The COVID-19 Era has been a challenge for small businesses of all types, but every challenge contains an opportunity to respond to adversity. How are local food makers responding and finding some success? With strength in numbers, teaming up and supporting each other. Here are three examples of local food producers teaming up in creative ways to do better together.
- Virtual Happy Hour Kits — We’ve all become suddenly adept at using Zoom and Microsoft Teams and other virtual chat tools over the last couple of months. Virtual Happy Hours have become a way to stay in touch and have a little fun with friends and co-workers in the new social distancing environment. What better way to enjoy your virtual happy hour and support local businesses at the same time than to buy a pre-assembled Virtual Happy Hour kit? DeeAnn Lufkin, owner of CannonBelles Cheese in Cannon Falls, MN, has teamed up with other local makers to provide items such as her own cheese, apple pepper jelly from Grandma’s Gourmets (Albert Lea, MN), chocolate truffles from Curly Girlz Candy (Owatonna, MN) and other local products.
She had so much success with that offer that she put together a Bloody Mary Bag including her cheese curds, Jalapeno Bloody Mary Mix from Infusion Gardens (Stillwater, MN), Bloody Mary Pickles from Grandma’s Gourmets and turkey sticks from Ferndale Farms.
2. Community Supported Agriculture — River Rock Kitchen & Bakery has always sourced as many local, organic, and seasonal ingredients as possible by working with local farmers who practice organic and sustainable farming. Now Montana Rasmussen, owner of River Rock, is taking it a step further by including her freshly baked bread in Community Supported Agriculture programs. CSAs provide fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables to pre-paid subscribers on a periodic basis, and now they get River Rock’s fresh bread made with ingredients from those same local farms as part of their package. Said Montana, “we are pleased with the results and are already up to 100 loaves of bread per week with this new program.”
3. Boozy Bakery Partners — Sara Hayden started Sara’s Tipsy Pies (Stillwater, MN) as a way to focus on her love of baking pies that she learned from her mom, and also to team up with other local businesses such as nearby Lift Bridge Brewery, Chateau St Croix Winery and St Croix Vineyards for unique, booze-infused flavors. With the health crisis, Sara says she has, “focused on comfort foods and things that may be more like what people remember and feel good about from their childhood.” Her latest partnerships are with 7 Vines Vineyard (Dellwood, MN) with Sara using their True North white wine in savory flavors such as a Chicken Mushroom Kiev pie, and Winehaven Winery (Chisago City, MN) in unique bundts such as a Chocolate Cherry Cheers cake.
The aspiration of a community is to support each other so that all can do better together. The local food making community of Minnesota is proving that is true not only personally but professionally as well.