Black River Produce, a 150-employee and 36 year-old Springfield company, distributes fresh produce and meats from wholesale producers and local Vermont farms and processors to a wide variety of customers, including colleges and universities, traditional restaurants, food cooperatives and small groceries in Vermont, western New Hampshire, northwestern Massachusetts, and a small section of eastern New York State. Vermont Packinghouse is a new fee-for-service slaughterhouse and meat processing business.
In 2008 Black River Produce expanded its product line to include a full range of local meats – poultry, beef, pork, smoked meats and game birds raised in Vermont and New Hampshire on sustainable family farms. It quickly became clear the barrier to continued growth was the supply chain, most notably the slaughter and processing of animals. Black River Produce addressed this obstacle by integrating the slaughter and processing industries through a partnership with Vermont Packinghouse.
This project furthers the meat processing strategic goals of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, Working Landscape Partnership, and Working Lands Enterprise Initiative and brings a minimum of 35 new jobs to the economically distressed area and up to 65 jobs thereafter. Ancillary job creation, retention, and wealth generation on farms through increased local meat production is also anticipated as a result of this project.
As a further benefit to the community, Black River Produce will share a percentage of its net profits as grants to assist producer scale-up and infrastructure improvement; scholarships for Vermont Technical College, Howard Dean Educational Center and Hannaford Career Center students; on-site internships; and support to Vermont Food Bank and other community events and organizations.