Faces of New England is a group of farm and food businesses, working with Health Care Without Harm to grow their businesses to meet the needs of institutional buyers. Each Faces business is unique —some of them grow a raw product, and some process local foods to extend the season and increase its utility for institutional food service directors. As the program enters its final quarter, participants are sharing unexpected ways that it has influenced their businesses – namely by creating partnerships between them.
Tony Risatano of Deep Root Organic Co-op in Johnson, Vermont, approached the program as an opportunity to collaborate from the beginning, “I was really hoping to use the resources available through Faces to work with the Vermont Food Venture Center on a certified organic product for institutions,” said Risatano. After coordinating with the Faces technical assistance provider and each other, the two companies are working together on research and design of a 20-pound case of frozen root vegetables diced into 1-inch pieces.
A three-part Faces collaboration was born when Stephanie Zydenbos of Micro Mama’s in Weare, N.H., began sourcing cabbage from Jericho Settlers Farm for her delicious fermented kimchi, sauerkraut, and other products – thereby stretching the New England season through the depths of winter. Those fermented delights (and the cabbage therein) will be available more widely now because of a distribution partnership between Micro Mama’s and Three River Farmers Alliance. As a result, Micro Mama’s will be available in new parts of New Hampshire, and the distribution burden is taken off Stephanie, allowing her to focus on fermentation.
These partnerships were not the goal of Faces of New England, but an exciting and unanticipated result.