Soy entrepreneurs open plant in Hardwick
HARDWICK – Todd Pinkham and Andrew Meyer of Vermont Soy are launching a new line of organic soy products here to expand farming opportunities in the Northeast Kingdom.
This fall Vermont Soy plans to start production of soymilk, tofu and tempeh using locally grown, organic soybeans. But manufacturing the foods is just the beginning. Pinkham and Meyer are also actively soliciting local farmers to cultivate soybeans as part of the project.
Vermont Soy, an organic tempeh-production company founded by Pinkham in 1996, has recently built a production facility in the Hardwick Industrial Park and is now installing processing equipment, finalizing recipes and finishing the packaging material designs. The soy processing and packaging would all take place at the plant.
"This isn't about us, it is about agriculture," Meyer said on Friday. "It is about Vermont. Our goal is to create a sustainable company successful in northeastern Vermont."
Meyer, 35, grew up on his family's dairy farm in Hardwick, and then studied agriculture at the University of Vermont. He later served in Washington, D.C., as an adviser to Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., on agriculture issues before starting his own consulting firm. He recently returned to Hardwick to help his brothers run the farm and expand the Vermont Soy Co. with Pinkham, a 38-year-old Massachusetts native who majored in environmental studies at Johnson State College.
Pinkham and Meyer hope to create a market for locally grown soybeans and encourage area farmers to stay in agriculture.
The company will announce the results of soybean seed trials this week at the High Mowing Seeds research fields in Wolcott. There, Vermont Soy has experimented with nine different strains of soybeans to determine which variety is best suited for production in northern Vermont.
"It is important to establish which grows best in this climate," Meyer said. "We are going to be part of a field day on the 20th for evaluation if growers are interested, then present to farmers the issues of storing, harvesting and technical assistance."
Pinkham founded Vermont Soy in 1996 with a line of tempeh he sold to health food outlets. Customers responded enthusiastically to the product and asked for a broader line of organic soy products, including soymilk and tofu, he said.
"We're going to demonstrate (that other, larger soy companies) are nothing more than a ton of marketing money," Pinkham said.
Pinkham and Meyer have been working with research and development experts from the University of Vermont to fine-tune recipes and production plans.
"This is a great product," Meyer said. "It is all about Vermont; it is all about sustainability; it is all about health."
Vermont Soy will officially launch its line of fresh organic soy milk products in November.
For more information or directions to the soybean field trials, go to www.vermontsoy.com.MORE IN NewsPORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Sen. Full Story
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