Next week, tomato sauce, salsa, granola and other products made by a Schoharie County company and containing ingredients grown by small farms in the Catskills and across the country will debut at mega-supermarket Target stores nationwide.
Beekman 1802, the Sharon Springs food and lifestyle business founded by local-farm advocates and growing media celebrities Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge, signed a deal to produce the “Beekman 1802 Farm Pantry” line exclusively for Target this spring. The arrangement signals a significant shift in large retailers’ approach to their supply chain, and is good news for small farmers like Sharon Springs’ Weathertop Farm, where farmer Kate Miller grew 300 pounds of basil for a bottled braising sauce.
“Regardless of how much small-farm-produced materials actually end up in the jar (or bottle, or packet, or bag), the idea of creating a line of easily-found, pre-packaged goods made as much as possible with high-quality, small-producer ingredients is a totally worthy and innovative one,” Modern Farmer magazine wrote this month.
The product line grew from a successful run with just one product Target marketed, Beekman 1802’s “Mortgage Lifter” tomato sauce, from which 25 percent of profits go to farmers.
“Full disclosure: we had no freakin’ idea how we were going to pull this one off. We had seven months to crack a problem that giant food manufacturers and global retailers have been struggling to figure out for decades: how to get small farms represented on national grocery shelves,” the partners said on their blog when the deal was announced. “But when opportunity comes knocking on our barn door, we shovel away the goat poop and answer it.”
In total, 48 Beekman products will be stocked in more than 1,700 stores in a nationwide rollout from November to January, with a percentage of the profits going directly to benefit small farms under the Mortgage Lifter model.