Vermont Quince Partners
The very best part of running a small Vermont food business are the critical relationships formed as the company grows. These working partnerships take many forms and involve activities ranging from production, sales, and plain old consultation.
We fortunately are based in a state that is hugely supportive of its food sector so there always are splendid opportunities for business advice, technical support, and financing opportunities. For many years, Vermont Quince has benefited from an ongoing relationship with terrific business advisors at VT-SBDC and Vermont Community Loan Fund, both of whom took the initiative to reach out to offer support very early after the pandemic emerged. Working as a solopreneur, sometimes the weight of exclusive decision-making can feel oppressive. I consider having two such competent, compassionate, and clever women on the Vermont Quince team among the most valuable assets.
On the production side, Vermont Quince has been blessed with two critical kitchen partners for over six years. Harlow Farm (pictured here at sunset from the Westminster farm kitchen) has made it possible for us to process nearly 16 tons of locally grown quince since 2013 into the puree and sliced fruit we feature in our product line. Their kitchen also was equipped such that all our product development and scaling could happen there affordably. In short, Vermont Quince would not exist today without the generosity of so many at Harlow Farm - the kitchen and farm managers, the forklift & tractor operators, the produce washers, and even the other kitchen users. Every day that we cooked in their kitchen, I marveled at the self-organizing marvel of the local food system.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic firmed up our decision to cut back on our product line and at least temporarily, only produce those products co-packed by our other critical kitchen partner, the husband-and-wife team at Fox Meadow in Mount Holly. Since 2014, Steve and Joann have taken the time to learn all involved with the cooking and packaging of Vermont Quince's quince paste, Marmelada (quince preserves), Quince Mustard, Quince-Ginger-Lime Chutney, and Quince-Infused Vinegar, the products currently sold through food distributors. So, for the time being, Vermont Quince is no longer relying on the shared farm and community kitchens at Harlow Farm and West River Community Project as we have in the past.
In terms of sourcing, Alyson's Orchard, just across the Connecticut River in Walpole, New Hampshire - less than 15 miles from Harlow Farm, genuinely is our godsend. The formation of Vermont Quince coincided with the maturity of the orchard's 50 or so trees and the rest is history. Since 2013, orchard manager Homer Dunn has served as a champion for local distribution of locally grown quince and an unsung hero of Vermont Quince.
On the sales side of things, once again we are honored to be represented by several organizations committed to the distribution of locally grown quince. Since 2014, specialty food and Vermont cheese purveyor extraordinaire Provisions International has carried our quince paste, quince mustard, and quince-infused vinegar. More recently, Specialty Foods Boston has made our fresh lemony membrillo available to discriminating Boston chefs and Farmers To You has offered and trucked several Vermont Quince products to Boston-area families weekly. Brattleboro-based non-profit distributor Food Connects ensures that locals enjoy locally grown quince by selling three products to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, co-ops, and other institutions. We consider all four distributors to be enormously important partners.
Our long-time sales partner extraordinaire is Grafton Village Cheese Company. We could sing their praises all day long! In addition to introducing so many area visitors and locals to the ancient fruit of happiness, good fortune & love at their fabulous Brattleboro cheese shop for over five years, Grafton assists with our storage, shipping, and event sales. Another shining example of our local food system at work to hopefully mutual and community benefit!
And as of autumn 2021, we are honored to be partnering with mighty Vermont cheesemaker Jasper Hill which selected first, our quince mustard and now, our quince paste to complement their various cheese collections. This development has given our tiny company a welcome boost after a trying time.
Anyway, you probably get the idea about how much we value each and every "partner" in this effort. We'll no doubt be sharing more about this in the future. These relationships truly represent Vermont Quince's lifeblood.