Merchants with Moxie
Say “Hey Vanessa!” and you’ll see two heads turn toward you. Vanessa Walsten and Vanessa Williamson are the co-founders of Farmented Foods, a local Montana vegetable fermentation company. They met in 2016 in a class at Montana State University.
Little did they know that their class project was going to launch them into a career they could never have imagined.
Vanessa Walsten grew up in Kalispell, Montana and spent her early years romping around the wilds of Montana with her six siblings. Enjoying all the wonderment that this place we call home holds, Vanessa developed an appreciation early on for the land and the resources it provides us.
At age 26, Walsten graduated with a degree in graphic design. While working in the field of graphic design, Walsten enjoyed the work but knew she wanted more. After deciding to enroll in Montana State University’s Sustainable Foods and Bioenergy program, Walsten made the move to Bozeman, MT where she would soon meet Vanessa #2 and combine her two degrees into a passion.
Williamson grew up in Eastern North Dakota with a family Farm not two hours away in Minnesota. Her dad spent many days driving to and from the farm during harvest and planting season with younger Williamson in tow. Although admittedly never that interested in the farming aspects of the farm (she was more interested in the new baby kittens, driving around on the four-wheeler and spending time with grandma), she learned early on the importance of a healthy growing season, how every little thing can affect the yield of a crop, and that farm life is hard work. After many family trips to Montana growing up, Williamson set her sights on Montana State University and was accepted into the Business College where she would earn her Business Marketing Degree in 2017.
In the Fall of 2016, the Vanessa’s both enrolled in an interdisciplinary course called Farm to Market. Soon the two Vanessa’s would realize they were not the only Vanessa in class (a rarity), be paired together for the final project, and after much excitement, countless hours of work and a bit of "screw it” mentality, would decide to launch their idea into a full fledge business.
Over the course of the semester, Walsten and Williamson would work with a partner farmer to develop a value added product out of what they grew. The Vanessa’s wanted to take it one step further and help their farmer solve a problem he, and farmers everywhere face: what to do with the ugly vegetables they can’t traditionally sell? Walsten, an avid fermenter, proposed creating a fermented product. They instead made three: Radish Kimchi, Dill Sauerkraut and Spicy Carrot Chips.
After much market research, product development and a whole lot of support from the MSU and Bozeman community, Farmented Foods was launched and the first jar was sold in December, 2017.
Today, Farmented Foods can be found all across Western Montana in both stores and used in restaurants. Their partner farmers network stretches just as far and is growing. With four products, Farmented Foods is constantly working on developing the next product for their line of locally cultured vegetables. With over 6,000 pounds and counting of imperfect produce saved, Farmented Foods and the Vanessa’s are committed to #savetheveggies one ugly vegetable at a time.
The Red Rooster Kitchen is a full-service commercial kitchen specializing in Homemade Goodness!
We produce 32 varieties of Jams and Jellies as well as Syrups, BBQ sauce, Huckleberry Pie Filling, Fudge and Old-Fashioned Cinnamon Candy.
We do not use artificial coloring or artificial flavoring in our products.
We have very humble beginnings. In 1991 I went into the Restaurant Business. We were in Columbus, Mt. for 16 years 1 month and 3 days. (who is counting) We went from there to a small café in Billings for 5 years.. It was there that we started producing Jams & Jellies. That led to our current location.
We have finally found a HOME that we intend to be at for a very long time. We have currently been in business for 6 years headed for 7 years at the same location. About 3 years ago my son moved home to Montana to become my partner in this awesome business venture. Thank God! (Obviously by now you know that retirement is not in my near future).
Our business just exploded. We began producing for Glacier National Park 3 years ago as well as many other small independent grocers. They are the life blood of our business!!
We are also a full-service bakery baking for 17 coffee shops and a few gift stores. We opened our own store in December of 2020. It is small but suits our needs.
Our primary business is being of service to our outstanding customers!
We take great pride in everything we do and are proud to be a part of St. Regis !
HOMEMADE GOODNESS !
Question: Riza, you were the initial founder of Tumblewood Teas. How did you come to find yourself in the tea business?
Tea has always been a part of my life, from the early years of drinking it from a glass with my Grandpa, then learning to add milk and sugar from my British neighbor, Joan. It’s always been in the back of my mind as something I’d someday turn into career, although I wasn’t sure in what way, exactly.
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed many types of tea, and have gathered a beautiful collection of tea accessories and tins from around the world—now displayed in our office. So, in effect, I have been a student of tea for a very long time. Thankfully, with TUMBLEWOOD, we can now enjoy the finest single origins and blends right here in Montana, and call it a career!
Question: And you, Laurie? What was it about the tea business that drew you in?
Well, my story is quite different from Riza’s. Really, my only experience had been drinking sweet drinks. I had never been introduced to anything that even remotely resembled fine whole leaf brews—they just weren’t available in my area.
Finally, I had the opportunity to drink a high quality, hand-blended loose leaf tea not long before working in this industry. This was my first experience with any fine infusion, and I was hooked after that. I just wanted to learn all I could.
Riza: The funny thing is that, quite frankly, Laurie’s palate and her ability to identify the most complex characteristics, now far surpass my own.
Question:So you are both from different backgrounds. How did you ultimately come together?
Laurie: We’re not sure how we stumbled upon each other, but we had a great friendship first before we started working together. We are so grateful for what we have built. It’s a special thing to work and share a common passion with your best friend.
Riza: As Laurie said, I’m not exactly clear on how it happened but ever so grateful that it did. Tumblewood has blessed us with so many amazing partnerships and has allowed us to make a difference not only right here in Montana, but across the globe.
Our families and friends have supported us in making TUMBLEWOOD TEAS a reality. It’s been a lot of effort and hard work, but we are absolutely in love with this business. We hope to educate and spread the knowledge about our incredible teas on a greater scale, and to continue to support both local producers and our partners from tea estates around the world.
Montana Gluten Free Processors, LLC.
Montana Gluten Free is proud to be Gluten Free from Farm to Fork. What does that mean? Well, it is a short and sweet way of saying that we grow, mill, package and market healthy, gluten free food in carefully monitored fields, with dedicated equipment, and in our certified facility. We care for it from the time the seeds are planted until our products are shipped to your door. This way we can guarantee a high quality, gluten free product that is not only good for you, but also delicious.
Oats are naturally gluten free and have the highest amount of protein and lowest glycemic index of all cereal grains. We selected PrOatina, our private oat variety, for its high protein, height, and hulless qualities. Unlike so many gluten free products on the market that are lacking protein and fiber, our products are as good for you as they are tasty.
Our products test less than 3ppm gluten — well below the FDA standard of 20ppm and the CSA (Celiac Support Association) standard of 5ppm required to be considered gluten free. We are able to meet this exceptional standard by strictly adhering to our quality control policies.
Our oats are only grown in fields that have not contained gluten grains for four years, then each field is walked and hand-rouged twice — once by the farmer and again by a Montana Gluten Free representative.
At the end of the growing season, we use dedicated gluten free farm equipment to harvest and transport the oats to our certified gluten free facility where they are milled, packaged, and stored. Our manufacturing facility is certified by CSA and GIG. Our products test null on both ELISA G12 and R5 tests when tested in-house and in third party analysis by Romer Labs.
Montana Gluten Free has been NCA (formally CSA) certified since 2004 and GIG certified since 2007. We are Kosher, and our products contain no GMO.
Our facility is free of the top 8 allergens plus corn. Which means that our products do not contain wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish or corn.
Montana Gluten Free products DO NOT use any oats that have been sprayed with any form of glyphosate. Montana Gluten Free oats are a unique variety, grown under direct grower contract, not purchased on the open market. We control every part of the production of our oats from seeding to packaging, following our “Gluten Free Oat Purity Protocol,” and require farmers use land with proper crop rotation practices as well as fertility, cultural practices, and product quality. We test every lot for glyphosate residue, both in house and with an outside lab. Montana Gluten Free will continue our commitment to provide high quality, safe products for our customers.
For over 30 years, King’s Cupboard has proudly been a local manufacturer and wholesale distributor of delicious dessert products. We make our sauces with only pure, clean ingredients.
Our innovative product development, as well as our relentless quest for exceptional cacao ingredients, has led to fourteen NASFT SOFI Outstanding Product Awards.
Our mission includes a commitment to our co-workers and nurturing the community in which we live.
Our processing facility overlooks the spectacular Beartooth Mountains – a constant reminder that we need to lessen our environmental impact. We source local agricultural ingredients to support regional growers and decrease transport distances when possible.
We have a recycling program and have supported efforts to launch a comprehensive countywide recycling program.
Heat from our processing equipment is captured and used to warm our warehouse in the winter months and in the summer months, cooler outside evening air is brought in to control our building temperature – both of which substantially reduce our carbon footprint.
King’s Cupboard has several certified organic dessert sauces and all of our products are OU Kosher.
We started the business over 18 years ago with a few products and a big dream. The recipes were created through providing guests at our Ranch wholesome, tasty, nutritious meals - both in the dining room and on the trail - during pack trips into the wilderness, and for cattle and horse drives!
Since then, we’ve created hundreds of products, won awards for our Deep-Pit Seasoning and Indian Fry Bread, and continue to develop meaningful and tasty new items for our customers.