A new business in Vermont's Chittenden County believes it has major growth potential in what is currently a niche market.
A suburban industrial park probably isn't where you'd expect to find a farm, but Flourish Farm in Williston is one like none other around the area.
"We are the first — the only — in Vermont and New England," claimed Steve Swanson, a self-described cricket farmer.
Swanson's raising crickets in a temperature-controlled space, using what he calls "cricket condos."
While a new concept to most in North America, many people around the globe have been eating insects for a long time.
Flourish Farm says there's good reason for that.
"They're extremely nutrient-dense," Swanson said of crickets, adding that they are full of amino acids.
Crickets also have a really light footprint on the land, Swanson said, requiring few resources and emitting almost no greenhouse gases compared to foods like beef or pork.
However, the business acknowledges it will be a challenge to win over some consumers.
"It's going to take some time," Swanson admitted. "We're not going to be like, 'Everyone's got to eat crickets right now.'"
Swanson offered the NBC 10 Boston news crew some of his buffalo-spiced roasted crickets, which seemed like close cousins to corn nuts, in terms of the eating experience.
"There are eaters who have an appetite for it," said Lynn Ellen Schimoler, who focuses on agriculture business development for the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.
Schimoler said she thinks the edible insect industry has real growth potential.
"I think there's a certain brilliance about the entrepreneurs in this state, and the producers in this state, and their willingness to think outside the box and encourage really good growth in the food system," Schimoler observed.
Flourish Farm predicts it is likely to find customers in folks passionate about environmental sustainability, and in fitness buffs who want to increase their protein intake using powdered crickets — maybe in smoothies.
"It's going to be extremely neutral, so you don't taste it," Swanson said of the protein powder made from crickets.
With the capacity to raise hundreds of thousands of crickets in the boxes inside his facility, Steve Swanson is convinced Flourish Farm is on the forefront of food's future.
Flourish Farms is hosting an open house Saturday, May 5, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its headquarters at 340 Avenue D, Suite 50, in Williston.