Sidehill Farm - Member Spotlight
Sidehill Farm is owned and operated by Kelt and Kristina Naylor. One of the first specialty food companies in Vermont, Sidehill Farm started in the 1970's when Kelt’s parents Dot and Ben Naylor resurrected old family recipes for artisanal jams and began producing them for friends and family. Kristina reflects on Sidehill Farm’s journey, challenges, and experience.
In our 21 years leading Sidehill, our most rewarding moments have come from choosing a different path. This path is usually more challenging. Ten years ago, we decided to purchase more local underutilized fruit, like hail damaged apples or Quince. Our local farms had no market for these fruits, and it was a good way to help our neighbors. We developed products such as our Apple Butters, which helped our neighbor's profitability, but took a large investment of time and equipment to be profitable for us. Ultimately, this investment paid off in increased sales as farm stands started selling our jam made with their fruit.
Another challenging path choice has been to make jam the old-fashioned way. Our traditional jam recipes use no pectin to thicken our jam. Instead, we concentrate fruit and sugar, which gives our jam more fruit and more fruit flavor in every spoonful. Early on it was tempting to start using pectin as a more profitable method, but over time people have come to appreciate our jams and we have steadily increased our following. In a crowded category like jam, doing things a little differently has paid off in the long run.
Joining VSFA decades ago was an easy path choice as Kelt's father served as VSFA president back in the 1980's. The VSFA was a great support to our fledgling company, but after 45 years we still rely on the VSFA to keep us informed and act as a voice for Vermont food producers. VSFA's crucial role was highlighted this past year with timely and concise emails, webinars, and lobbying. VSFA was not only helpful, they were also a sane voice and ally when we all found ourselves on a more challenging pathway.
Learn more about Sidehill Farm’s products and history by visiting their website: sidehillfarmjam.com