From back roads, to your table

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Staff report

BRATTLEBORO — On Dec. 16, Gov. Phil Scott honored recipients of this year's Vermont Building Communities Grants for Regional Economic Development. One of those businesses is Back Roads Food Co. LLC, which received an award of $15,000 to help the company finalize a major investment in its Brattleboro production facility. With new processing equipment, Back Roads will be able to fulfill a growing demand for its organic, non-GMO, gluten free and kosher granola and oats.

Back Roads is a good example of Vermont's farm-to-table economy. The origins of the company go back to 2003, when Peter and Virginia Vogel founded Vermont Gold, one of the first to package maple syrup in glass bottles, and they pioneered using maple syrup as a major ingredient in food products. When the Vogels sold their company to Bascoms, they took up llama breeding and launched another business — the Spirit Hill Farm B&B. Guests fell in love with the homemade maple-sweetened granola being served at the B&B and wanted to buy more to take home. Based on that demand, the Vogels started producing in bulk and sold to the Brattleboro Food Co-op.

Eventually, the Vogels moved back into the same space at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation's Cotton Mill where they had started Vermont Gold. With the new investment in production, Back Roads is on track to produce 4,000 pounds of granola per day with 21 local employees. By improving production scale the firm can improve profitability and acquire larger accounts, including nationwide grocery chains.

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