Arepas moon and stars is not a food cart with a mission. It’s a mission with a food cart.
“We’re a nonprofit. We’re not a restaurant,” founder Nando Jaramillo said, as he prepared Colombian arepas and empanadas to a line of hungry customers on Church Street in Burlington. “It’s the best way for us to amplify our mission statement.”
Jaramillo paused, discovering the tender corn cakes called crispy arepas on the grill of his food truck. “It’s become a restaurant,” he laughed.
At Jaramillo’s prime nonprofit opened its first food truck location in Burlington this month and has big plans for the road ahead.
“Our mission is to connect with the community through the cultivation of open-pollinated heirloom corn,” Jaramillo said. “We want to grow our own corn, produce our own arepas and bring it to people.”
Jaramillo is a relatively new Vermonter, arriving from Miami in 2018, but he’s already achieving many of his goals.
Moon and Stars uses regenerative agriculture techniques for growing maize on plots rented from Cedar Circle Farm in East Thetford and processing corn into dough at its base in South Royalton. Fillings – including cheese, beef, beans, eggs and vegetables – come from farms in Vermont, including Farm Crossmolina in West Corinth, Farm Luna Blue in South Royalton, Root farm 5 in Fairlee, flying dog farm in Tunbridge, and County Beef in Vershire.
“Local is important because you’re creating this food system that’s going to feed the community,” Jaramillo said. “It’s not going to go to, like, a big company that’s growing [on] all this land. It’s about bringing the resources and the money back to the people here in the community. »
There “opening” from Colombia to the world market in the early 1990s strength small Colombian farmers to compete with America’s ‘Big Ag’, leading to a reduction of 2.7 million acres in domestic production of short-cycle crops, including yellow and white corn, between 1990 and 1998, according to a study by 2009 report funded by Oxfam.
Free trade policies decreased the variety of corn grown in Colombia, Jaramillo said, impacting traditional crops around corn. By growing endangered maize varieties, including Zapalote ChicoJaramillo hopes to revive some of these cultural practices.
“Bringing all that good food back to people and bringing all that cooking back to the roots, I think that’s really important culturally as well,” Jaramillo said.