Business owners Sarah Morneault and Lindsey Levesque, co-owners of Tiller & Rye, are passionate about increasing the demand for local food. They believe in offering high quality products and building relationship with the producers, farmers, and craftsmen who make them.
Tiller & Rye is the only local natural foods market in the Brewer area and the only store focused on carrying local organic produce. The natural food store brings the community together through regionally-sourced foods and food-related events such as food and wine tastings, cooking classes, and connections to farmers markets.
“When local businesses, farmers, and artisans succeed, their whole community succeeds! Compared to national chains, local businesses like ours have a smaller carbon footprint and bring substantially more money to their community. We hope that with every dollar spent at Tiller and Rye, it is used to uphold the often lost connection between farmer and eater, make it easier for the next entrepreneur to start a business, help make the air cleaner, the world fairer, and our bodies healthier.” –Sarah Morneault, Co-Owner of Tiller & Rye
Sarah and Lindsey first came to CEI seeking business advice from Ann McAlhany, a Certified Business Counselor out of CEI’s regional Small Business Development Center in Bangor. “Ann walked us through each step starting as neophytes with a business idea. With patience and without the slightest hint of criticism, she was able to get us to figure out where the problems lay and how we could fix them. This process, which she continued throughout every inch of our plan, is so incredibly valuable to us as it has given us the tools and knowledge to better handle the ups and downs that come with starting a business,” said Lindsey.
Later, Tiller & Rye sought financing options through CEI’s lending department, which guided the new business owners through the loan process and implementation of a Department of Economic and Community Development grant into the financial plan.
“We honestly couldn’t have gotten this accomplished without CEI’s hard work, dedication and tenacity. Ann was not only key to this venture but absolutely wonderful to work with. Her energy, expertise and belief in our goal saw us through right to opening day,” said Sarah.
Employing 15 individuals and sourcing products from over 200 Maine-based farmers and artisans, Tiller & Rye is the only market of its type in an area where affordable, quality, fresh food can be hard to find.
“For Tiller & Rye in particular, we wouldn’t exist without the community’s love of local products. It’s our niche and the reason our customers walk in our doors everyday. We feel so lucky to live in a state that supports local farmers and artisans and recognizes the benefits.” –Sarah Morneault & Lindsey Levesque, Co-Owners of Tiller & Rye