Throughout the year New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility collects "Just One Thing" stories of sustainability initiatives from across the state, in the areas of community, environment and workplace. These leading efforts are then showcased as part of NHBSR's Sustainability Slam in the fall. Last year Genuine Local won NHBSR's 2018 Sustainability Slam for its invaluable contributions to New Hampshire communities.
(Photo Credits: Genuine Local)
Mary Macdonald, Co-owner and Co-founder of Genuine Local in Meredith, NH, candidly describes the company as a "hobby gone wrong." What started in 2006 as a family-based barbeque competition team quickly took on a life of its own. Mary and her husband Gavin were soon venturing into catering and then began selling their popular barbeque sauces. To meet increasing demand, the Macdonalds turned to a kitchen in Keene to commercially produce and sell their sauces. In August 2015, however, the Macdonalds were given five-weeks' notice that the kitchen was going to close. So, in October of that year, they leased an empty warehouse and started building their own kitchen, which they opened just a few months later. This space became home to Genuine Local, NH's only specialty food production accelerator.
As a food production accelerator, Genuine Local provides access to the space, equipment, labeling, packaging, production assistance, and business development services to help small food businesses grow. In fact, with the vast array of services and equipment Genuine Local offers, anyone can come to their makerspace with a food product they want to create and sell or even just ingredients to turn into a marketable product. Genuine Local's central tenant is that making and selling good, clean food should be easy and accessible to anyone. By aggregating purchases, printing labels in-house and packaging products, and advising businesses on everything from recipe development to effective pricing to food processing regulations, Genuine Local makes producing small batch specialty foods a viable option for local businesses.
Genuine Local's winning Just One Thing story at NHBSR's Sustainability Slam centered on the company's Value Added Program. This program underwrites 5% of the cost for local farmers to use Genuine Local's facility and services. These farmers have crop surpluses that, without the facilities and knowledge Genuine Local provides, might otherwise go to the landfill. By partnering with Genuine Local, these farmers are able to not only divert food waste form the landfill, but to also extend the lifespan of their crops into preserved or frozen foods, adding another source of diversified income. Last year over 20 farms were involved in the Value Added Program and as of this past fall Genuine Local processed over 15 ton of fruits and vegetables. "We believe in paying it forward," Mary states, "In our name, Genuine speaks to authenticity, the natural and the clean, while Local reflects our desire to support local businesses and have an impact on our community."
At NHBSR's Sustainably Slam, you can learn more about Genuine Local's Value Added Program and other inspiring sustainability initiatives throughout the state. "I would describe the Slam as a very dynamic glimpse into the good unknown." Mary enthuses, "It's all good. So many people are doing so many things that nobody knows about. It runs the gamut in terms of so many different stories and presentations, that it's hard to even begin to categorize!"
Connect with Mary at our Sustainability Slam on Nov 7 at Labelle Winery in Amherst, NH! Any company or nonprofit in New Hampshire is welcomed to attend the Sustainability Slam and submit a Just One Thing story at nhbsr.org/jot. Top submissions will be featured in the NH Business Review and presented at the Slam. This year's Sustainability Slam presenting sponsor is Velcro.
**Stories submitted by August 21 get entered into a drawing for free Sustainability Slam tickets and those submitted by August 14 get entered in twice!
Watch Genuine Local's winning Just One Thing story video here.
Submit your Just One Thing story here.