On Route 7 in Shelburne a winery, a brewery, two farms and other food-related businesses have created what some are calling a "culinary corridor." A refurbished factory there is home to two food businesses and efforts are under way part of the effort to bring more food ventures to the area.
Shelburne Green is a LEED-certified complex of one-story metal buildings created after developers spent $3.5 million renovating the old Barrecrafter ski poles and ski racks factory. Located off of Route 7 on the south end of Shelburne, it sits on 20 acres zoned for manufacturing and office space. Along with a couple of real estate brokers, an agricultural activist named Macy Mulligan has been trying to find tenants for Shelburne Green.
"I just knew that this can be a global showcase, just to feature the best of Vermont in the best location in the state under one roof, Mulligan said. "I just knew that this could be this amazing project."
Mulligan has played a pivotal role in bringing in a number of tenants. One of the first tenants is EatingWell Magazine, which left an office plaza in Charlotte last February. EatingWell has a staff of 30, a circulation of 500,000 and a web site that is ranked among the top 20 food websites in the world. Employees are thrilled with their new digs, says food editor Jessie Price. She showed me around the magazine’s test kitchen, which has two islands, four refrigerators and four stoves.
"We’re looking at beautiful ripe papayas that are the right color," pointed out Price. "We’re shooting yellow papayas. And then Hillary’s working on breakfast sandwiches and Caroline’s working on avocados."
EatingWell may be a player in big-time food journalism but Jessie Price says she appreciates the bucolic setting and the idea of being located near like-minded businesses.
"The sort of creativity and just sort of the serendipity of having other food businesses right in this space just is really energizing" Price said.
One of the other food businesses destined for Shelburne Green is the Teeny Tiny Spice Company, which Ed and Thora Pomicter have been running out of their basement in Shelburne for the last for two years.
Thora showed off their goods. "Here’s our British curry and our Cajun spice. Chocolate chili. Down the row we have some vindaloo, West African curry, Himalayan pink salt, Jamaican jerk."
Thora and Ed do a lot of their work late at night and on weekends. Their basement is crammed with a couple of tons of spices, an industrial grinder and stainless steel sinks. The Teeny Tiny Spice Company’s mixtures are sold in 24 states. The Pomicters were at a national food show not long ago where their products were received enthusiastically. That’s when they first learned of Shelburne Green.
"We were sitting in our hotel lobby trying to think of what our next move would be as far as moving out of the house because we were really thinking that that was going to be in the near future, and we happened to get an email from Macy, reaching out to us," explained Ed.
The Teeny Tiny Spice Company is expected to move into its thousand square foot headquarters in Shelburne Green early next year. It won’t have a retail outlet there but the Pomicters says they are open to the idea of allowing the public watch them make their spice mixtures. That’s in line with the complex’s approach. Says Macy Mulligan,"We want to do clear panel walls for people to see the bread being made and the tables being made. We want you to really see it, taste it, smell it, you know, get the full experience. We want you to really see what’s going on."
Mulligan is currently pursuing a chocolate maker, a coffee roaster and a whiskey maker.
The complex became available a little over a year ago and roughly a third of the space is still un-occupied. But Patricia Moulton-Powden, deputy secretary of Commerce and Community Development, thinks Shelburne Green still has potential as a hub for value-added agriculture that will also attract tourists.
"It’s location is fantastic," explained Moulton-Powden. "It’s right down the street from Vermont Teddy Bear Company. It’s across the road from Shelburne Vineyards. It’s next to a small brewery. It’s across the road from Shelburne Museum, so, what a great location to attract tourists. But it’s also near agricultural land where products can be grown. So, the vision that Macy has is really looking at that whole area as an agri-tourism opportunity."
Some non-food related businesses are also moving into Shelburne Green and they are being touted as compatible with the food hub concept. The new tenants will include a producer of solar hot water heaters, a yoga studio and a silk-screened linen company. The Burlington-based furniture maker Vermont Farm Table has expressed interest in renting space but it may decide that the development is too pricey.
Back at the Shelburne Green complex its biggest booster Macy Mulligan points out that the 7,000 square foot courtyard boasts a small waterfall and an edible landscape.
Mulligan offers, "They put in a bunch of blueberries around the building. There’s lavender, there’s hibiscus. there’s mint. There’s a lot of fun edibles. And then you look this way and there’s all these tappable maples, these big old maples."
Maples, she is quick to point out, that could be used to make maple syrup.