Retreat Farm invests in the next generation of agricultural entrepreneurs

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Last week, Retreat Farm announced the opening of the Retreat Farm Market in June 2024.

Vermont Business Magazine Last week, Retreat Farm announced the opening of the Retreat Farm Market in June 2024. Located in the former Grafton Village Cheese Company facility, this high-traffic location sees over 90,000 visitors annually, providing a unique opportunity to showcase the intersection of the land, farmers, and food production.  

The 2,300-square-foot Retreat Farm Market will be part of a new Food Center at Retreat Farm that highlights regional food producers dedicated to stewarding the land and their communities through environmental leadership, employee commitment, community giving, and workplace culture.  

"We have an opportunity to invest in the success of the next generation of farmers and local food-based businesses by working directly with emerging producers to showcase the good work they're doing in our communities. At the same time, we'll help visitors understand their role in the food system, to make informed purchases that positively impact our local economy and culture," shared executive director Kristin Sullivan. 

Since acquiring the facility from the Windham Foundation in 2022, Retreat Farm has drawn on expertise from a regional advisory committee and local partners to develop the museum-inspired retail concept and food center. Partners include the Brattleboro Food Co-Op and Food Connects. 

"The Retreat Farm Market will complement what we do at the Co-op but differentiates itself by tying our food system together with a historic farm and the programming Retreat Farm is known for," reflected general manager of the Brattleboro Food Co-Op, Anthony Santorelli. 

The Market will continue cheese tastings while creating new experiences that connect visitors with featured producers, including cheese and beverage pairings, immersive chocolate-themed trail walks, and a weekend Fermentation Festival in September. 

"We're excited by Retreat Farm's vision of creating an educational, retail space that showcases many of the awesome producers we work with. This will be an exciting addition to our food system and one we look forward to working with for years to come," commented Richard Berkfield of Food Connects.

Visitors will also be able to view FinAllie Ferments - the Food Center's inaugural tenant, creating its line of fermented foods - through viewing windows in the mezzanine of the retail space. In addition to FinAllie Ferments, the 26,000 sqft factory space will eventually feature a cheesemaker and a commercial kitchen — providing an opportunity for emerging producers to do small batches and test limited-run products.

Owner and operator Allie Dercoli of FinAlle Ferments shared, "We're excited and grateful for the opportunity to ferment more Vermont veggies at the Food Center. Retreat Farm and FinAllie Ferments align with our vision to support local farmers, and we look forward to this new partnership." 

The acquisition of the Grafton facility by Retreat Farm was fully funded through a $3M Senate Appropriation secured by Senator Leahy in collaboration with Retreat Farm founder Buzz Schmidt. Administered by the Small Business Administration, the grant covered the building's $2.25M acquisition and $750k in infrastructure improvements and renovations.

Value-added producers interested in being a part of the Retreat Farm Market and Food Center are encouraged to submit products for consideration at retreatfarm.org or by contacting Retail Manager Thomas Lamppa at [email protected].

Source: 4.28.2024. Brattleboro, VT, Retreat Farm
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