Vermont Companies Support Equipment Needs at Vermont Food Venture Center!

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Posted: December 2, 2010

Hardwick, VT- December 6, 2010- What do Ben and Jerry’s, Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Butternut Mountain Farm, Vermont Soy and Rhino Foods have in common? All have recently announced support of the procurement of equipment for the new Vermont Food Venture Center (VFVC) food-business incubator facility in Hardwick. In an innovative move to provide high quality equipment for a wide range of Vermont food processors the steering committee of the VFVC is reaching out to all signature Vermont food companies, restaurants and grocers for the donation of processing equipment. “The early response has exceeded our expectations,” said Tom Stearns, a member of the VFVC steering committee. “We have reached out to companies and they have been very generous in their offerings.”

Andrew Meyer of Vermont Soy said “We’ve had a lot of support from other businesses in Vermont and I think there’s a real collaborative effort in Vermont to build a food industry and build a health food industry, and in order to do that we’ve got to share in the resources we have.  I decided to donate some equipment my business has ‘out grown’- to help other businesses develop their products”

Allison Hooper of Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery expressed support for the idea. “I remember the early days of our business when we were ‘making do’ with well worn cheese vats and packaging machines. Access to quality equipment is essential for the production of quality food.”

Rob Michalak, Director of Social Mission for Ben & Jerry’s said “Ben & Jerry’s is pleased to be alongside many other Vermont businesses and organizations in supporting the launch of the Vermont Food Venture Center. This new food enterprise and others like it are going to continue to build a healthy food system in our state where small-scale farmers can prosper and we can create home-grown economic opportunities. We’re convinced that the success of the Food Venture Center will be a success for our state, and it’s aligned with Ben & Jerry’s broader mission to support safe and sustainable methods of food production. Our hats are off to the visionary men and women who have made this into a reality.”

The VFVC is a 15,000 square foot multi-purpose food processing building located in the Hardwick Industrial Park on Junction Street. It will provide an opportunity for food-business entrepreneurs to test and grow new production, distribution and marketing approaches. The VFVC is sponsored by The Center for an Agricultural Economy, and the Vermont Small Business Development Center, in collaboration with the USDA , Vermont Community Development Program and the Economic Development Agency.  Opening is scheduled for Spring 2011.


“We are thrilled to have other companies join our effort,” Meyers stated about the collaboration with Ben and Jerry’s, Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Vermont Soy, Butternut Mountain Farm and Rhino Foods. “Now we are broadening our request to any Vermont company or institution that can donate good, working commercial food processing equipment.” Meyers stated the VFVC is in need of commercial refrigerators, stoves, sinks, counters, shelving, and specialized processing equipment. Cash donations are also welcome. All donations to the VFVC are tax-deductible.


The VFVC’s mission is to provide professional food-processing opportunities to regional agricultural producers in a way that increases the value of that agricultural production, adds living wage jobs, strengthens Vermont’s local food network, and further integrates the agricultural economy into the life of the Hardwick community.

Tenants at the VFVC will benefit from a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to helping regional food-based businesses test and grow their product development, marketing and distribution plans. The facility has been designed from the ground-up to accommodate a variety of processing initiatives, including meat, dairy, baked goods, sauces, syrups, vegetables and more. Plans are being finalized with anchor tenants for the dairy processing and meat processing cells. The facility also includes capacities for bulk storage, refrigeration, and truck receiving/delivery.

Training, technical support and guidance to tenants is an essential aspect of the VFVC incubator model; one-on-one support as well as referrals and networking will be available in the areas of product development, food safety, sales, marketing and distribution. Meeting rooms and other shared spaces will facilitate collaboration among tenants.


Please contact us about donating, or for additional information. We look forward to working with you.


Louise Calderwood, Interim Project Manager

802-586-2239, or cell 802-279-2788 (poor coverage in NE VT)


The Center for an Agricultural Economy

41 S. Main Street, P.O. Box 451

Hardwick, Vermont 05843

(802) 472-5840

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