News from the field: Genuine Local sees tremendous growth
Genuine Local (GL) is a kitchen and culinary incubator space for food entrepreneurs which opened its doors in winter 2016 in Meredith. Their focus is assisting food entrepreneurs to succeed, which they do by assembling a wide range of tools and resources, including training, technical support, and regulatory assistance. GL offers a licensed production facility to growers for rent, as well as the option to hire GL to help develop their product. In addition, GL provides access to resources, such as technical assistance, labeling, product development, and a value-added catalog, which contains a list of items and recipes, providing options to growers. At the core, preserving crop surpluses and avoiding expenses associated with storing fresh produce over winter, has always been a core element of GL’s mission.
Over the past year, GL has increased grower participation by 400 percent, serving four NH growers. They have already processed 2.5 tons of fresh produce this year, and plan to continue adding to that number through the fall. Among the product categories GL works with, they have seen the most growth in squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and onion. GL gives growers the opportunity to create a value-added product, which provides benefits in many forms. Growers can diversify their product offering, potentially drawing in new customers at farmstands as well for CSAs and farmer’s markets, as well as reducing the amount of produce in cold storage, which could save money. Strategies for diversification and cost savings are becoming increasingly important for farms and food businesses to remain viable, especially as the market and competition has continued to grow.
In spite of their tremendous success thus far, Genuine Local still sees opportunity for growth. Owner Mary MacDonald says, “We would like to see more farmers making their own products in our facilities”, highlighting that this is the most cost effective way to make value-added products. Currently, most growers are working with GL to develop a recipe and hiring GL to produce that product. Mary says, “perhaps once growers gain more experience, they will branch out and try new recipes or make the products themselves”.