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Sweet homecoming: A queer entrepreneur returns to their family farm to mend ties, preserve & grow

Owner of V Smiley Preserves in New Haven, VT

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with V Smiley, a former chef and the passionate driving force behind V Smiley Preserves - a honey-based jams, savory preserves and marmalades business based in New Haven, Vermont.

V visiting a local Vermont raspberry farmer

V was born on a farm in rural Vermont, a child of Back-to-the-Landers. Some of V’s fondest childhood memories are sitting around the table enjoying delicious meals grown on their farm. In their early twenties V came out as queer and it was not well received, especially by V’s father. Feeling unwelcome to return home, V moved to the West Coast and started working in restaurants.

The pace and culture of the restaurant industry was intense so when V had an opportunity to make preserves for a seasonal fine dining restaurant - which had a different skill set, pace and hours, V jumped at the chance. Thus began V’s mastery and passion for preserves.

V Smiley Preserves was built in Seattle as a side hustle with the full intent to eventually move that business back to V’s childhood home and farm in Vermont. V's story hopefully will speak to anyone out there dreaming of returning to their rural roots but can't figure out how to find employment or build a business.

I initially connected with V and V's partner Amy back in 2018. The couple had just recently moved back to Vermont and were still in the early days of replanting roots on V's childhood farm. It was a time of growth, reconciliation and planning for the future.

V and V's mother Susan

V transitioning from employee to employer has required analysis of the system and culture of the food industry to see where improvements and changes can and should be made. It is I am so inspired by V and Amy’s vision for the future and their tireless work they’ve put into creating a rural destination in New Haven.

It is extremely difficult to build something from scratch and trying to find funding when you are one of the first businesses trying out a unique business model in a rural location. I hope V is able to make the mini-factory a reality. I encourage anyone listening who is a jam or preserves lover to treat yourself to V’s incredible line-up of jams.

This is a story of homecoming, careful and intentional planning, legacy, perseverance and preserves.

Thank you V for sharing your story with us!


Instagram @vsmileypreserves

• Facebook @vsmileypreserves


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