Now committed to the benefits and promotion of locally grown food, they are extremely involved in the community. Here, Carol discusses their farm and work in more detail.
What is nature of your business?
We grow a wide variety of vegetables. We use only organic practices and sell our vegetables at the Rutland farmers market (summer and winter) and to area schools and restaurants.
How/why did the company begin? What was the inspiration, the story behind its beginning?
While Dennis’ early years were spent on his family’s farm, neither of us had any significant farming experience before starting Radical Roots Farm. Dennis had worked in the lumber industry and was the produce manager for the Rutland Food Co-op. I was a teacher and worked at the University of New Hampshire for over a decade.
Shortly after moving to Rutland, thanks to the generosity of the late Harold Billings and Mary Ashcroft, we began to use a small plot of their land to grow vegetables for our family. It was such wonderful land – fertile and fruitful – and before long, we decided to start Radical Roots Farm and begin farming full time.
How did you get where you are today with the business (has it changed focus, grown, down-sized, etc.)?
While farming takes the bulk of our time, we try to stay very involved with our local community.
We have both served on various boards of directors, including the Creative Economy, the Rutland Food Co-op, and the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link and we are proud of the part we played in creating a community garden in our Northwest neighborhood of Rutland City.
I teach at CCV in Rutland and love my connection with the students and the staff. We feel extremely lucky to be a part of this wonderful community.
How long have you been a Rutland Farmers Market/VFFC vendor? What is your favorite aspect of being part of the VFFC community?
We have been a part of the Vermont Farmers Market for six years and love setting up our stand at both summer and winter markets. While it is extremely satisfying to present a full array of beautiful vegetables each week, by far our favorite part of market is the people.
It never ceases to amaze us how supportive our community is, and how committed people are to buying their food from local farms and farmers. We know there are people outside Vermont who think local food is just a fad, but we know better. Local food and farms are the future of food!
As we reconnect with all the land has to offer, we also reconnect with who we are as a community. And that is no fad!
As a business owner, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
When we started farming we knew we were going to have to work hard to be successful. The first few years were the hardest; we were literally learning on the job and making lots of mistakes along the way.
But the satisfaction we reap every day is remarkable. We get to see the miracle of a huge cabbage grow from a tiny seed. We get to see the smiling faces of the children who eat our food in their school cafeterias. We get to hear people tell us about the meals they created using only local ingredients. And we get to honor Mother Nature as she challenges us to be worthy of the generations of Vermont farmers who came before us.
And that makes all of the hard work worth it!
If you are a locally-owned Rutland area small business or sole-proprietorship and would like to be featured in A Business Story, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Joanna Tebbs Young is a freelance writer and writing workshop facilitator living in Rutland. Contact her at email@example.com, wisdomwithinink.com, HYPERLINK “http://facebook.com/TheWritersRoomatAllenHouse”facebook.com/TheWritersRoomatAllenHous