Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New Year!

Sunberry Baking Company would like to wish a Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters!

It has been a great experience getting this started, and we are excited about sharing our vegan treats with the Valley in 2013.

We hope to have our kitchen inspected in mid-January, and soon thereafter we will have more info about sales locations and schedules.

cream cheese browniesIn the meantime, we can do special orders (see our Products page for available items and prices), so get in touch if you would like to place an order!

We celebrated the holiday (sort of) by making a big batch of our vegan Cream Cheese Brownies–which are not particularly relevant to New Year’s Eve, but they are amazingly delicious any day or eve. (And yes, we are eating them with a spoon…)

We hope you have a wonderful, prosperous, and peaceful 2013.

– Justin & Rosemary

Mind the Beard

We had our pre-inspection kitchen visit from the local Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services agent this week. Fortunately, things went very well, and we are looking good for getting our kitchen inspection taken care of in early January. Once that happens, we can begin selling Sunberry Baking Company’s vegan treats at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market and other businesses in Harrisonburg and Staunton.

Of course, the ins and outs of food safety are both intricate and, as most things related to regulations and laws are, a little bit exasperating. I am not a Libertarian by any means, mind you, but like most normal people the cords of regulation chafe a bit sometimes…

One of the most humorous instances of food safety smacking us in the face is the fact that my mighty red beard is a “safety hazard.” Obviously this makes sense: facial hair is just as likely to take a dive as head hair. Sigh.

The face of tyranny?

What is to be done? Enter the Beard Guard. With the same genius that went into creating the hair net, someone somewhere created a net/gauze cover for the lower portions of a fuzzy face. If and when I happen to help out in the kitchen, VDACS rules require that I mind the beard and wear a guard.

Never fear, beloved customers. I will do whatever I can to not compromise the quality of our vegan treats. Except shave…obviously.

– Justin

Community Building

The past few months have been pretty hectic, crazy, and exhausting, while also being immensely fulfilling and surprising for a number of reasons. Who knew starting a small business could be so complicated?!?!

Perhaps the most rewarding thing about starting Sunberry Baking Company for us is that we have found so much support from people who believe in what we do and love our products. Indeed, so much of the energy, enthusiasm, and momentum behind Sunberry Baking Company over the past couple of months is due to personal connections we have with individuals, organizations, and businesses in the Valley. Some of them are even “competitors”–at least according to a traditional way of doing business. But in almost all cases, our friendships and mutual support make both our own businesses and the community as a whole much, much better.

This all reflects on my belief that the best businesses function as “communities” in their own ways. Since our business is centered on vegan products and principles, the ability to create community around it is pretty straightforward: most vegans seek out and value fellowship with other vegans and businesses that cater to them, especially when those businesses are fully vegan (as Sunberry Baking Company is). But I know a lot of other businesses in the Valley that cultivate personal relationships with customers in a variety of ways, and make every customer feel like a part of something exciting–whether that be through CSA and other forms of buy-in, organizing discussion forums, offering classes and other educational programs, or hosting creative events.

Vegan community in action: the Shenandoah Valley Vegans' Holiday Cookie Exchange.

Vegan community in action: the Shenandoah Valley Vegans’ Holiday Cookie Exchange.

It has been quite amazing to watch the interest and excitement build for our vegan, ethically minded, environmentally conscious small business. I have always felt that our products function as a crucial form of outreach, so it is immensely powerful to connect with other vegans and veggie-curious folks, share support and motivation, and build a community in the process of baking our treats. This is happening through the Shenandoah Valley Vegans groups on Meetup.com and Facebook.

This all makes sense, since the real impetus for starting Sunberry Baking Company came from the response to the smorgasbord of vegan treats that Rosemary and I (mostly Rosemary) prepared for Vegan Night Out in September. Since then, there has been a steady show of excitement and anticipation about our vegan treats. Without that support, and without the burgeoning community of veggie-folk that is behind so much of it, we would have no real chance of building this business. It is not about us, after all.

And if that makes us “socialists,” so be it. ^_^

– Justin

“Droolworthy bakery treats – and they’re vegan”

Candy Cane Brownie

By Kirsten Parmer, The News Leader (Staunton, VA)
Dec. 16, 2012

It seems like every time I’ve cooked for a group of people lately, there’s been a dietary issue to consider. Lactose-free hot chocolate? Check. Gluten-free dessert? Check. Vegetarian? Peanut allergy? Paleo? Check, check, and check. My goal is to make sure that the items I prepare with those groups in mind taste as good as everything else on the table so that any non-vegetarian/lactose-intolerant/paleo person will enjoy it, too. Good food is good food, right?

Enter Sunberry Baking Co., a home-based bakery that makes “vegan treats, made with love.” Owned by newlyweds Rosemary and Justin Van Kleeck, Sunberry Baking not only adheres strictly to vegan principals, but also makes every effort to source organic, local and fair-trade ingredients used in its plethora of baked good offerings.

For those skeptics who don’t get excited at all about the picture in your head of what a vegan cookie might look like (even though Oreos are vegan, too), I double-dog-dare you to try something from the Van Kleeck’s kitchen. Sure there are things you’d expect like muesli bars made without sugar, carob powder brownies and raw carrot cake bars, but there are also a whole bunch of items that if perchance happened to be sitting on your holiday dessert buffet, you might never know the difference. Justin and Rosemary have nailed the things that we love about “real” baked goods and hate about “imitations”—texture, taste and appearance. It’s hard to make something light and fluffy and crumbly without eggs and butter.

Read the rest of Kirsten’s story about Sunberry Baking Company!

Popping Up Again…in Harrisonburg!

If you missed us in Staunton, do not fret! We will be offering some FREE samples of vegan holiday treats tomorrow (Saturday, December 14th) at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market in the Turner Pavilion, 228 S. Liberty St., starting at about 9:00. Look for us near the center.

Stop by to say hello, learn more about our awesome vegan baking, and how you can get more Sunberry Baking Company products in yo’ tummy!

Popping Up in Staunton TODAY!

005Come check Sunberry Baking Company out today and tonight in Staunton at the Virtually Sisters Holiday Pop-Up Shops, located at 16 W. Beverley St. We are here with other local vendors and have a delightful menu of holiday items:

  • Candy Cane Brownies
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
  • Sesame Wine Biscuits
  • Egg Nog Shortbread Cookies
  • Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins (gluten-free)

Stop by any time between 1 and 9 p.m. and grab some vegan treats for you and yours!

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From the Farm to Table Conference

The vegan scones were a smash hit, and the vegan brownies disappeared a little more slowly — only because there were many more! Yay for our first order!

Apple Rosemary Scones

Apple Rosemary Scones

Farm to Table 6

Farm to Table 1

Apple Rosemary and Chocolate Chip Scones

Apple Rosemary and Chocolate Chip Scones

Farm to Table 5

Why eat this when you can eat fresh vegan baked goods???

Look out, plastic rings...I will find you and BREAK YOU.

Look out, plastic rings…I will find you and BREAK YOU.

Carob Power Brownies & Vegan Deluxe Brownies

Carob Power Brownies & Vegan Deluxe Brownies (somebody stole one before I could take a picture!)

The Rolling Ball

I am not sure if the rolling ball is akin to the squeaking wheel…but it certainly has been getting a lot of my attention these days. (Sometimes it feels like trying to stay atop the ball as it rolls…but I digress.)

The Sunberry Baking Company ball has been rolling slowly for the past few months, its pace largely limited by our lack of kitchen space (as described in the Daily News-Record story about our search). Finally, however, we have some good news on that front.

After many weeks (er, months) of searching, and many moments of frustration, we are happy to announce that we now have a kitchen space that we can use for our baking! Thanks to the generosity of an avid Sunberry supporter, we have been offered a kitchen and are working to get it through the gauntlet of VDACS inspection. Our goal has always been to be baking in a certified kitchen by the new year, which will allow us to sell at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market and through other businesses. We will share news about places to buy our products as soon as we can!

We are also excited that our products will be included with other locally prepared refreshments at the Virginia Farm to Table Conference on December 5th and 6th at Blue Ridge Community College. Over 220 people are currently registered, and we are sure they will enjoy our Apple Rosemary and Chocolate Chip Scones (Wednesday), and our Carob Power and Vegan Deluxe Brownies (Thursday). As the only local dedicated-vegan baking business in the area, we hope to prove that vegan fare is also delicious–especially when “made with love”!

In addition, join us for a Vegan Holiday Cookie Exchange on Sunday, December 9th. This event is organized by the Shenandoah Valley Vegans and will be a great opportunity to share yummy vegan treats! It is also a chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour of our new baking space. For more information, check out the event pages on Facebook and Meetup.com.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us get the Sunberry Baking Company ball rolling. It has been an amazing process so far, and this positive energy looks ripe to grow and grow into the future.

– Justin