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Francestown

Village Foods now based in Milford

Meals in stores throughout New England

FRANCESTOWN — Francestown Village Foods, which started in the historic Main Street store and gained a regional presence in recent years, has recently moved to a new location in Milford.

Former Village Store owners Jason and Jennifer Martel began preparing meals like lasagna, burritos, shepherd’s pie, pasta dishes and more, with local ingredients, to be frozen and ready-to-go at the store.

The venture proved so successful that they eventually outgrew the Francestown location.

“For the last three years we have more than doubled in size every year,” Jason Martel said Wednesday. “The customers sell the product as much as we do, it’s word of mouth.”

Their gourmet frozen foods can be found in stores all across New England and New York. They’re in stores like Stop and Shop and Shaw’s as well as small, independent grocers. All the cooking and operations take place in their 8,200-square-foot facility, where they employ 15 people.

Martel said he plans to bring in another nine or 10 employees within the next 90 days.

Although Martel does not help in preparing the foods, the staff still prepares the meals from scratch with locally grown ingredients and local packaging. Although not all of the ingredients come from the area around Milford, they are local in the sense that, as Martel explained, they come from independent farms and businesses.

The Martels were originally looking for a traditional warehouse space, and thought about moving into a facility in Peterborough. But Martel said the new facility in Milford is more appropriate for their operations.

Martel said they chose the facility in Milford when he and his wife realized a warehouse-type environment was not right for them. To meet cleanliness standards, they needed to be able to easily wash everything, so low ceilings were necessary, which one doesn’t find in warehouses.

Village Foods is equipped with its own vans and employs drivers to distribute the food to markets. Martel said the business also does a lot of its distribution through Associated Groceries of New England, which delivers the food to small and independent stores.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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