Pamela Dunn started her own business in one of the worst economic downturns since the Great Depression. She couldn’t be happier about it.
“You have these little moments when you feel like a rock star,” said Dunn, founder of Boxed Goodes, a natural goods business focused on whole grains, rice, beans and spices. Dunn’s business launched last April. Since then, she has seen an increasing number of customers who are interested in how to cook with natural foods. A growing number of consumers are consciously stepping away from foods with artificial ingredients.
Dunn started out as a chef in residence in Litchfield. Because she used whole foods in her cooking, it seemed only natural to jump into this market. “I built the business to compliment the local, seasonal foods in my recipes,” she said.
And how local is her food? Everything she uses for her food demonstrations at local farmer’s markets comes directly from her CSA at Wild Carrot Farm. Deb Parker, the Store Manager at the farm, said her products have been flying off the shelves since they opened for the season in April. “We have lots of customers who don’t know what to do with the produce we sell. They’ve never tried it before,” she said. “But they use one of Pamela’s recipes and her ingredients and it’s a good tie in with the produce. “
One of the more popular recipes uses black beluga lentils in a tabouleh style. Another one is the Red, Hot or Cold, which not surprisingly can be eaten hot or cold. “A lot of people are trying to eat healthier,” said Parker. “Some of her spice blends are salt-free. She’s really getting a lot of good feedback.”
But more than just an interest in eating foods locally grown, Dunn and her family have a history of celiac disease. Along with some other food allergies, eating healthy was a necessity. She has been pleasantly surprised to find that she is not alone and that a number of her customers have the same issues.
The company has also started offering their products as gift items. Not only have they done well at the markets, but the products are also flying off the shelves at Christmas fairs. “Lots of people tell me they make great stocking stuffers,” she said. “That’s when I say ‘beans are the new coal’!”
Dunn’s husband, Steve, has also had a big hand in making the company grow. Working a 60-hour week in IT for Traveler’s Insurance, he comes home and helps his wife. From carting boxes to printing out labels, she said he has been very supportive of the business. “Although I will tell you, he’s not very good at housekeeping,” she said with a laugh as the youngest of her three children requested a smoothie.
Dunn also plans to have printed recipe cards available next month. She will be traveling around the state to promote them. She likes staying local. “We’re as Mom and Pop as you get!”
So the next time you’re looking for something a little different, check out Boxed Goodes at your nearest farmer’s market. On Thursdays, they are at the Simsbury farmer’s market. On Saturdays, they can be found at the Norfolk and Litchfield farmer’s markets. On Sundays, they are at the Collinsville market. Check their web site for details.
Pamela Dunn's recipe for My Coronas
3/4 C uncooked Sweet White Runner beans
2T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 C chopped green onion
1/4 C flat leaf parsley
1-2 t minced fresh thyme
1-2 t chopped fresh rosemary
1 t salt or salt to taste
Soak beans overnight. Boil or pressure cook the beans until tender. Marinate in lemon, olive oil, green onion, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and salt. Refrigerate. Just before serving, gently toss with fresh arugula. To intensify the bite of the arugula, add freshly ground pepper. Not for the faint of palate!