Adam Thatcher was working as operations manager at Grace Farms, which had just opened five years ago, when he noticed something unexpected coming out of his popular restaurant service.
Visitors from across the country who had had a cup of coffee in the “commons” section of the Grace Farms River Building began phoning the organization to say they liked the brew and wanted to buy some. . The coffee itself – grown on women-owned and fair-trade farms, according to Grace Farms CEO and founder Sharon Prince, and courtesy of townsman and Grace supporter Joe Apuzzo, who owns coffee roasting and importing businesses – was called “Heavenly Roast” at the time. His beans were available for sale, but on a limited basis.
In the spring of 2019, Thatcher — who before Grace Farms had opened restaurants at ski resorts in Lake Tahoe, California and is currently working on an MBA at New York University Stern School of Business — began researching Newman’s Own. Foundation, based in Westport, where profits from food products are returned to the organization for charitable purposes.
He collaborated with Prince on how they could do something similar for the Grace Farms Foundation, and together they pitched their idea to the organization’s board.
On Friday, Thatcher and Prince reveal to the public Grace Farms Foods, a new company they co-founded that is 100% owned by the Grace Farms Foundation.
“Heavenly Roast”, renamed “River Roast” after the winding building that forms the backbone of Grace Farms, is one of three new coffees from women-run cooperatives in Ethiopia, Indonesia and Colombia that form the “drop by drop” of the new society. ”-branded coffee offers.
Grace Farms Foods also offers savory chocolate chip cookies “chips” (including a gluten-free version), the recipe for which was created by the Grace team in conjunction with a New Canaan resident Silvia Baldini, the Italian-born celebrity chef who won The Food Network’s “Chopped” show. And they feature a series of branded herbal tea “sips,” developed as a group by Grace Farms visitor engagement director Frank Kwei, who is also a “tea master,” Thatcher said, and has owned several companies. of tea in his career.
“Grace Farms has always intended to foster the community and Grace Farms Foods is now becoming an opportunity for everyone to participate by contributing to the gift that is Grace Farms,” said Thatcher.
The company is offering a free “trial package” through Feb. 15 for those who sign up through Grace Farms Foods website, and Thatcher said he expects the first month of deliveries to begin in late March. Food products are currently available exclusively on the company’s site, although Grace Farms Foods plans to move into New Canaan Farmers Market this summer and one of its goals is to sell in physical stores. Pricing has not been finalized, although “our goal is to remain a premium brand while being accessible,” Thatcher said.
All proceeds from Grace Farms Food will be donated to support the foundation, which “supports nature, arts, justice, community and faith initiatives, and encourages local and global participation” , according to his mission.
Prince noted that coffee, tea and cookies rank among the most popular items Grace Farms has always offered on-site, and said she was thrilled as the organization’s founder that the idea of the new society came from within.
“The work of Grace Farms can be demonstrated through Grace Farms Food products,” she said. NewCanaanite.com.
The new company “provides an opportunity to demonstrate what we stand for,” Prince added. “Ethically produced products, an ethical and sustainable supply chain and the promotion of social equity.”
She also noted that its launch is timely, in that it “has depth and will be joy around the table” for people who remain largely locked down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Grace Farms itself, although it closed to the public of its own volition on March 9, has never stopped operating. In addition to securing life-saving PPE masks during the first weeks of the public health emergency, partnered with then-Director of Emergency Management Mike Handler and New Canaan Fire Company No. 1 to distribute masks to area hospitals in need, Grace Farms has used its catering facilities to create more than 75,000 meals benefiting a dozen organizations, including Staying Put in New Canaan, Person-To-Person and the Domestic Violence Crisis Center.
When asked how he felt on the eve of Grace Farms Food launching to the public, Thatcher said: “I’m thrilled and satisfied to see an idea come to fruition. It really took five years of preparation.
“We had three priorities that we focused on when deciding which categories we were going to enter,” he added. “The first is that you have to take inspiration from the place. It should also give us the opportunity to demonstrate an ethical supply chain. And it should also be an opportunity to reach as many people as possible.