VSFA Member Spotlight - Nov. 2019
Fat Toad Farm - VSFA Member Spotlight
With a vision to create a self-sustaining family farm, Fat Toad Farm opened in 2007, “with a handful of dairy goats, a flock of chickens, a couple of pigs and a big garden,” remarks owner Calley Hastings. In the beginning, Fat Toad Farm focused on producing goat milk products including goat cheese, milk and goat’s milk caramel. Hastings shares that they, “saw a unique opportunity with our Goat’s Milk Caramel as virtually no one else was making it in the US. We decided to focus the business on the goats and the caramel and see where we could take it.” Now 12 years later, Fat Toad Farm is the largest producer of goat’s milk caramel in the US. To create and grow a value-added dairy product in Vermont has been an exciting journey for Fat Toad Farm. Today, they purchase goat’s milk for their caramel just down the road at a neighboring farm, Ayer’s Brook Dairy. They are happy to announce that their Original and Cinnamon Caramels have been named finalists for the 2020 Good Food Awards.
While owning your own business can be incredibly challenging, Hastings shares that it can also bring you big rewards. By being involved in your business every day, Hastings says, “You are able to quickly see the results of your work and your creative ideas,” which on its own is a huge reward. What can be challenging is the level of unpredictability. Fat Toad Farm’s approach is to plan for the unpredictable, or at least try. Hastings remarks that, “Rather than being surprised by something going wrong we assume it will happen and are ready to adapt when it does and keep going.”
Having worked in their business for over a decade now, Fat Toad Farm is proud to be staying true to their original founding values. They’ve created a family owned and operated business that continues to source and support local Vermont ingredients. When asked what advice you would give new business owners, Hastings says, “don’t be afraid to learn from others who have gone before you.” She advises that it is worth your time to reach out and create a, “network of other businesses that can help support you along the way. Especially those who can help you navigate growth and the challenges all of us face as we expand.”
Fat Toad Farm finds the most significant benefit of VSFA is the peer to peer networking opportunities. Hastings shares that the Vermont food community is, “INCREDIBLY supportive and helpful. There is always a sense that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’” To be part of a group of people who you can relate to and share information is a valuable benefit to business owners.
For more information on Fat Toad Farm, visit their website at www.fattoadfarm.com.