A local couple has entered the baby food–making business, thanks to a memorable dream and subsequent partnership with 9 Miles East Farm.
Dr. Jennifer Lefner, chair of the department of pediatrics and chief of newborn medicine at Saratoga Hospital, and her husband, John, have launched Seedlings Baby Food, a company that produces farm-fresh baby food products, for a range of ages, on a weekly basis.
The idea for Seedlings literally came about from a dream Dr. Lefner had in which she created and sold nutritious, locally sourced baby food. (The couple had become dissatisfied with the store-bought brands they had been feeding their daughters, Sasha and Olivia.) When she woke up, she told her husband about the idea, and he quickly connected her with his friend Gordon Sacks, founder and CEO of 9 Miles East. The rest is history.
Back in September, John left his job as the district executive director of the Capital District YMCA to devote himself to the new business, and that same month, Seedlings hit the shelves at 9 Miles East’s storefront on Excelsior Avenue. “What you’ll find in a jar of Seedlings is exactly what you can anticipate based on the description,” says John, who is now the company’s head of business development. “There are no additives, there are no preservatives, there are no growth hormones. This is real, clean local food.”
What sets Seedlings apart from the tried-and-true competition? Whereas those popular baby food pouches, which hit the market about 12 years ago, often mix fruit and added sugars in with vegetables, Seedlings allows farm-fresh vegetables to stand on their own. “Many of the studies of infant and toddler food have found a significant lack of dark, green, leafy vegetables available on their own,” the company notes on its blog. “How can a parent expect their 6 year old to eat plain broccoli or spinach if they had only ever eaten it mixed with apples or blueberries?”
Seedlings is offering a rotating weekly menu of products, all tabbed to three specific “stages,” based on the age of the baby. Stage One foods are for babies four to seven months old and typically have just one ingredient and a “yogurt smooth” texture; Stage Two, for babies seven to eight month old, have two to three ingredients and a “mushy oatmeal” consistency; and Stage Three, for those nine months or older, have three or more ingredients and are more chunky. Flavors change weekly—the week of November 30 included Sweet Potato for Stage One ($4) and Saratoga Apple Cinnamon Chia Pudding for Stage Two ($6)—and each four-ounce glass jar lasts for about three days in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer.
Seedlings baby food is currently available on the company’s website and can also be ordered for pickup or delivery at 9 Miles East.