SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Local parents now have an easy way to feed their babies fresh, local food through Seedlings, a new business run by infant nutrition expert Dr. Jennifer Lefner was founded.
As a double certified neonatologist and pediatrician, Lefner recently founded Seedlings Baby Food, the first company of its kind in the capital region.
Produced and packaged within a few days after the harvest, Seedlings’ baby food is freshly made with local and regional ingredients that are sustainably grown and raised without the use of GMOs or RGBH. The food contains no salt, sugar, or preservatives and is cooked using methods that preserve most of the nutrients.
“It’s a real farm-to-baby experience,” said Lefner, who in addition to her new corporate role is Chair of Pediatrics and Director of Neonatal Medicine at Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Neonatology in Saratoga Springs.
The vegan and gluten-free baby food is responsibly packaged in recyclable jars. The four-ounce meals can be enjoyed immediately, refrigerated for up to three days, and frozen for up to 3 months.
Through this endeavor, Lefner wants to provide babies with food of the highest quality and freshness and help them develop diverse palates and healthy eating habits for a lifetime.
“We all know that childhood nutrition has such a big impact on later results, both health and cognitive outcomes,” said Lefner. “And we know that child diet is directly related to childhood obesity, which is related to cardiovascular health later in life – and that type of diet is definitely an aspect of prevention.”
Seedlings were established during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Lefner, who made baby formula for her own two children when they were little, saw the news that farmers had to throw away their unused product. Her desire to support local farmers and her extensive knowledge of baby food combined, she developed the concept for seedlings.
The company started production last fall and uses local ingredients grown by 9 Miles East Farm in Northumberland. Baby food is also available at Cafe Excelsior Ave. 64 of the farm in Saratoga Springs, where customers can buy them by the glass.
For added convenience, parents can have seedlings delivered straight to their home via the 9 Miles East meal subscription program, which offers deliveries throughout the capital region and even as far as Boston. Production takes place on Sundays and home delivery takes place on Mondays.
The products change depending on the seasonally available and fresh produce.
Currently, foods such as carrots, blueberries, spinach, apples, peppers, and summer squash are available for babies at seedling level 1 this summer. This stage serves as an introduction to solid foods for babies four to seven months of age. Seedlings Stage 2 for seven- to nine-month-olds includes recipes with two to three ingredients with a Greek yogurt or oatmeal consistency, such as the Blueberry Lemon Chia Pudding with organic coconut milk. In seedling stage 3, the food for children aged nine months and over contains three or more ingredients in a lumpy texture with small pieces of food, such as the Baby Greek Chicken & Rice with lemon and oregano.
These nutritious, pediatrician-recommended and baby-approved recipes have quickly become popular with Seedlings’ customers.
The next step for the company includes food safety testing by the Cornell Food Venture Center, which will help determine the shelf life of the products. This will also allow Seedlings to expand their menu options in the future.
Looking to the future, Lefner is very enthusiastic about the best possible nutrition for babies and would like to focus on expanding the company’s customer base and increasing production.
“I really believe that every baby should be able to get fresh food,” she said.
Finally, Lefner envisions spreading seedlings far and wide. She said, “My ultimate long-term goal is to see seedlings in different communities across the country, focusing on local dishes, local products, local tastes and flavors.”
Seedlings baby food costs between $ 4 and $ 6 per jar. Three-week starter packages are also available.
More information about Seedlings Baby Food and its products can be found online at www.seedlingsbabyfood.com.