Growing Local with Whole Foods Market

The StorySlam Dessert Roundup

Together with Presenting Sponsor Whole Foods Market, we’ve selected a few local producers who’ve long partnered with Whole Foods Market locally + globally to serve up a special dessert for us at StorySlam on May 22.

We connected with each of the producers to hear a little more about their journey with Whole Foods Market. What did we find? Inspiring stories of connection and a reminder of how important patience and opportunities are for a growing food business.


We caught up with TCHO Chocolate team members Jessica (National Director of Sales) and Laura (Source Program Manager). Before joining TCHO, Jessica was a Whole Foods Market buyer in the Rocky Mountain region. She remembers the first time she was presented with TCHO, “TCHO was bringing the idea of origin based foods to the chocolate set, which at that point was really a new concept.” TCHO was able to grow slowly at Whole Foods Market, region by region, allowing time to invest the dollars they needed to scale and maintain their ingredient integrity. As the business grew, they built ten bean-to-bar chocolate making factories around the world, empowering the producers to understand their own cacao from a flavor perspective.

“As we grow, we’re still always grateful for our local following and the stores that got us where we are today.” - Laura


Rubicon Bakers has an incredible social mission employing, training, and supporting people who need a second chance. So, when Whole Foods Market called looking for a natural marshmallow, they answered. This quickly turned into cake blanks and all sorts of sweet beginnings, becoming a long lasting partnership that supports Rubicon’s mission to continue opening doors for people who need an opportunity!


Little did they know that as plans were coming together for a new Whole Foods Market in Oakland, the Store Team Leader was already a regular at their Berkeley Gelato shop. She requested Gelateria Naia for the gelato counter, and within the next year, Gelateria Naia was at all NorCal Whole Foods gelato counters! Co-founder Trevor Morris credits Whole Foods Market with the brand’s entry into grocery and credibility as a high-quality product. (They even have a TCHO chocolate gelato bar!)

One of the storytellers for the evening is also a Whole Foods producer!


Nona Lim, then named Cook SF, first got into Whole Foods Market stores through the local forager program. The relationship grew and in 2012 they received a loan through the Local Producer Loan Program. A second loan came in 2014 to rebrand and launch noodles and the very first bone broth in pouches nationwide. Nona Lim, founder of Nona Lim, expressed the importance of the team’s willingness to take risks and innovate alongside smaller brands. “Whole Foods Market was patient with me in the early years to give me time to grow and be successful”

Did you know??

In addition to featuring local products in their stores, Whole Foods Market provides up to $10 million in low-interest loans to independent farmers, ranchers and artisan producers through their Local Producer Loan Program. Nona Lim and Gelateria Naia have both been recipients of this program!

Join us at StorySlam on May 22. There are just a few tickets left!