Lunagrown on Hudson Valley WTBQ
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LunaGrown on WTBQ August 28, 2018

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LunaGrown joins WTBQ Scott Lask & Susan Glusica, August 28th, 2018

“Wall Street to Main Street” Scott Lask & Susan Glusica on WTBQ 93.5 FM & 1110 AM. Guest Christopher Wilson of LunaGrown Jam. LunaGrown Jam Maker joins Scott and Susan for a fun and informative interview.

For additional ideas on utilizing jam, marmalade and jellies check out our book “Beyond the Bread~ Tasteful Exploration of Jam and Marmalade” available in both Print and Kindle editions.

Interview Transcript:

Scott: Well, for all of those out there who enjoy delicious foods, we have Chris Wilson with us from LunaGrown jam and I am prefacing this by saying I'm diabetic and I could eat this stuff by the spoonful.

Okay, so I...

Chris began on LunaGrown as a home-based business in 2012 and LunaGrown currently operates a commercial kitchen on a small Berry Farm and vineyard in the Hudson Valley of New York.

All LunaGrown products utilize small batch production, which you're gonna have to explain to us. Are Kosher certified and are a reduced sugar product, which is really great for everyone. Now Chris began his career in visual merchandising before seeking employment in the bar and restaurant industry, "This field offered hands-on experience involved the front and back-ends of the restaurant bar business and with the focus on management and culinary art he refined his skills. He has a Master food preservation certification from the prestigious Cornell Cooperative Extension and is working to acquire his better process control certification from the University of California.

He's also a retired singer-song in this. And I play music, too. Were never retired.

Okay, with numerous recordings released, his book "Beyond the Bread" is currently in its second printing, Chris is an avid reader. He also enjoys his time outdoors, hiking, and tending the fields. His spare time is focused on agricultural studies, website development, and his dogs.

Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris: Good morning, thank you for having me.

Scott: So tell us how you came to wanna do jams.

Chris: LunaGrown, It came at a necessity actually. Being in the bar business, when the State did what the State did to the businesses as far as smoking regulations and DWI regulations, a lot of places closed. So at my age, I'm going, "What am I gonna do?

So friends had purchased land and we discovered blueberries on the land, eight acres of wild blueberries, and I said, "Well we'll give us a try.

And I made some and sold a little so I said, "Well we're just gonna wing it and we're gonna go and we're gonna see where it takes us and here we are, six, I don't how many years later?

Yeah, We had to build a commercial kitchen after the first year because...

Scott: Which is no joke.

Chris: We wanted to go, reduce sugar, you have to have a commercial kitchen, so you put that up and you file all the paperwork and you just go, you just do... So that is...

Scott: Tell us about some of the Jams. I know we just tried the strawberry, which you...

Chris: You tried the raspberry.

Scott: That's right I'm sorry, I apologize.

It's only my second cup of coffee -but the point is, I'm looking at the clock on as much as I love doing the show, I wanna get back out there and have another bagel with that jam on it.

So tell us about some of the flavors and some of the things that make LunaGrown unique.

Chris: Right now, we are actually in the next month, we'll be switching to the holiday season products, we're coming into Apple season pear season cranberries, which we don't grow we actually have to get those from Massachusetts, but those are the upcoming items that we're focusing on.

Susan: So are you doing any pumpkin spice? Anything...

Chris: I don't do anything pumpkin...

Susan: That seems to be like a hit on the taste of register.

Chris: The challenge with pumpkin, apple butters. Any of the butter products, the acid levels are different, so the pH is different. You get into this whole food chemistry thing and different federal regulations it's crazy.

Scott: Chris, we have a caller. A good morning, if you could tell us your name and where you calling from.

Caller: Yes, it's Mark.

Scott: Hey Mark Good morning how are you.

Mark: Good morning Scott, Good morning Chris and good morning Susan. I just had a question for about the Jams Chris, can you tell me if they're organic, or not and if so, USDA or anything like that? How many carbs how many sugars the product would have?

Chris: Okay, we are not organic certified, we do not spray pesticides however we're not organic certified, that's a whole another deal.

Our sugars and our carbohydrates, the sugars, usually fall between five and seven grams per tablespoon. So the carbs one or two of that, I, I only said we're not organic. Was there another question?

Mark: Yes, the carbs, the total carbs for the product or depending on what the product is, of course.

Chris: Well, it's gonna change per product of course. But the cars were gonna fall around the sugar area so I... So carbohydrates would range anywhere between 7-9 For tablespoon.

Mark: Okay.

Scott: Which, actually, I'm gonna cut in here 'cause I'm a huge peanut butter and jelly fan and when you take the standard Jellies off the shelf they're 13 to 15 grams of carbohydrate, per tablespoon. So this is much better and much easier for us. Diabetics.

Mark: Right? And Chris has... Normally Fruit generally has sugar in it naturally. And what tends to be the lower carbs is one lower than the other. Let's say if we're talking a blueberry versus say the strawberry or something like that.

Chris: Well, in general, the fruits that are lower in sugar will have less carbs, so if you're a keto person, you can actually...have raspberries or blueberries on that specific program because they have lower cars than say Banana, which we don't make banana jam, but peaches will be higher because it's a higher sugar fruit.

Mark: Right, depending on the content of the fruit.

Chris: Correct.

Mark: Alright. Okay, thank you very much, I appreciate it.

Scott: Mark, as always we love hearing from you, and have a great and safe labor day. That thank you.

Susan: I actually follow a keto style, so I have actually a fruit net carb list for the serving for and Strawberries are one of the lowest.

Scott: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, seriously. When you're diabetic, and your sugars are low you wanna reach for that banana or pop of Orange juice. Talk about to switch over to the holiday season, or what are the big sellers that we should all try to get before they sell out.

Chris: What everybody tries to get from me, in December we do a blood orange marmalade with raspberries, and it comes in, I'm sorry, the oranges, we have brought in, of course, that gets made and it's gone. I mean it's gone within a week. Yeah, that's one of the...

Susan: What was that again?

Chris: Blood orange with raspberries which... And that won't be available to December, but what we're coming into a...

Susan: So can you pre-order it?

Chris: No.

Scott: Ha Ha, that was my next question.

Chris: We don't do pre-orders because we don't know how the crops are gonna be... A challenge.

Susan: Right, that makes sense.

Chris: Three or four years ago, we did an apricot a fresh apricot right off our trees and it was beautiful, it was an absolutely beautiful product. And then the year after was so challenging with the harvest. We didn't get any, wow and we had this year, we had a limited amount.

Susan: This has been so wet. So you have that effect.

Scott: The people forget that with all the science and technology farming is still, it's a very volatile business.

Susan: Such a natural process.

Scott: And do not mess with mother nature, she's the boss.

Susan: So I have a question, is it are you represented at any farmers' markets locally.

Chris: The one farmers' market is Goshen farmers and that is the One, is probably the only farmers' market, I do every year on a regular basis. It's a great market and the people that run it are wonderful because they... Diana, the market manager, she polishes her people.

So, I, when I first started there six years ago that was my first farmers' market every... And if you listen to your market managers and your fellow business people, they'll bring you up, they'll help I guess hone your skills so that you're better in the public eye and your product starts to look better. It's just a really great experience.

Scott: Let give you an example of that. When I went to the Goshen market a couple the lease go, I bought some broccoli and some other vegetables and the stand that I bought it at said "Now go over here because they have the best onions in the best garlic". And so it really was like, "Well, we're the first step in the recipe. Now go see these folks", right?

Susan: It's a tag-team effort...

Scott: Yeah, I so how do people get in touch with you and can they actually just come to the farm?

Chris: No, we do not, as most farms you'll find if they're not a market they don't allow people on it anymore. The insurance is crazy. So, sadly, nobody visits the farm. However, we are available online, of course, we ship nationwide, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Susan: What is your site?


Susan: How'd you come up with "Luna-grown.

Chris: Luna? When we got the land where my partners got the land, they had a dog named Luna, and I had a dog named Ben and they were best pals I mean, the best pals the... We let them run the land, it was 50 acres and then we couldn't find Luna, we didn't know where she went, so we found her sitting in the blueberries... She was sitting there picking these blueberries off the bushes that's kind of how it started, but how could you not name it after her?

Susan: That's awesome, I love that story.

Scott: And folks, just so you know, it's L-U-N-A-grown.

Susan: Yeah, that's beautiful. So we have to go to break when we come back. We'll have more discussions with Chris Wilson and...

Scott: And keep your appetite going.

[commercial] 10:55 - 12:20.

Scott: And welcome back everyone. This is Scott Lask with the belt Management Group and Susan Glusica with label prosperity solutions. You're listening to Wall Street to Main Street where money matters matter and of course, today, we're talking about food, our favorite topic, that's right.

Scott: Well the money is really there just to facilitate the food.

And we are here, with Chris Wilson, the owner of LunaGrown. So with the holiday season coming up, what do you wanna let all the moms and dads out there know that they should order right now so that we have a better Thanksgiving.

Chris: Well... They don't have to order anything right now, but they should go to the site and familiarize themselves with it and then at least look at where our retailers are 'cause we do have a lot of really wonderful retailers in the Hudson Valley from cold spring up to Albany, and everything in between.

Scott: Well let's say in Orange County.

Susan: I was up in Albany yesterday so well.

Chris: There are two stores in Warwick that carry us, Warwick Winery and the olive store in Warwick.

Oh, I cool.

Chris: There are three different "butchers-specific butchers that carry a product to pair with the meat sure, and to pair with cheeses 'cause that's our goal. We tell folks. Skip the bread.

Yeah, because you can do so much more with the product. You meet graves, you can have cheese pairings you should have wine pairings you can really add it to your life and just that little just a little bit of sweetness in the world.

Susan: And it does change the pallet when you're testing things.

Scott: Oh you're killing me because I got a pork loin in the freezer... Yeah, that what my plan was, is to slit it up and put some cinnamon apples in and wrap it in bacon and you put it in the oven for about half out, and then you throw it on the grill. But I'm gonna take a step back and I'm gonna look at some of your jams.

That's a great idea.

Chris: I do it that way or nice glaze on top is just a beautiful thing, we can say, or way to go.

Scott: Yes, so, so are you doing any events and tastings anything of that at...

Chris: So, our next event is actually in two weeks and we're doing the Hudson Valley, Wine, and Food festival, in Rhinebeck.

Scott: Oh, very nice.

Chris: And after that, I believe we are doing in August. Warwick Applefest, and there's a few in between. And Thanksgiving we always do to Bialas farms has a very nice Thanksgiving event with fresh vegetables and different vendors to help people get ready for that holiday.

Scott: What about... Just mind-boggling that I'm already thinking about Christmas gifts? Do you do like baskets?

Chris: No, no we don't specifically.

Scott: Are there any gift services that specifically buy a lot of your product.

Chris: There are some florists that buy us in smaller jars because they'll do gift baskets and such for the holidays.

Scott: So before we conclude what's the one message about LUNA farms that you would like to get out and have the public really understand about what you're doing?

Chris: Well, our goal was to offer a better product and to offer a product lower in sugar with great taste. Because we also have family members that are diabetic. So that was a big thing. But I would say to anybody that's looking at life is, we can go back a little bit.

You're looking at life and you've got a new business or you have an old business. The biggest thing is to not be afraid, that is the biggest killer in business, yes, and what we've learned along the way is I'm uncertain about it. We're gonna do it, we're just gonna go, the only time you're gonna fail, you're gonna fail to yourself, nobody else is gonna know so.

Susan: And there are great learnings it's.

Chris: It's the most important thing in business and for us, and we hope that we have a good following, but we hope that that continues.

Scott: I do, I think that's great advice.

Susan: It's sage advice, yeah.

Scott: Well, I mean, think about it, and of course we're in financial services, but can you think of any business during the crash of 2008, there wasn't sitting a go. What's gonna happen and everyone was forced to take that step back. And I know the one thing, 'cause I did a massive restructuring that it took three years to get some traction, but the one thing that kept me going was the famous story about Thomas Edison, when his engineers and scientist said, Mr. Edison. We've tried to find that film and 10000 times and we really can say we gave it our best and that we failed because now we just found 10-000 ways that didn't work. So I think that really that speaks very highly to the way you run your company. And I love businesses that founded based on a desire to do something better for the people that they love.

Susan: To improve the lives of those they love and the community at large. Absolutely.

Chris, you're gonna have to come back. We're pretty, pun intended, that we're pretty jammed up until the end of the year... But if we find the spot that we can have you, or at least maybe you'll call in, as we get close to Thanksgiving, so we can help promote some business we'd love to do that for you.

Chris: Well, thank you very much and thank you for having me.

Scott: My pleasure.

Susan: I have a question. How can people get your book?

Chris: The books available on the website or at events.

Susan: "Luna-grown, dot com yes, yeah, so.

Chris: The Kindle version is on Amazon.

Susan: You have recipes in the book.

Scott: Oh yeah, So I see we're looking at graves and saute. So, of course, I just turned to the desert, to look at this look at this I'm drooling.

Susan: That's beautiful.

Scott: Yeah, you know what is in many ways to this, can we take some pictures out of the book and put it on our social media sites?

Chris: Sure!

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