State Partners With Westminster Farm To Sell Vermont Food In Boston

Jun 3, 2015

The state of Vermont has partnered with a Westminster farm to sell food at a new year-round market set to open in Boston next month. 

Harlow Farm will operate Harlow's Vermont Farmstand at the Boston Public Market, and will sell its own organic produce, in addition to dairy and maple products from around the state.

A family farm since 1917, Harlow Farm was an early adopter in the organic movement, becoming certified in 1985.

"The Boston market has always been one that we've actually been serving for a number of years," says Harlow Farm manager Jon Slason. "We've been doing wholesale business down in that way for many years, and ... we've been looking at broadening out our opportunities to sell in New England, and going more retail, more farmers markets. This has always been kind of our plan."

Chelsea Bardot Lewis, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture's business development administrator, says the public-private partnership is an exciting development in the state's domestic export program, which was established as part of an economic bill signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2014. Bardot Lewis says the location of the market, in Boston's Haymarket neighborhood, will help introduce Vermont products to an entirely new customer base.

"It's a great location right in the center of Boston ... not too far from Quincy Market and near the North End. It's going to get really great exposure, both from visitors to Boston as well as local Bostonians," she says. "And we hope also that our ex-pat Vermonters who are based in Boston will get a little taste of home."

"We've been looking at broadening out our opportunities to sell in New England, and going more retail, more farmers markets. This has always been kind of our plan." - Jon Slason, Harlow Farm manager

Together, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture and Agency of Commerce are contributing $25,000 to the venture. And Harlow Farm manager Jon Slason says the farm will invest up to between $75,000 and $100,000 of its own capital.

"It would have been nearly impossible for us just to do it alone," Slason says. "We're going to hire at least two full-time people, then with probably two to three people part-time. And we're going to be setting up a new business, and so it's going to be a brand new venture for us."

Harlow Farm was also awarded a $50,000 Working Lands Enterprise Initiative Grant earlier this year for a vacuum cooler and additional ice-making capacity shipping and storage, though Bardot Lewis says the extra support from the state is not directly related.

"They have a lot new projects underway this year. Certainly having that additional processing and loading dock capacity will help them supply the market, but they are two somewhat distinct projects," she says.

"It's going to get really great exposure, both from visitors to Boston as well as local Bostonians. And we hope also that our ex-pat Vermonters who are based in Boston will get a little taste of home." - Chelsea Bardot Lewis, Agency of Agriculture business development administrator

Harlow's Vermont Farmstead has already established relationships with more than a dozen Vermont producers, though Bardot Lewis says says it's not too late for other producers to get involved.

Of the 30-plus vendors currently on the market's roster, only one other vendor is based in Vermont: The Cellars at Jasper Hill. The rest are based in Massachusetts, with the exception of a Rhode Island charcuterie producer.