Founders Steve Birge and Mark Curran met on the ski slopes of Vermont in the late 1970s. The two forged the idea for a new business that would fill a big gap in the local market—they would supply the area with quality, fresh fruits and vegetables. They started Black River Produce with $600 between them and a used VW bus with the slogan “Give Peas a Chance” painted on the side.
Mark and Steve took turns driving the van to the Boston wholesale market for fresh produce for their retail store and made stops at southern Vermont farms on the way. To help fill their van at the produce market, they contacted a few local restaurants for orders. Local chefs spread the word and within a year, Steve and Mark were supplying more than 30 restaurants.
In 1996, the business expanded to include fresh and frozen seafood as well as cut flowers. Nine years later, to accommodate the company’s growing product line, operations moved to the company’s current 65,000-square foot facility in North Springfield, Vermont.
In 2014, the company expanded to a 50,000 square foot slaughterhouse and processing plant to serve the growing market for Vermont-raised meat.
Today, Black River Produce has more than 3,000 wholesale customers, including stores, schools, restaurants, clubs, camps, ski areas, hospitals, nursing homes and farm stands throughout Vermont, most of New Hampshire, and parts of New York and Massachusetts. The old VW bus has evolved into a fleet of over 50 refrigerated trucks but our initial passion for delivering fresh food straight from the farms and vendors we serve remains.