KNOX Farmers

Farm Fresh Food: Local farmers turn entrepreneurs

Overview:

 

Milestones:

  • Local farmers sell fresh produce
  • Individual farmers turn entrepreneur
  • Supply fresh produce to areas around Hartford, CT and beyond

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.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with each farmer and the KNOX Foundation staff. The collaborative effort has exceeded expectations, resulting in a true partnership. The farmer’s energy is truly contagious, each dedicated to doing what it takes to launch and succeed within their community while strengthening their agricultural business network. They took the time to consider their goals, available support, and address the best strategy to meet the needs of their community. They get it done! I look forward to continued collaboration as they grow their businesses in Connecticut.” Mary Kay Della Camera, CTSBDC Microenterprise Advisor.

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.

“The work is going real good. I think there is much to accomplish. Working well together results in making things happen. I am very focused on my business now, more than ever. Thanks again!” Derrick Bedward on his experience with the CTSBDC.

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.

 “Working with Mary Kay has been a wonderful experience. Meeting and working with her has moved me from a concept to an LLC. I look forward to our next meetings. The more of Mary Kay I see, the closer to my goals I am.” Lorenza Christian- about his experience working with the CTSBDC.

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