“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

I’m writing this on the day after voters in Massachusetts elected Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate, ending the 60-vote coalition of Democrats.  Exactly one year ago on this day, our country celebrated the inauguration of President Obama.  Broadly speaking of the American cultural landscape, it feels like we’re swinging on a pendulum:  Do we want change or not?

While the pundits debate and the pollsters tally, here’s a reminder about our committed citizens.  Seth Wolcott-MacCausland, owner of Pumpkin Village Foods, is one of them.  He’s a man in a van with a plan to connect Vermont farmers to the New York City market.  I caught up with him as he made a delivery to the Bedford Cheese Shop in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.

At the Corner of Bedford & Immensely Wonderful

Seth Prepares Green Wind Farm Maple Syrup for Retail Sale

Before he was a man in a van, Seth was a guy at the door.  He started his growing business, Pumpkin Village Foods, in March of 2007 by knocking on doors and introducing his artisanal Vermont products to shop owners in New York.  In the beginning, it was slow going, but with persistent legwork, he has doubled his company’s revenues since the first year.  Now in his monthly road trip, he distributes the carefully-crafted wares of nine different Vermont producers to about twenty stores in the city.  The products include maple syrup and candy, honey, pepper sauces, apple cider, French-style nougat, and tomato marinara sauce, among others.  His network of vendors continues to expand and new products are added regularly.

“All of these producers use the best ingredients.  Now they want a selling partnership and they’re looking to come to New York,” explained Seth, “I feel so lucky to be a part of this connection between conscientious producers and consumers.  The shifting public consciousness with regard to food sourcing is wonderful and motivating.”

Vermont Specialties Awaiting Their Shelf Moment

With this momentum underway, Seth anticipates that his distribution trips will increase by fifty percent in 2010.  By the fall of this year, he’s planning to deliver every two weeks, in order to expand his line of perishable products available at the bigger stores, such as Eli’s in Manhattan.

What kind of retail food buyer receives Seth in NYC?  In the words of Charlotte Kamin, the buyer for the Bedford Cheese Shop, “In our store, we want the least amount of processing involved in the production of the products.  Everything has a story and it gives a face and a name behind the food.”

Now as we change the American food system, let us never doubt a story like this.

Seth Wolcott-MacCausland in Wiliamsburg

The Delivery Dashboard in Williamsburg: Photo by Seth