At the core of Rhapsody Natural Foods you will find a family deeply rooted in the work of building a sustainable lifestyle. We, Sjon and Elysha Welters, moved to the US from the Netherlands in 1983 with our 1 year old daughter in tow. We were in search of a place where our entrepreneurial spirits had space to soar. We dreamed of having a plot of land where we could build a homestead to support our plant-based diet while also creating an income that supports a local agricultural economy. Fourteen years of wandering up and down the East Coast landed us a mile from Cabot village in Central Vermont. This is where we started growing our roots, raising our three children and starting a business. Even today our three children and their families (7 grandchildren) live on the same property supporting the business in their own unique ways.
When we first came to Vermont in 1997 we started a restaurant in Montpelier which eventually served as the test kitchen for the current line of Rhapsody Natural Foods products. Rhapsody Natural Foods has grown since its days of small test batches in the restaurant kitchen. We currently distribute our products throughout the Northeast and online to individuals and businesses from Maine to Texas. In 2011 our ultimate dream of working where we live was brought to fruition. The building of a small production facility as a part of our homestead was completed, we sold the restaurant to the folks that now run Bagito’s and rooted ourselves even deeper into the rural Vermont landscape.
With less time commuting we now had more time to spend on our homestead. Growing the soil, maintaining large vegetable gardens, fruit trees and rice paddies are part of our daily life. All with the hope of decreasing our carbon footprint and dependency on imported food.
We are committed to running a sustainable business that supports a natural lifestyle where the days and weeks of our lives are engaging, dynamic, inspiring, challenging and fulfilling. Production, sales, marketing, distribution and bookkeeping are all divided up according to skill set and interest. With the help of three part time employees (our daughter Madelief being one of them) we get it all done with a sense of purpose and satisfaction!
Rhapsody is committed to supporting a sustainable local economy by buying our ingredients from local farmers. We purchase all our cabbage from Littlewood Farm in Plainfield and Blackwell Roots Farm in Cabot, eggroll wrappers from Vermont Fresh Pasta, and soybeans for our miso from farmers in Quebec. We have been growing rice in 3 rice paddies behind the factory on our homestead in Cabot in the hopes that someday there will be enough rice production in Vermont to be able to source the rice for our Amazake, Rice Milk and Koji (starter culture for miso, amazake and rice milk) locally as well. We are constantly in search of opportunities to collaborate with local farmers. Right now we are hoping to find someone who is excited to grow natto soybeans locally as those are only available from a very limited number of suppliers. Also, we’re working on getting our certified organic soybeans for tempeh split and dehulled from a more regional source.
We are committed to producing foods that uphold their traditional value in an effort to nourish our bodies and community. We are passionate about fermentation. Fermented foods contain beneficial probiotic bacteria, are full of digestive enzymes that aid in digestion, support immunity and help nutrients and minerals assimilate more easily. Eat something fermented at each meal! All our products are certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers. Our goal is not to only meet the organic standards but to exceed them. As the national standards of organic become less and less representative of the intention on which it was based.
In the face of the health, economic and environmental crisis that our community, both local and global, faces today we are committed to our actions contributing to positive change. Our work towards meeting this challenge is in part by sharing our passion for high quality fermented local food!
Video Profile of Rhapsody by Farmers to You