Entrepreneur launches a legacy and value-added produce products

June 22, 2014
by Candace Harrell, Richland Source

Entrepreneurs have many reasons for launching an enterprise, but Pam Mack’s is unique: Mack wanted to leave a legacy for her grandsons in honor of their deceased mother, Mack’s daughter. Mack’s entrepreneurial enterprise, named L Marie Ltd. in tribute to her daughter, is a certified organic vegetable company with value-added products soon to hit store shelves. The first will be Mack’s locally famous chutney.

Mack let classmates, family, and friends taste test her products, as well as attendees at a speaking engagement. “They all loved it,” she said. “I’m not worried about the demand, but there’s a process you have to go through and it’s not ready yet.”

Mack explained that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires producers to complete a Better Process Control School, either in-person or online. Mack completed the course online through University of California, Davis. “There are about eight courses or sections that you have to take, but they offer 16, so I took all 16,” she said.

“Now I’m at the step that I have to find a Process Authority,” she added. A Process Authority, according to the FDA, must have expert knowledge of thermal processing requirements for low-acid foods acquired through appropriate education, training, and experience.

Once FDA approval is received, the product must be processed in a commercial kitchen, noted Mack.

“I’ve always gardened,” said Mack, who grows all of the vegetable ingredients for the chutney, from seed to product.

Certified organic for three years, Mack said she went the organic route for the health benefits. “I have four people in my family with autoimmune disease,” she said. Mack’s daughter passed away from Lupus complications and Mack stepped in to raise her grandsons. With family health issues, Mack feels her health, as well as that of her family, and the fact her grandsons depend on her, is worth the effort of growing and eating organically.

Mack is a graduate of the Entrepreneur Cohort class at North Central State College’s Urban Center.

“I had already started developing the business when I went to the class. I’d been working on it the last two years, once I knew I was going to retire,” said Mack, who retired last year after 30 years employment with the state of Ohio.

“You learn a lot in the class that you never would have otherwise,” added Mack. “Heather [Tsvaris], the instructor, is so full of energy. She gets so excited and she is so knowledgeable in that area. You just can’t beat it, not if this is what you really want to do.”

Mack hopes to have produce available for sale at the North End Farmers’ Market soon. With the later cool weather, she noted, vegetable production is a bit slow this year. Mack has over 300 tomato plants growing in a long tunnel that should be producing soon.

She will offer a variety of tomatoes, from Mortgage Lifter to Amish Paste, as well as green and lemon cucumbers, yellow and green zucchini, radishes, carrots, cabbage, peppers, cauliflower, onions, pumpkins, and even okra, as well as a variety of beans.

Mack will be speaking at the Northeast Ohio Agribusiness Forum breakfast on June 27 at 7:30 a.m. The topic will be “Becoming an agricultural entrepreneur after retirement.” The breakfast is held at the Der Dutchman restaurant, 720 State Route 97 West, in Bellville. The event is sponsored by Braintree Business Development Center and The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. Registration forms may be found at the website. There is a $5 charge for the breakfast, payable at the door.

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