Aug. 19, 2010By Greg Duggan Observer staff
Freshly baked goods — pies, muffins, cookies — sat on the counters of Lori Marino’s kitchen last Thursday, but the mother of four wasn’t just prepping a hefty helping of sweets for her family. She was baking for a variety of customers.
It was a typical day for Marino, who’s Sweet Harmony Home Bakery joined the Vermont Fresh Network last month. Marino founded the company last year out of her home on Harte Circle, where she still operates the business.
Though she initially began selling her goods at the Williston Farmers’ Market, Marino soon transitioned to baking primarily for restaurants, including Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza in Williston, Uncommon Grounds in Burlington and the Shelburne Meat Market. She also takes private orders.
By joining the Vermont Fresh Network, Marino pledges to work directly with at least three Vermont farms or food producers.
A press release from the network said, “VFN is the nation’s oldest statewide farm-chef partnership organization; it encourages farmers, food producers and chefs to work directly with each other to build partnerships in order to strengthen local communities.”
“It went along with the premise of my bakery,” Marino said, referring to the network’s emphasis on local and organic products.
Meghan Sheradin, executive director of the Vermont Fresh Network, emphasized the organization’s ability to foster relationships between chefs and farmers.
“It bridges the gap between the culinary world and agricultural production,” Sheradin said, explaining that the organization looks to create partnerships that effectively distribute local food from farms to chefs.
With more than 400 partner members — farmers, chefs and food producers — the network provides ample opportunity to share ideas.
Sheradin called it “the kind of feedback loop that no how-to list is going to give you.”
As a new member, Marino said she hasn’t taken advantage of networking opportunities yet. But she uses as many local products as possible. Sheradin said Sweet Harmony Home Bakery lists its partners in the Vermont Food Network as Ridgeview Farm in Fairfield, Adams Berry Farm in Burlington and Shelburne Orchards. Marino said she typically uses flour from King Arthur Flour, butter from Cabot and eggs from Shadow Cross Farm.
Marino picks her ingredients based on the season. She uses fruit in the summer — blueberry pies had just come out of the oven last Thursday — and makes pumpkin and pecan pies around Thanksgiving. Other offerings include apple pie, peach pie, cheesecakes and regular cakes.
Growing up in Shelburne, Marino’s mother ran a home bakery. Furthermore, her grandparents ran a dairy farm in Fairfield that also produced maple syrup, and she realized the amount of work that goes into running a farm.
So despite having a degree in music and a background as a singer, Marino’s experiences as a youth helped her when launching Sweet Harmony Home Bakery and joining the Vermont Fresh Network.
“I’ve had no formal training as of yet, other than growing up with it,” she said.
The idea to launch her own home bakery stemmed from a desire to work near her family.
“I decided to try it, and it took off,” Marino said.
Though she said the thought of expansion has crossed her mind, Marino expects to keep operating out of her kitchen for the time being.
Sweet Harmony Home Bakery can be reached at 876-7876 or at email@example.com.