In February, Berkshire Grown held our 21st Annual Networking Event. This event, which started in 1999 as a Business to Business gathering, brings together local food producers and food buyers for an afternoon of mingling and making connections between buyers and sellers.
This year the event took place at Hancock Shaker Village, a new location that provided a lovely background for a fun and productive gathering. The focus of the event was on institutional buyers, but all kinds of local food purchasers were represented (retail outlets, restaurants, schools, and more). Attendees brought samples of local products like ghee, maple syrup, kombucha, cheese, jams and jellies. Berkshire Grown business met with local food buyers for one-on-one sessions during the first part of the event. After those meetings, Mike Webster, the Dining Director of the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut, gave a brief talk on his success in dramatically increasing the school’s local food purchases while keeping costs level. He brought Kelley Babbin of Howling Flats Farm, one of the many farmers he works with. Mike’s enthusiasm for local food purchasing, along with his encouraging story and solid advice for local farmers and buyers alike, made his talk one of the highlights of the event.
The afternoon concluded with general networking among all attendees, accompanied by the variety of tasty samples on offer. Some Berkshire Grown farmers caught up with friends and colleagues to discuss the start of the main growing season while other producers chatted with buyers and exchanged contact information for future partnerships.
Brigid Dorsey (owner of les collines) crafts small-batch, locally-sourced jelly and preserves. She struggles to convince buyers that her product is not just a breakfast accompaniment, it’s a versatile fine-dining ingredient (with a fair price point to match). At the event, Brigid was able to have an in-depth exchange with a local food retailer who’s already placed an order for her delicious preserves. And Sam Perkins, half of the duo who produce Bug Hill Farm’s delicious shrubs and cordials, appreciates that the event reduces the time he has to spend on sales calls and scheduling buyer meetings. Hannah Jacobson-Hardy of Full Moon Ghee also noted the challenges of finding enough time to connect with buyers, and came away from the event with several new prospects.
We’re thrilled to have hosted another successful networking event, and we look forward to making even more connections happen next year!