|Producer of the Month: True North Granola|
By Jon Megas-Russell
A s Bronwyn and I walked into the Cotton Mill the smell of freshly baked granola was absolutely intoxicating.We both wanted to stick our tongues out and lick the air because it was such a sweet and delicious aroma.It was quite a wonderful way to start our tour with True North Granola, a granola company that has been in business for 10+ years and is beginning to build a strong northeast regional brand and following.They started at the Brattleboro Farmers Market back in 2006 and then sold wholesale first to us here at the Co-op.True North has emerged as one of our most popular granolas and we are delighted to highlight them this month in Food for Thought.
Ingrid and Franklin Chrisco shared that it all began 40 years ago when they lived in Alaska and began to test their own recipes of granola.After their time teaching there they headed back to New England, specifically Brattleboro, to continue their career in education. Both were teachers and Ingrid was also a middle school principal for many years.Eventually, they began to dabble in their granola recipes again, spending their evenings and weekends building True North Granola.Their love and passion for granola has blossomed over the past 10 years and it is impressive to note this was all done while they were so committed to serving children in our community through the local education system.
You can taste the perfection each time you enjoy their granola. Immediately upon entering their facility, it was apparent they have built an impeccable process to support their recipes. All of their recipes have taken many hours and years of testing and tweaking to get to the perfection they have today. Ingrid mentioned that their recipes often take a year to solidify and it shows in the texture, flavor and quality. As we continued our conversation Ingrid and Franklin were smiling ear to ear while talking about their team. They credit their growth and success to their multiple bakers and shop assistants, two designers and a social media expert. With Franklin running the shop operations, logistics, deliveries and managing the team at the Cotton Mill and Ingrid mostly at the home office running their finances, accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, and their designers, it is quite a complete team with an excellent entrepreneurial spirit. When speaking of their packaging they are proud that they have had a long and fruitful partnership with Chris and Carol at Rock River Design in South Newfane who have assisted with Ingrid’s creative direction in the evolution of the names, color schemes and design. Recently, True North has formed a strong partnership with Hidden Springs Maple, as each VT-based company supports the other through purchases of syrup and granola and co-marketing. Through this partnership, True North is confident that only Vermont-based syrup is used in their products. Hidden Springs is also a strong seller at our Co-op.
At the shop their whole team demonstrates a keen attention to detail, care and documentation, which allows each batch to be consistent, delicious, and deliver a granola that meets the needs of many lifestyles and diets. Eight of the seventeen unique varieties are gluten free, and they take particular care to not cross-contaminate those with their regular granolas. This ensures that people with allergies can still enjoy this delicious granola confidently and safely. In addition to gluten free granola they also offer grain free, vegan and regular granolas. They shared that the FDA visited in the past year and spent many hours in their facility and testing numerous batches of granola offsite; they passed the inspection and testing with flying colors. This is a huge testament to the quality of their product and the trustworthiness of their allergen labeling.
Sourcing is of the utmost importance to True North Granola and they buy local and organic ingredients whenever possible and only use raw unprocessed ingredients in every product they make. They do not use additives, chemicals or
True North Granola is sold regionally across New England and New York mainly at Co-ops, natural foods stores and five farmer’s markets in Brattleboro, Manchester, VT; Northampton and Westborough, MA; South End market in Boston; and Harlow’s VT Farm Stand in the Boston Public Market in the Haymarket District of Boston. There is even a boutique hotel in New York which exclusively offers True North granola! A large financial firm with 5 offices in the mid-Atlantic region of our country serves a free breakfast of True North granola to their employees daily. When asked about their go-to granola flavors, they both were quite excited about their original granola, Go NUTS. They also stated that Nutty No Grainer and Granola Blues are two of their top sellers. Maple Vanilla is quite popular as well and they even produce a Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Mix – which I can state from personal experience is delicious! Franklin advised that the Nutty No Grainer goes great on a salad.
When we talked about dreams, goals and aspirations for the business Ingrid and Franklin had a few. The first would be to grow a stronger regional brand and following so that they could create more local jobs. In essence they value the local economy and the importance of good paying jobs and supporting families in our region.
They mentioned one of their two sons lives and works in Turkey (near the Syrian border), in economic development for the region. They love the work he does there, but hope one day he comes home to take over the business. They also hope he can bring along Syrian refugees who could live in Brattleboro and be trained to work for True North granola as the business continues to grow. Of all the questions I asked, Ingrid and Franklin were most proud to share this goal. It shows their authenticity and spirit of helping others and I was truly moved. It will be a blast to watch True North grow and prosper and hopefully fulfill their dreams.
Come visit Ingrid & Franklin of True North Granola on Friday, August 5th from 11am - 1pm and Friday, Aug. 26th from 4pm - 6pm!