VSFA Member Spotlight - March 2020
Baird Farm - VSFA Member Spotlight
Baird Farm is a four-generation owned family farm located in Chittenden, Vermont. Today, Bonnie and Robert Baird own and operate their 560-acre farm while their daughter Jenna and her partner Jacob run the maple syrup retail business. In 1918 Jenna’s grandparents began farming the property, milking cows and making butter while producing maple syrup on the side. They sold their milk and butter door-to-door in Rutland at first, but as milk production grew, they expanded their market to sell into Boston and later to the local Cabot cheese plant. In 1996 they decided to sell the herd, refocusing on maple syrup as their primary crop.
Jenna and Jacob began managing the retail maple business in 2016 to expand sales and product offerings. They have developed and introduced several infused syrups as well as other value-added products including maple sugar and maple ketchup. They also renovated the Baird Farm sugarhouse for agritourism, and now invite visitors for interactive maple tours. Jenna says that these face-to-face interactions are the most rewarding aspect of business ownership. She remarks that, “It’s really uplifting to hear stories of folks who have supported the farm and hearing how much joy maple brings to them.”
Running a farm, managing and expanding retail production, sales, and a tourism business is a lot to navigate. Jenna says, “We’ve got a lot of pans in a lot of fires,” and “sometimes it can pull you in 5 different directions and spread us pretty thin.” Managing responsibilities within three growing businesses can be a challenge, but to keep momentum going and moving in the right direction Jenna says they use lists, scheduling, and coffee sweetened with maple. Their longtime customers also keep them going. Jenna says that, “We hear from customers all the time who reflect on how much the business has evolved over the years. Those stories really fuel us to strive for even higher aspirations here.”
“Authentic marketing is powerful,” shares Jenna when asked what advice she would give new business owners. She says they could easily hold tours full of flannel, horses, and buckets, but instead they, “tell customers a story of modern sugaring- tubing, osmosis, and climate change.” Jenna continues saying that, “We’ve learned that it pays off to lean into authenticity. That’s why there’s tubing on our newly designed labels. When you tell a real story to your customers stronger connections are built!”
Baird Farm first learned about the Vermont Specialty Food Association through their neighbor Will Gormly, owner of Mountain Cider Company who spoke highly of the value of the VSFA community. Jenna shares that is has been a great community to be involved with adding that, “we’ve gained a lot knowledge from attending the annual meetings from marketing tools, to networking, and overall support for a small business.”
For more information on Baird Farm, visit their website at www.bairdfarm.com.