By Victoria Gaither
QUECHEE — The lights are back on at the former Singleton’s General Store in Quechee.
Global Village Foods, which now operates in the space, has been busy turning the inside into a food manufacturing facility for months, with still more work to finish before opening.
“This new location is important, and we’re excited about it because it represents such an exciting stage of growth for our company,” said Wangene Hall, Global Village’s director of marketing.
The new facility will produce samosas and allergy-friendly, African-inspired meals to sell in stores across Vermont and New England.
Hall explained, “We’re now at a place where customer demand is surging, and this new location will allow us to meet that demand and be able to meet significant growth over time.”
The facility will also serve as the company’s home base.
It’s exciting to Wangene Hall because she is looking forward to hosting community events in her role as director of marketing. She said, “We want a place where people can really see our vision in action: all the inspiration, flavor, and bold ingredients that go into making African food for everyone.”
Currently, Global Village’s frozen dishes like Ethiopian Vegan Lentil Combo, Moroccan Lemon Chicken & Olives, and African No Nut Stew sell at Whole Foods in the frozen food aisle.
Many co-ops in Vermont sell the company’s samosas, a fried or baked pastry with savory fillings like peas, onions, chicken and lentils.
The love of food, community and family helped create Global Village Foods. Darmaris Hall was a chef back home in Kenya, her birth country; it was there she met Mel, who was studying in Kenya at the time.
The two married and, back in America, opened up an African restaurant in Vermont called “Taste of Africa: Karibu Tulé,” which means “welcome” in Swahili.
No longer a restaurant, out of that experience came Global Village Foods.
Wangene speaks with a sense of pride in what her parents have accomplished with Global Village Foods.
She said locals could expect high standards: “People can expect that the new manufacturing facility is going to be best in class. We’re a USDA inspected plant with strict cleaning and sanitization procedures, strong safety precautions to avoid allergen cross-contamination, and a great team who makes the whole operations run.”
She added that it’s not just about the impeccably run operation but also the people. “Our team is really the beating heart of the business, and they put a lot of love, care and commitment into making the meals and samosas you know and love.”
Like most businesses during the pandemic, it wasn’t all easy for the Halls, Wangene said. “Covid-19 initially meant our business had a dramatic downturn in the first half of 2020. Since our products are sold in stores, the fact that people couldn’t walk in and buy them was a huge shock to the system.”
They joined the Upper Valley Vermont Everyone Eats program, and since then, the business has steadily moved forward. Always looking ahead, what’s next for Global Village Foods? Their frozen meals and samosas may hit convenience stores, college campuses, and university dining halls soon.
For right now, new life, purpose, and ambition light up the building at 6962 Woodstock Road, Quechee.
For more information on their official opening, visit their website globalvillagefoods.com.