We’ll admit it — we’ve been associated with granola from time to time! So I find it only fitting that several of our Local Producer Loan Program recipients produce this iconic health food. After all, it’s as yummy today as it was when we opened 30 years ago — maybe even more so! Like granola, our support for local producers has been around since the beginning. That’s why we started the Local Producer Loan Program, which has provided almost $4 million in low-interest loans to small, local producers. We’re proud to be helping them grow their businesses and bring more products like these great granolas to market.
Michele’s Granola Owner: Michele Thornett Timonium, Maryland
In early 2006, Michele took the first dozen bags of her granola to sell at a local farmers market. It quickly gained followers, and within 18 months, she had moved production into a commercial kitchen where she began baking for local food co-ops and natural food stores. Although Michele’s Granola products are now available in almost 100 retail stores, the granola is still made by hand in small batches. Michele recently moved production to a larger commercial kitchen, and she used her loan to purchase equipment and build out the space. Michele’s products are currently available in our stores in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Pure Bliss Organics Owners: Jon and Karen Morgan, Antonio and Krishna DaCosta Marietta, Georgia
Jon, Antonio and Krishna have been involved with natural foods for most of their adult lives. In fact, they met when Jon visited the Higher Taste, Antonio’s vegetarian restaurant in Tallahassee. Upon moving to Georgia, the two couples purchased local granola company Shooka’s, converted it to organic production, and changed the name to Pure Bliss Organics. They also expanded the product line beyond granola, incorporating nuts, whole food bars and energy bites. They are using their Local Producer Loan funds to purchase packaging and packaging equipment. Pure Bliss Organics products are currently available in our stores throughout the South region.
Laughing Giraffe Organics Owner: Justin Baumgartner Phoenix, Arizona
One of our first loan recipients, Laughing Giraffe Organics is a wonderful example of what the LPLP can do for a small business. Since receiving his funds, Justin has expanded his line of raw, vegan, gluten-free granola, first from a few stores, next to our entire Southern Pacific region, and then into nine (!) regions (hundreds of stores!), with an organic certification thrown in there for good measure! We are so proud of Justin’s success and are excited about his new packaging. Laughing Giraffe Organics is available in stores in all of our regions except Mid-Atlantic, South, and the UK (for now!).
Have you tried any of these granolas? Let us know what you think!