April and Azur Moulaert, a husband and wife team from Burlington, are in the midst of starting up Shelburne’s newest artisanal food producer, the Vermont Tortilla Company.
The company will open this fall as part of the Vermont Artisan Village, a collection of local food producers and artisan craftsmen being built now near Folino’s Pizza.
Their operation will use twenty percent of the space as a retail store and rest as a production center that will process a ton of corn per week, or produce 180 dozen tortillas per hour. The tortillas will be made with only three ingredients: organic Vermont corn, water, and food-grade lime.
Azur Moulaert, who holds a master’s degree in crop science, has spent most of his life working on government and NGO-funded agricultural products but grew weary of the constant search for funding. He and his wife decided that running a small business that reflected their values would be more in line with their lifestyle.
The pair had been researching every part of the local system for over a year, looking for a gap they could fill, when suddenly they found their place.
“One day while browsing through City Market’s website, they have a wish list of products,” Moulaert said, “and one of the gaps that they had identified was tortillas, corn tortillas. And it just kind of rung a bell, and both my wife April and I were like, well that sounds like a really good idea.”
The Moulaerts have a great passion for providing organic, locally sourced food, and they’re committed to realizing that goal with the tortillas they produce.
“Some of the corn that is being consumed now in Vermont in tortillas comes from California, and there it gets sourced from Nebraska,” Moulaert said, “But in our case we have two sources, one here in Vermont, Butterworks Farm, and then across the lake in Essex, New York, which is, as the crow flies, eighteen miles from where we’re sitting, there’s another farmer there, Adirondacks Grain Growers, and they’re going to be supplying us also.”
The tortilla company, Moulaert hopes, will grow to supply most of Vermont, but keeping with the local mindset, they have no plans to expand further. “If I’m able to sell a ton of corn a week processed into tortillas within the local markets, I’ll be happy,” he said, “That’s enough, I don’t want more than that.”