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History

Learn how two ski bums went from selling produce out of a van to leading New England’s premier regional food supplier.

  • Founded in Ludlow, VT in 1978 by Steve Birge and Mark Curran to supply quality, fresh fruits and vegetables to local restaurants

  • Moved to 65,000-square foot facility in North Springfield, VT in 2005 to accommodate our expanding product line, including seafood and florals.

  • Transformed an abandoned Ben & Jerry’s plant into a state-of-the-art 50,000 square foot meat processing facility providing market opportunities for Vermont farmers in 2014

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. 

Black River supports local agriculture in many ways.  Perhaps the most important is that they pay a good price for quality.  They also understand that raising animals can be a challenge and that farmers often have to deal with unexpected issues. Black River has always been supportive and flexible.  I always feel that we are part of a team striving to bring the best possible product to the consumer.
Settlement Farm