farm. 

“I think its important, especially in a rural part of the country, for people to invest in their communities, to support the farms, restaurants, shops, and salons that bring color to our neighborhoods and strengthen our local economy,” said Linda. “I see being a part of the local food movement as a way to provide local jobs, work with local farmers and specialty food producers, and contribute to the state's tax base. The local food movement is also important because it begins to address critical issues relating to food insecurity, open space, climate change, energy consumption, and our agricultural heritage.”

And what about that name? “I gave my gelato the name, Frisky Cow, because I wanted it to be a very accessible and fun treat—not something you would only eat in Italy.” And boy, are we glad we can get this tasty treat right here!

Want a taste of this great gelato? Frisky Cow Gelato will be at the Keene Farmers’ Market beginning in May, the Food Truck Roundup Thursday nights in June and July at the Retreat Farm in Brattleboro, the Strolling of the Heifers event in Brattleboro on Saturday, June 8th, and a celebration of National Ice Cream Day at Stonewall Farm on July 20th .  

Community Partnership Prioritizes Local Food

Local food is a top priority in the partnership between the Monadnock Food Co-op and Food Connects. Over the past four years, the Monadnock Food Co-op has purchased over $191,000 in local food from Food Connects. The Co-op purchases from 32 of Food Connects over 60 producers. What does that mean for the two communities? Increased support for these local producers and community access to dozens of fresh, local products.

The staff at Food Connects understands that it isn’t always easy for consumers to access local food. Food Connects Food Hub aims to make it easier by offering a variety of locally sourced wholesale products, from multiple producers, all on one bill. Ordering and delivery are seamless, allowing for businesses like the Co-op to focus on what they do best—providing local food to the community.

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Food Connects has worked with the Co-op since 2014, originally under the name Monadnock Menus. This partnership continues to enable Food Connects to grow in the Monadnock region, alongside other vital partners like Stonewall Farm and the Cheshire County Conservation District. The Co-op is an anchor point for Food Connects—providing a large base for customers, five different departments that purchase local foods, and continued collaboration for the growth of local food sales in the region. Food Connects has sold over $675k in local products to southwestern New Hampshire businesses and institutions since 2014, keeping all of those dollars within the community and with the help of the Co-op, they hope to increase that number significantly over the next few years.

“The co-op has been our anchor in New Hampshire since the beginning of Monadnock Menus,” said Alex McCullough, Food Connects Food Hub General Manager. “They have an incredible level of energy and passion for local food and for serving their local community. With their impending expansion, that excitement continues to grow. They’re constantly looking for the next new, exciting local product. For us, that’s a big deal. It means we can offer our producers a real opportunity to get their products in front of a huge number of shoppers.”

A locally focused food hub helps the Monadnock Food Co-op meet a number of its ends statements: strengthening a healthy, sustainable food system and supporting local farmers and producers.  Last year, the co-op reached over $5 million in local sales from 346 producers. The co-op looks forward to future growth, planning for an expansion project this fall.

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“The greatest benefit of working with Food Connects is that it truly connects us to farmers we don’t have a direct relationship with and wouldn’t be able to deliver to us,” said Allen Raymond, Producer Manager at the Co-op. “Food Connects makes purchasing local products so simple and straightforward. It’s also nice only having one invoice rather than having multiple farmers with different invoices where it can be easier to misplace them. Having the online platform allows us to be much more efficient with our time and not have to chase down emails looking for product lists, case sizing, and pricing. All in all, working with Food Connects is a great resource for us and the team they have are amazing and make working with the company even easier.”

Mashed, Fried, or Baked: Local Potatoes are a Hit!

Who doesn’t love a good, and somewhat completely random, food holiday? Well, put on a bib for this one—the ENTIRE month of February is National Potato Lovers Month. Who knew?

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Our Food Connects team is excited to celebrate—and not just because we have an excuse to eat piles of tater tots and mountains of mashed potatoes. We’ve recently partnered with Chappelle’s Vermont Potatoes to sell their potatoes to local institutions. It is truly a mash made in heaven.

Chappelle’s, based in Williamstown, VT has been in business for over 40 years. Interestingly enough, Chappelle's Potato Farm has its roots in the pick-your-own business. Now, the farm resides on over 120 acres and primarily sells over 18 varieties of potatoes to wholesale purchasers. Rotating their crop to a different 50 acres each year, they produce over 1.5 million potatoes annually.

But why is Food Connects so excited to welcome a new potato vendor to the team? Believe it or not, local institutions are always clamoring for a good deal on local potatoes. They are frequently on the menus for schools and hospitals—mashed, baked, fried, or au gratin. And our partner co-ops love to stock potatoes throughout the colder months.

Chappelle’s retail packs at the  Brattleboro Food Co-op .

Chappelle’s retail packs at the Brattleboro Food Co-op.

From Brattleboro Memorial Hospital to the Kurn Hatin Homes, to Grace Cottage, Chappelle’s potatoes are a hit. The Academy School and Hinsdale schools are stocking up on potatoes for their students. Both the Monadnock Food Co-op and Brattleboro Food Co-op have stocked their produce isles with this local favorite. And even VT Dinners is using Chappelle’s potatoes in their frozen dinners.

“We absolutely love the Chappelle’s potatoes,” said Ali West of Fresh Picks Café and Food Service Director for the Brattleboro Town Schools. “They are extremely affordable, come in clean, and when we used them for our chili rubbed oven fries the kids go crazy for them. Thanks to Food Connects we are able to source yet another great local product that hits all the buttons for us—taste, convenience, and affordability!”

We’re so excited to support local farmers and help local institutions invest back into our community. And make sure that you stop by Chappelle’s during their annual pick-your-own potato day to support your local farmer!

Food Connects Favorites: The Bread Shed

Food Connects works with so many amazing producers, offering such a wide variety of great products, it is sometimes hard to pick out something new to try. So we are introducing Food Connects Favorites—a blog to highlight some of our staff’s favorite products

Laura’s Favorite: The Bread Shed

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Ok, I’ll admit it—I have a wicked sweet tooth. I dream of eclairs, die for dark chocolate, and don’t mind having dessert as an appetizer every now and then. But where does my heart lie? The simple, the classic, the chocolate chip cookie. To me, no dessert is more nostalgic or comforting.

Now, like most of you, I’m a pretty busy lady. Baking doesn’t always fit into my schedule and I can be picky about my chocolate chip cookies. So when I heard that one of my favorite local bakeries, The Bread Shed, also made cookies… chocolate chip cookies… I had to give them a try.

Brittany Migneault first opened The Bread Shed in Keene, NH in 2011 and originally only sold to local farmers’ markets. As their popularity grew, they started to connect with restaurants, local stores, and even a pretty cool food hub. The quality of their bread and cookies is outstanding. They have become a popular item at my dining room table.

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Ok, ok. Back to the cookies. They are soft and chewy. They have the perfect balance of chocolate and slight buttery-vanilla sweetness. I personally love them warm, but they are really tasty when you add some maple ice cream in between two and stick them in the freezer for the perfect ice cream sandwich. And you can tell that these cookies are made with love.

The Bread Shed’s mixer, and my good friend, Glenn Sibley has worked at The Bread Shed since 2013. Glenn, their doughy Sir Mix A Lot, is in charge of mixing all the doughs for the breads and cookies they create. He prides himself on the quality of products he makes and knowing that he is putting a smile on our faces when we bite into every focaccia loaf or warmed cookie.

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“It is so satisfying to know that my work is helping an amazing local company grow,” said Glenn. “We get to make delicious food that we can share with the community, and get to partner with other local businesses. I really love what I do!”

So next time you are looking for a tasty treat from a local producer, look no further than these delectable cookies!

PS - Want to hear from another cookie lover? Check out this wholesome and funny “Ask Me Anything.”


Producer Spotlight: AlpineGlo Farm

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AlpineGlo Farm, owned and operated by the Ware Family, is a small, first generation family farm located in Westminster, VT. Their primary focus is inside the farmstead goat dairy where they produce a full line of fresh, soft goat cheeses. Every step along the production line, from farming to the final cheese making process, is completed on the farm—a true labor of love.

What’s unique is that Rachel runs the farm primarily on her own. There are not very many "one woman shows" out there—and she does it all! This includes everything from breeding, birthing, bottle feeding, raising, and retiring the goats on the farm, as well as all the daily aspects of running a farm including cleaning, milking, maintenance, veterinary care—you name it!

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The farm is very small, which is also unique in the dairy world. By staying small Rachel is able to focus on the animals with great detail and attention, and it stays intimate this way. Each animal is an integral part of the whole farm—they are considered part of the family. In fact, each year they name the baby goats with a different letter of the alphabet. They also try to follow individual name lines—all of Daisy's babies are named flower names and Clementine's baby this year was named Grapefruit!

Twice a week fresh cheese is made using the goats' milk, produced solely from their own goats. All of the cheese is handcrafted and made in small batches. Small batches and minimal processing allow them to produce a higher quality cheese than mass-produced products.

It is very important to them that food is enjoyed where it is produced. There is no need for food to travel hundreds, or even thousands, of miles when it can be sourced right here. Selling locally supports the local economy and makes you feel part of the community. Rachel wants customers to know her, her animals, and where their food comes from.