In Lewis County, NY approximately 200 family-owned farms form the backbone of their strong rural economy, sustainable regional food system, and the area’s rich agricultural heritage. Spotlight on Business Magazine had the opportunity to sit down with James Munn and his wife Bethany to learn how Black River Valley Natural has made it their mission to bring that all together by offering customers premium quality locally sourced dairy products that are produced in an environmentally friendly dairy processing facility. Munn tells Spotlight on Business how he and his wife are proud to be supporting and promoting the local agricultural heritage and legacy of our Lewis County family farms with a small-batch artisanal creamery that hopes to be a regional food hub when it grows up.
Valley Natural Promoting rural New York’s agricultural heritage
By Jordan Parker J amesMunn and his wifeBethany startedBlack River Valley Natural with their hometown in mind. Both working corporate jobs, the two were worn out and missing their family by October 2017. Long hours were constantly keeping them away. “When we’d go home for Christmas or what have you, we’d talk about Lewis County (a rural county in upstate New York), and how economically depressed things were. We wished we could do something for where we were from,” said Munn. “We started a dialogue with people in county government about investing or helping a start-up. We thought we could help on that side, and the county economic development office came back with value-added dairy products.” The discussion continued, an advisory board was formed, and the two began a business plan. As their corporate work became more hectic, they were hiring people to watch their kids and moving further from the life they wanted. “The question came as to why we didn’t just run this ourselves, and we decided we needed a
JUNE 2019 • SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE
SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JUNE 2019 SPOTLIGHT ON BUSINESS MAGAZINE • JUNE 2019
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