Farm Fresh Food: Local farmers turn entrepreneurs
KNOX Inc. is a not-for-profit organization in Hartford CT which was started in 1966 as an urban greening initiative. They conduct several programs including Community Gardening, Blooms Planters, workforce training etc. KNOX has been providing support to individuals interested in pursuing a career in farming under the Incubator program, with an aim of providing fresh produce to farm markets, individual residents, and Public Schools within the city of Hartford. These farmers have launched or are in the process of launching their own small businesses under the umbrella of the Incubator program. Currently, Derrick Bedward’s Red, Gold & Green, LLC and Lorenza Christian Jr.’s CT Collards, LLC are up and functioning. Emmanuel Marte’s Micro2Life, LLC is set to launch soon.
CTSBDC’s Mary Kay Della Camera was approached by Knox Board Member Adam Ney of CBIA and Chelsea Morrison, Farm and Grounds Manager at KNOX in the spring of 2018. Since then, Mary Kay has been working with the farmers to help them come up with a business model for their respective ventures, getting their businesses up and going with the registration process, and creating more sustainable business models going forth.
Both Derrick and Lorenza’s businesses focus on supplying healthy, leafy greens including collards, kale, spinach, peppers, watermelon, tomatoes, peppers, and unique novelty fruits and vegetables such as Hula Berries. All of these products are grown in-house, and are organic. These farmers are passionate about food and farming, and take pride in their home-grown produce.
In the near future, the farmers are looking to expand the range of their products to include signature hot sauces and condiments, increase sales by reaching out to restaurants and farmers’ markets, and to expand their business digitally through an online sales channel.