The expression “Buy Local” has deep-rooted meaning whether you live around here, you call the Smugglers Notch area your vacation home or you are passing through as you explore this beautiful region of the Green Mountains. To locals, it means supporting Vermont and New England products and businesses; to vacationers, it means coming home to the most sustainable and freshest this place right here has to offer; to globetrotters, it is about experiencing authentic flavor and community.
Jennifer Bishop knows good food. Since the mid-1990s, she has devoted much of her life to the culinary world in a plethora of ways that has built her knowledge, resources, and connections leading to the birth of The Farm Store.
She has held numerous positions in gourmet food stores, upscale and local-focused restaurants, and Whole Foods. After graduating from Newbury College, Brookline, MA, with a degree in Culinary Sciences, Jennifer moved to the White Mountains of New Hampshire to work as an estate caretaker for four years. Her responsibilities gardening and catering. “That’s when I started having a more direct line into sourcing the foods you’re using,” she recalls, regarding the farm-to-table approach of the meals she prepared for the family she served.
In 2001, Jennifer and her husband Noel moved to Fletcher, Vermont. In 2003 she started The Buying Club. Her customers in the Club could order fresh produce through Jennifer, and pick them up at a local farm. “Customers started inquiring about organic meats, wanting to purchase those too, and I thought, what if I ordered from Butterworks Farm?”
And that is how, by July 2010, The Buying Club slowly morphed into The Farm Store. It was then located next door to Slow Fire Bakery, on Route 15, just east of Jeffersonville. With all the contacts from wholesalers and farmers accumulated while operating The Buying Club, Jennifer had everything she needed to take a first step toward her vision of The Farm Store: Miniature farm stand meets natural food store. All items offered at The Farm Store have been hand-selected ever since, to help people shop and consume fresh and local, Vermont style.
But there is so much more to The Farm Store than meets the eye. When you ask Jennifer, she is certain to note with much gratitude that all the shelving and countertops were donated to her, continuing a sense of community which she and many of her customers thrive on. “It had been lying around with no intentions,” Jennifer might point out about the wood board that was donated by a Jeffersonville resident and that now serves as her countertop. Many area residents were so excited about The Farm Store that they generously shared what they had. They wanted to see the store happen and flourish.
Jennifer will sometimes double as your very own private buyer. “If people have allergies, I like to search and find hard items to match their diets,” she explains. Many customers rely on her for filling a void in one way or another. For some, it is saving them the time and gas of driving out of town for fresh, sustainable provisions. For others, The Farm Store is a place to see a smiling face and pick up some organic, natural foods, otherwise not available within at least a 20 mile radius.
For a customer one early spring day, it was finding that she could have authentic Polish Babka from Slowfire Bakery for Easter Sunday. “I’ve never been able to find the real thing. Some of the stores in the city had it, but it would never be the same thing,” she noted.
Stop in. Enjoy a cup of great Vermont roasted coffee, have a bite, chat with neighbors and complete strangers, and return home replenished and with wholesome, locally sourced provisions in hand.
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