Vanilla Bean Project, Lakeland, MN
The vanilla trade is an old business with old ways – it needed a good dusting. Andy and Sara Kubiak decided to mix-it-up, offering a better way forward, focused on people and purpose. When they approached Seven Sundays with this concept a few years back, we were all in.
Local and domestic vanilla bean growers do not exist so Vanilla beans are imported. Since Andy and Sara knew the best vanilla beans made the best extract, they relied on their local farmers market model – go direct for the best. They invested in relationships with progressive vanilla bean growers looking for a partnership and made certain to bring everyone along in the process. Today, VBP buys vanilla beans for our small-batch vanilla extract directly from local grower cooperatives and women-owned businesses in Madagascar just like they buy local vegetables at the farmers market. It is then made by hand in small batches in Lakeland MN.
When the vanilla beans originate from a member-owned cooperative in Madagascar, the full value of our direct-trade purchase is shared by people, families, and communities forming the cooperative.
Thanks, Andy, Sara (and Rosie) for giving me a tour and for the care you put into your craft!