Food Hub

Producer Spotlight: Vermont Salumi

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There is a certain artistry when it comes to handmade charcuterie and Peter Roscini Colman, founder of Vermont Salumi, has it down to a science. Pete grew up on Cate Farm, a pioneer of Vermont's organic movement and spent summers in Umbria with his family. Through his family connections studied under famed butchers who taught him the methods, techniques, and centuries-old traditions of salumi-making.

Vermont Salumi the first company in Vermont to produce traditional Italian salami and sausage and Pete takes pride in his work, “I really enjoy each of the products we produce, if I don't like it, I don't make it!” And one bite of their Proscuitto Cuto will have you convinced.

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But even with roots aboard selling his products locally it of the utmost importance to Pete. “The local food economy elevates the quality of food I eat and it keeps our dollars in the state supporting our neighbors. Food Connects helps us reach a new thriving customer base that we didn't have access to previously.”

And for the future of Vermont Salumi? “We are working on opening a new retail store front in Barre, Vermont—along with a slew of new products. We'll keep you posted!”

Our Food Hub Hits Record Sales Growth

The cooler jam-packed with local food!

The cooler jam-packed with local food!

Thanks to the support of our customers and tireless work of our producers, the Food Hub is growing—and growing quickly! Between July and the end of September, Food Connects sold and transported $202,100 of local food. That means FC sales grew 60% over the previous quarter, and 61% over the same period in 2018. Our largest sales week totaled $19,055, which represents a 46% increase over our strongest week in 2018. Since this time last year, we have added 16 new producers to our regular catalog. Items from those new producers accounted for sales of more than $36,000 in Q3 and $60,000 in 2019 to-date.

While our small-but-mighty staff hustles to move more and more weekly orders, we are laying the groundwork for future growth. In Q3, among other projects, we:

  • bought a second refrigerated van for our delivery fleet; 

  • added an Operations Coordinator position; 

  • saw our cooler/freezer facility construction project nearing completion; 

  • began transitioning online sales to a new platform; 

  • and launched a new delivery route to the Mt. Sunapee area in New Hampshire.

New cooler, mid construction.

New cooler, mid construction.

The next two quarters will be no less busy. In October, we will finally move 100% of our operations into our new Brattleboro facility, where we’ll be able to handle, store, and care for products to the highest possible standards, and where we’ll have the space to continue this year’s rate of growth into 2020 and beyond. In Q4, we’ll begin regular routes to the Pioneer Valley, to the Upper Valley, and all the way to Burlington. With these new routes, Food Connects will tap into areas that have never before been served by a wholesale food hub. We’ll also access new products for our catalog, so that all our customers can enjoy an even broader selection of the exceptional foods this region has to offer. 


Producer Spotlight: Picadilly Farm

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If you haven’t already, we recommend visiting Picadilly Farm in Winchester, NH. Owned and operated by Bruce and Jenny Wooster, Picadilly Farm is nestled among the fields and hills of southwestern New Hampshire, right along the Vermont and Massachusetts borders. For the past 14 years, the farm has grown certified organic produce for the region.

Known for their delicious produce, Picadilly boasts a CSA following of over 1,000 households. The land was a dairy farm for several generations and the farmers who lived here before the Woosters moved next door when they retired. “They come over and get a Picadilly Farm share with us—it's been a rich relationship!” says Jenny. Community connections are important for local farms to thrive and Picadilly is no exception. The Farm Fund through the Monadnock Food Co-op and Cheshire County Conservation District awarded Picadilly Farm a grant to add a 25-foot long storage space that accommodates another 18,000 – 20,000 pounds of root crops due to

“We are a big-little farm—big enough to hire a sizeable seasonal crew and have fleet of trucks and tractors, but too small to supply the grocery chains,” says Jenny. “We rely on a diversity of crops, rather than specializing in a handful. We've tried out a range of agricultural ventures, from laying hens, to turkeys, to winter greens. These days, Bruce is dabbling in growing popcorn commercially—we'll see! "Picadilly Popcorn" has a nice ring to it.”

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Staying small allows them to focus on local customers. “Locally is the only way we want to sell. Our work is as much about relationships as it is about the products we offer. Locally oriented customers are at the heart of the success and sustainability of our farm.” Picadilly Farm not only sells produce through Food Connects, but buys it as well. “It's super convenient to work with Food Connects as both a grower, and as a buyer for our small farm stand. Growing for a local market means weaving together lots and lots of relationships, and often it means filling lots and lots of small orders. Consolidation through Food Connects is an obvious win, as we can reach more buyers in our region.”

With so many products it might be hard to choose a favorite. Jenny is a fan of growing, harvesting, selling, and eating the orange crops—cantaloupes, sweet potatoes, and fall carrots top her list. So what are you waiting for? Try out some of this great, local produce today!

Food Connects Partners with the NH Food Bank

Food Connects is partnering with the New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities NH, to bring local produce to food pantries throughout New Hampshire. 

This spring, the New Hampshire Food Bank received a grant totaling $25,000 from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation to provide local produce to food pantries in the Monadnock and Upper Valley regions of New Hampshire. The NH Food Bank partnered with Food Connects, based out of Brattleboro, VT, on the procurement and distribution of this farm fresh product. Food Connects delivers local food to schools, hospitals, restaurants, and grocery stores from a large network of regional farmers and producers. 

With Food Connects’ established delivery infrastructure in the Food Bank’s target areas, the partnership between the two organizations provided multiple deliveries of fresh fruits and vegetables to 9 New Hampshire food pantries, including LISTEN Food Pantry, the Jaffrey Food Pantry, the Community Kitchen of Keene, and the Upper Valley Senior Center, serving more than 8,829 people. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, 1 in 9 individuals and 12 percent of children in NH struggle with hunger. Both Food Connects and the NH Food Bank prioritize increasing access to local food throughout their communities. 

“Fresh produce is so critical to people’s health, yet often one of the hardest things for us to get our hands on,” says Angela Zhang, Program Services Director for LISTEN Community Services located in Lebanon, NH. “We can’t stress enough how thrilled people were to get such a variety of delicious fruits and vegetables—the strawberries and blueberries were especially a hit! It’s a welcome change from canned and dried goods. They were all snapped up in just two days!”

Scott Berzofsky, Food Hub Operations Coordinator, delivering fresh produce to LISTEN Community Services.

Scott Berzofsky, Food Hub Operations Coordinator, delivering fresh produce to LISTEN Community Services.

In the first round of deliveries, the grant funds allowed the food pantries to purchase over 30 locally produced products including 120 pounds of cucumbers, 240 pounds of ground beef, and 100 bunches of beets along with peppers, tomatoes, squash, yogurt, and cheese. This food not only feeds local community members but supports local farmers and producers—in fact, over 20 different producers in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts benefited from the partnership.

“We are really excited to partner with the NH Food Bank on this project!” says McKenna Hayes, Food Connects’ Operations Manager. “We know this is a traditionally under-served demographic and we sometimes have difficulty reaching them through our regular delivery locations. Everyone should have access to fresh produce, and we’re really lucky that we get to provide the aggregation and distribution services to help make that a reality this season. We look forward to expanding this program and continuing to partner with the NH Food Bank.”

“The New Hampshire Food Bank is proud to partner with Food Connects in providing these funds to get more fresh, nutritious food to those in need in western New Hampshire,” said Eileen Liponis, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Food Bank.  “Eating nutritious food, including more fresh fruits and vegetables, is the first step toward improving on one’s health.”

Meet Our New Operations Coordinator—Scott Berzofsky

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Food Connects extends a warm welcome to Scott Berzofsky, our new Food Hub Operations Coordinator. Residing in Putney, VT, Scott has worked to promote food justice and support local food systems for over a decade, most recently as the co-owner of Avenue Grocery in Brattleboro.

From 2007 to 2010, Scott helped found a community garden on a vacant lot in East Baltimore; By leveraging grant funding and grass-roots organizing, they engaged community members in the initiative so that it grew to be self-sustaining. Scott also worked on Calvert’s Gift Farm, a small organic farm in Baltimore County as part of a program through the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension focused on apprenticing younger generations.

At his core, Scott is an artist, organizer, and educator. He taught courses in the Sustainability & Social Practice Concentration at the Maryland Institute College of Art and holds a Master of Science in Art, Culture, and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scott recognizes the intersection of the arts and food. “Both are about aesthetics—our senses. And how we experience the world,” says Scott. “Food is the way most people connect to the natural world and local food systems are critical for creating healthy and sustainable communities. I’m excited to work at Food Connects to help build a strong local food system and increase food justice and access to healthy food.”

“We are so psyched to have Scott on board,” says McKenna, Food Hub Operations Manager. “Scott brings with him many meaningful relationships with local farmers, producers, and customers in our region. Coupled with his passion for social justice and local food systems, I know he is a valuable asset to our team.”

So what are Scott’s fun facts? He and his partner have a newborn, he loves Vietnamese food and all the amazing Mexican restaurants in the Brattleboro area, and fondly remembers spending Christmases with his Norwegian grandmother dancing and singing around a Christmas tree in the center of the living room. Welcome Scott!