The first batch of 88 Acres Seed Bars was made out of necessity - Rob and I were training for a half Ironman race and needed to fuel our runs and busy schedules. We quickly discovered that all of the nutrition bars and snacks on the market were either nut-based and thus, not safe for Rob, or they were loudly marketed as “allergy safe foods”, which felt stigmatizing to both of us. Not to mention the ingredients, flavors and nutrition profiles were pretty sub-par. Instead of settling for the existing options, we decided to make our own.
We used ingredients from the grocery store, pressed the dough into sheet pans and baked them in our tiny apartment kitchen. Our Seed Bars are still made the same way, with the exact same recipe. They’re as close to homemade as it gets--the only difference is the wrapper. We’re able to maintain this level of quality because we have full control over the process from start to finish.
Where other food companies often produce their product through third-party manufacturing facilities called “contract manufacturers” or “co-packers”, we chose to build our own bakery in the inner-city of Boston. This allows us to create an environment that is free of the top eight most common food allergens (plus sesame) and produces zero food waste. It also benefits our community by creating jobs in our neighborhood.
The Bakery team is constantly growing and evolving just as the company does. The incredible people who bake our Seed Bars and blend our Seed Butters are the core of 88 Acres. It’s our responsibility as a company to provide them with the tools to succeed - a starting wage based on a realistic living wage (not the state minimum), healthcare benefits, a path to leadership, and a culture of empowerment where everyone is encouraged to contribute solutions to the problems we face as we continue learning the world of food manufacturing.
The Bakery Team and Founders - May 2019
65% of employees are female
Over 5,000 pounds of bar edges recaptured and turned into Seed’nola in 2018
90% hired from local community
100% of Bakery team members hired on recommendation from current employees
Even with a hand-crafted product, using some machinery is inevitable, which has been the steepest learning curve for us so far. Thankfully, growing up around farm equipment that needed constant maintenance makes the task of fixing a flow wrapper machine or rooftop HVAC unit a bit more manageable.
We never want to be the type of founders who sit in an office behind a closed door. We’re all in this together and it’s important to us that our team feels that we’re working side by side with them every day. Despite the challenges that come with scaling quickly, we’re committed to maintaining that same high-touch process as 88 Acres grows into a national brand.
Roasted Watermelon Seed Butter ready to ship.
Photos courtesy of Cara Soulia Photography