Regionally Sourced Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
PLEASE NOTE: The Neighboring Food Co-op Association's (NFCA) frozen fruits and vegetables program is currently on hold as we explore options and logistics for the future. "Farm to Freezer" was a pilot project of the NFCA designed to help us explore the potential for value-added regional produce in collaboration with local farmers and processors. The information below is provided for those interested in the project. Conducted between 2011 and 2013, the project enabled us to learn a great deal about the realities of developing stronger regional food systems. Based on this learning, the NFCA and its partners decided to discontinue the program while we focus on some of the key obstacles to its long-term success. Our hope is that as we begin to address some of these challenges, we will be able to expand our efforts in the future. In the meantime, we want to thank our member co-ops, our partners and organizational supporters such as the National Co-operative Grocers (NCG), and especially the enthusiastic consumers who made this project a success.
Your food co-op works hard to source products that strengthen local economies, support sustainable agriculture and grow the co-operative movement. Food co-ops across our region have been innovators in the food system, from healthy food, to organic farming and fair trade.
More recently, members of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) have been working together to build infrastructure for a thriving regional economy. As we seek to source products in a way that supports a more healthy, just and sustainable food system, we noticed that most of the frozen fruits and vegetables on our shelves were grown on large, industrial farms and processed by distant corporations. Could this be an opportunity for us to work together to create change?
In 2011, the NFCA partnered with Sunrise Orchards in Cornwall, VT, to explore the possibilities. Working in collaboration with family farmers, agricultural co-ops such as Deep Root Organic Co-op, and regional processors, the NFCA launched a pilot of frozen products grown, processed and packaged right here in the Northeast. “It was exciting, in a year of so many challenges for farmers, to release a line of regionally sourced, family farmed frozen produce,” said David Dolginow of Sunrise Orchards. “And it wouldn't have happened without the partnership of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association.”
This year, the NFCA has continued its collaboration with Sunrise Orchards and Deep Root Organic Co-op to further develop the project, introducing more certified organic produce and expanding the period of availability. The products are also processed and packaged here in our region by Farm to Table Co-Packers and the Vermont Food Venture Center.
Together, we are extending the marketing season for family farmers in the Northeast, and increasing the availability of healthy, sustainably grown, regionally sourced and processed fruits and vegetables for consumers. Starting this November, look for these products at your local Neighboring Food Co-ops:
- Blueberries. Our delicious highbush blueberries were grown by Green Mountain Orchards and Harlow’s Sugar House in Putney, VT. The growers practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control insect pests, weeds and diseases in their fields.
- Organic Broccoli. Les Vallons Maraîchers is located in Compton, Québec, just a few short miles from the northern Vermont border. Members of Deep Root Organic Co-op since 1997, Jacques Blain and Josee Gaudet believe that farming is about a passion and love for the land. This love shines through in the vegetables that they grow, including our delicious organic broccoli.
- Organic Green Beans. Martin and Christa Stosiek started Markristo Farm in 1988 on the land where Martin was raised in Hillsdale, NY. Active board members of Berkshire Grown, the Stosiek's are committed to healthy food systems and sustainable agriculture. We are proud to offer their organically grown green beans as part of our project this year.
- Sweet Corn. Our delicious, non-GMO sweet corn is grown by Gill Farm in New York State. First planted by John Gill’s grandfather in 1937, the farm now produces a wide variety of produce using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods.
- Organic Sweet Corn. Jane Sorensen and David Marchant of River Berry Farm in Fairfax, VT, have been providing the tastiest organic fruits and vegetables since 1992, and have been members of Deep Root Organic Co-op for most of those years. From their farm to your freezer, we are proud to offer delicious, regionally grown, organic sweet corn.
“We have really appreciated the opportunity to work with the NFCA on this project,” says Anthony Mirisciotta, Deep Root Organic Co-op’s general manager. “This collaboration has produced some great, regionally sourced frozen foods that can be enjoyed year round, as fresh as the day they were picked. This is what really excites us!”
Neighboring Food Co-op Association frozen fruits and vegetables are available for a limited time, so don't miss out! They are easy to find in your food co-op’s freezer section — they’re packed in a clear package so you can see what’s inside. And for a map of member food co-ops in our region, please visit www.nfca.coop/members.
We hope that you will try these products and let us know what you think.
Want a great recipe to delight your taste buds and impress your family and guests at your table? Kay Litten, a Board member of Co-op Food Stores of New Hampshire and Vermont and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), has a great recipe to share. Grab a package of NFCA New England Blueberries and follow along to make Kay’s Famous “Farm to Freezer” Lemon Lavender Blueberry Sauce: www.nfca.coop/blueberryrecipe