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First Field

American Made Since 2011

Theresa Viggiano & Patrick Leger

Princeton, New Jersey
We're a husband and wife team that make artisanal shelf-stable products with ingredients sourced from our local agricultural community.
Food,

Tell us about your business.

It was definitely not planned, and neither of us have a background in food or agriculture. Here’s how it started: Theresa was in the middle of graduate school and renting a farmhouse with some housemates. There were some fields in the back, and she started getting into growing organic tomatoes that were well-suited to the rough, blight-prone NJ growing season. We had so many one year that we started an honor system farmstand at the bottom of the driveway, and started selling canned items along with the produce. Once we met, Patrick had the idea of making homemade ketchup (a family tradition). We got the ketchup bug and started testing recipes that would highlight these wonderful NJ tomatoes, and sold it to local shops. We started selling it regionally in 2011, and it grew from there, mostly by word of mouth. Our goal is to create economies of scale while using locally grown produce, while continuing to create new products and become available in more regions throughout the US.

What makes your business stand out?

Our local growers are some of the best around, and over time we have gotten to know who has what type of tomato or other ingredient that would be a good match for our products. While we are similar to some companies who use locally grown produce, we're different in that we directly support sustainable growing practices through research. We have received a USDA sustainable agricultural research and education (SARE) grant to help find alternative ways to grow tomatoes more sustainably. And when we all try and work together, finding solutions to difficult challenges facing northeast growers becomes more of a reality.

What's the best business advice you've received?

Setting aside opportunities for some R&R is by far the best advice we've ever heard. There will always be something to do, but making time for family and friends should be a top priority. Being well rested and happy is good for you and it's good for your business.

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