September 2016

Spotlight on Four Pillars Farm

We casting our Co-op Spotlight this week on Four Pillars farm of Whiting, Vermont. This beautiful organic farm provides our Co-op with an abundant array of local produce including baby spinach, baby arugula, baby kale, mesclun, Brussels sprouts, juicing greens, red & yellow onions, sweet onions, sweet peppers, daikon & watermelon radishes, butternut & spaghetti squash, and purple potatoes. Wow! And they’re all 20% off for member-owners this week! Read on to learn more about this gem nestled in the fertile valley of Addison County.

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Four Pillars Farm is a certified organic vegetable farm set in the beautiful, fertile rolling hills of southern Addison county. Their mission is to provide healthy , top quality produce, to grow better not bigger, to protect and build the fertility and biological diversity on their land and build relationships with their community partners by encouraging them to come and see how their food is being grown.

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Farmer-owner Peter Cousineau is committed to the use of growing practices that go beyond sustainable to regenerative. He incorporates permaculture principles into his farming methods to help recycle nutrients in the soil, promote water retention, and prevent soil degradation. He has also worked to increase beneficial insect populations on the farm and has remineralized the soil to bring back the 70+ trace minerals that most veggies are missing these days due to soil-degrading farming practices.

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Another permaculture principle evident in Cousineau’s practices is the concept of people care. One example includes an annual event where he invites employees from our Co-op and other neighboring Co-ops that sell his produce to visit the farm, take a tour, and enjoy a farm-to-table meal that he prepared. This annual gathering is not only an opportunity to see the gorgeous farm where the produce is grown and learn more about what it takes to get the produce from seed to co-op shelf, but also provides an important opportunity to build relationships, mutual respect, and truly engage in a community partnership between producers and consumers.  Below are some photos from last year’s gathering.

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Spotlight on Champlain Orchards

Ah, the first official day of autumn! The crisp chill in the morning air and the first few dappled leaves high in the mountains signal that the season is here, along with the abundance of local apples. In our final week of celebrating Eat Local Month, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on one of the oldest continuously operating orchards in Vermont – Champlain Orchards in Shoreham! They’re featured in our Member Deals program this week, so member-owners can enjoy 20% off their stunning array of fresh apples and apple products including sweet apple cider, apple pies, and apple cider donuts, along with their heirloom plums and Asian pears! Read on to learn more about this family-owned, solar powered, ecologically managed orchard overlooking Lake Champlain.

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The story of Champlain Orchards as we know it today began in 1998, when twenty-seven-year-old Bill Suhr purchased 60 acres of orchard in Shoreham, Vermont. At the time, the property was in the process of being conserved as agricultural land by the Vermont Land Trust as part of their Farmland Access Program. This feature of the land ultimately made it possible for such a young person to consider the purchase because the trust obtained the development rights, which in turn made the property much more affordable.  Bill’s motivation and initiative to live off the land overshadowed the fact that apple growing and fruit farming were not in his realm of knowledge, but thanks to the seasoned expertise of long established neighboring orchardists Sandy Witherell, Scott and Bob Douglas, and Judy Pomainville – who all shared equipment, land, and information, it wasn’t long before the orchard was thriving.

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Today, Champlain Orchards manages over 220 acres of fruit trees that include over 100 varieties of apples, 20 varieties of pears, 12 varieties of plums, and 15 varieties of nectarines/peaches. Their fruit is ecologically grown and third-party certified by the IPM institute. Eight acres are certified Organic by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) and our farm is 100% electrically solar powered, with Solar Orchard #3 in the planning stages.

Additionally, Champlain Orchards runs a cidery. Every single apple in their Vermont Hard Cider is pressed, fermented, and crafted at their orchard. This makes for a quality, local product that is fresh, crisp and deliciously drinkable. Their cidery offers original Vermont hard cider, Mac & Maple, Heirloom, Honeycrisp, Cranberry, Pruner’s pride, Ginger & Spice, Asian Pear, Honey plum, Pruner’s Promise, Sparkling Ice, Peach, Hopped Native, and Ice cider.

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Needless to say, Bill is as ambitious as they come. His passion for working on the land and the fruit mixed with his forward thinking and goals of success and sustainability have created a thriving Vermont agricultural business that provides to communities all over the state. But he was and is far from alone in his efforts. The knowledgeable Shoreham orchard community, an equally motivated wife and business partner, Andrea Scott, and a hard working Champlain Orchards Crew of over 30 local employees all continually contribute to cultivating and shaping the Orchard into the business we know and trust today.

Bill and Andrea now have a son, Rupert (named after Rupert, Vermont, where they met at a contra dance), and a daughter named Rosa. Rupert is an expert on tractors and can tell you more about orchard operations and apple varieties than most of our crew. The four share a beautiful home on the orchard as well as a love of the outdoors, dancing, food, and music. “Although there are huge stresses and we are constantly working to find more balance, we have a huge appreciation for the lifestyle that farming allows for- the time outdoors, the time with plants and trees, and using our hands. We love watching young trees and grafted trees bearing new fruit, it always amazes us!”

 

Bill and Andrea have taken their dream of providing nourishing food to the community farther than they imagined and are excited to enter these new frontiers of fruit growing. Their passion for the trees and the well-being of the orchard and the environment only grows with the yearly increasing harvest and varietal plantings. Bill often remarks “I was just trying to grow some apples!” when reflecting on the evolution of Champlain Orchards and where he finds himself today. As the orchard crew, we look at Bill and Andrea’s efforts and are inspired by their initiative and are proud to take part in the orchard and all that it offers to the community. And most of all, we are excited for the future of Champlain Orchards and we hope you will stay posted to follow and take part in our growth and change!

Champlain Orchards from Farmers To You on Vimeo.

Spotlight on Stonewood Farm

Are you enjoying Eat Local Month as much as we are? The abundance of beautiful local produce this time of year makes us feel so lucky to live where we do. But, eating local isn’t just about fruits & veggies. Where would we be without our local meat producers? This week, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Stonewood Farm of Orwell, VT. They provide big, beautiful turkeys for our Thanksgiving tables, and keep us stocked in ground turkey and turkey breasts year-round. Their products are featured on our Member Deals program this week and will be 20% off for member-owners. Read on to learn about this fantastic farm that is all about raising turkeys the natural way:

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Established in 1976 by Paul & Francis Stone, Stonewood Farm has been a family owned and operated farm ever since and is now run by Peter Stone & Siegrid Mertens. Here are the rules of raising natural turkeys at their farm:

  • The turkey-friendly barns are uncrowded and open-sided providing lots of fresh air and natural sunlight
  • The turkeys are raised without hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products added to their feed
  • There are no added preservatives or artificial ingredients
  • Humane Care at our farm means plenty of Vermont air, cold nights, good feed, and tender loving care
  • The turkeys are intentionally grown slowly. This ensures a delicious and naturally self-basting turkey, which lends a superior flavor and juiciness that Stonewood Farm turkey is known for
  • To ensure a humane harvest, we have an on-site USDA-approved processing plant that is operated by our family. All turkeys are individually hand graded to ensure the highest quality

Be sure to visit us on the web for recipes!

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Spotlight on Golden Russet Farm

As we continue to celebrate Eat Local Month, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on a local, organic farm that has been part of our Co-op family for over 30 years – Golden Russet Farm! We acquire more produce from their farm than from any other farm in Vermont! Member-owners can enjoy 20% their abundant array of local, organic veggies and their glorious fresh-cut bouquets this week! Read on to learn more about this wonderful farm and the fine folks who work tirelessly to make it such a special place:

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Farming Organically Since 1981

Farm owners Will and Judy Stevens have been growing organic vegetables commercially since 1981, having started on a small plot of rented land in Monkton, VT. After growing their business and refining their techniques, all the while learning from other pioneers in the Vermont organic farming community, they determined it was time to expand their operation. In 1984 they purchased a former dairy farm with good soils in the agriculturally-rich town of Shoreham, VT, in the southwestern corner of Addison County—home to Golden Russet Farm.

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Certified Organic in 1987

The Stevens have always used exclusively organic production practices on their vegetable and greenhouse operations and became certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers in 1987. Among other things, this means they use crop rotation, cover crops, biological and naturally-derived pest controls, compost, animal manure, and naturally-derived fertilizers as standard management practices.

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CSA, Farmstand, Greenhouse Sales & Cut Flowers for Events

Golden Russet Farm starts off the season with vegetable and flower plant sales in the greenhouses and the Farm-to-Kitchen Connection CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. In addition to raising vegetables for market, Judy also grows flowers for cutting, which adds color to the fields and creates habitat for beneficial insects. You’ll find these beautiful bouquets for sale throughout the summer months at the Co-op.

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A Hyper-Local Sales Focus

Since 2003, the farm’s focus has been on “hyper-local,” meaning that approximately 90% of their produce has been consumed within 20 miles of the farm. Their produce is available at the farm stand, their CSA, at food markets in Middlebury and Burlington, and at Addison County restaurants.

Solar Powered Since 2013

In April of 2013 the Stevens put up five free-standing solar panels which provide them with all of their farm and personal electrical energy needs.

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About The Farmers

Judy is a fourth-generation Vermonter from southern Vermont. Her family ran a successful Christmas tree business in the Londonderry area for many years. This experience helped her and Will create a successful mail order wreath business that they ran from the farm until about 2000. Will moved to Vermont from the Ticonderoga, NY area in 1977 to finish his college education at the University of Vermont, which is where he and Judy met. He graduated in 1980 with a BA in studio art, with a specialty in blacksmithing.

After spending the summer of 1980 at Shelburne Museum (Judy as a weaver, and Will in the Blacksmith’s Shop), they were serendipitously presented with the opportunity to ramp up their homestead gardening interest to a commercial scale, and in the first several years everything they grew was sold exclusively at the Burlington Farmers’ Market. From the beginning, their mission has been to provide good quality food to people at reasonable prices.

Shortly after they moved to an old dairy farm in Shoreham, VT, in November 1984, they began to raise a family–Freeman was born in 1986, Pauline in 1989, and Anna came along in 1991. The kids had a sand pile in front of the shed, which, as the greenhouse plant business grew over the years, became a magnet for customers’ children. At some point, the pile was moved to its present location at the corner of the flower garden, which makes it much easier for shopping parents to keep an eye on their children!

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Between 1989 and 1992, Will served as President of Vermont Organic Farmers, which then was NOFA-VT’s certification committee. This was an exciting time in the world of organic agriculture. The sudden interest in the link between food safety and production practices was inspired by Meryl Streep’s CBS appearance on 60 Minutes in the fall of 1989 when she railed against a particular spray used on apples. “Mothers and Others for Pesticide Limits” was formed, bringing public awareness to the benefits of organic agriculture. Suddenly, a fringe movement that had been based on back-to-the-land ideals found itself moving toward the mainstream. Some would say that this was the beginning of the localvore movement.

Judy served for 3 years on the board of the Vermont Fresh Network. VFN strives to foster meaningful, mutually profitable relationships between Vermont food producers and chefs and was one of the earliest formal “Farm to Table” initiatives in the nation.

Judy and Will have been actively involved in Town affairs through various organizations and boards. Judy served on the Rescue Squad through much of the eighties and has played an important role in the expansion and promotion of Shoreham’s Platt Memorial Library over the last twenty years. Will was elected to the Town Planning Commission in the mid-nineties, and eventually chaired it for several years. He has since served on the Select and Zoning Boards, and has been elected Town Moderator every year since 2004.

In November 2006 Will was elected to the Vermont Legislature (as an Independent, representing the Towns of Benson, Orwell, Shoreham, and Whiting) for the first of four two-year terms. He was on the House Agriculture and Forest Products Committee all eight years and served the last four as ranking member. He is especially proud of two programs that came out of his committee during that time: the Farm to Plate and Working Lands Initiatives.

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Spotlight on Gringo Jack’s

As we kick off our month-long Eat Local Challenge, we’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Gringo Jack’s! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off Gringo Jack’s full line of delicious local tortilla chips, salsas, and sauces this week, so it’s a great time to plan a localvore fiesta! Read on to learn more about Gringo Jack’s, their commitment to sourcing quality local ingredients, and their recently launched Chip In campaign.

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Our Mission

At Gringo Jack’s, we’re dedicated to producing handcrafted, flaky tortilla chips along with natural, vegetarian sauces and salsas – always successfully pre-tested in our own restaurant kitchen. We promise to always prepare each recipe in small batches, with only quality ingredients – no fillers or preservatives – giving the consumer the means to create a healthy, gourmet WOW without the extra work. We stand for taste, quality, and uniqueness, always.

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Who Are We

We’re just a bunch of gringos that found ourselves in Vermont. But we’re doing our flaky chips, sauces, and salsas better than anyone. Our spices, textures, and flavors will knock your socks off. And we’re doing it the all-natural way, without preservatives or ingredients you can’t pronounce. Just fresh and authentic ingredients for a fresh and authentic taste. Our Co-Founders are Jack Gilbert and Michele Kropp. Jack is an artist and restauranteur and it’s his belief that real flavor comes only from authentic, quality ingredients. Michelle is daughter and wife to two wonderful chefs, and good food is her true passion. Her commitment to real, minimally processed food ensures that Gringo Jack’s products are the very best!

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How Are We Different

How are we unique from the other wonderful, healthy products out there? First, we use local ingredients whenever possible. Here’s a list of some of the local farmers and producers from which our ingredients are sourced:

In addition to sourcing the best local ingredients whenever possible, we also make our products from scratch. Our BBQ sauces do not contain ketchup – rather, we make our own ketchup. Our chips are so unique with a light, flaky crunch and a hand dusting of spices. We also make all products in small batches to ensure quality in every bag and jar. Bottom line – it doesn’t get better or tastier than Gringo Jack’s!

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Our CHIP IN Campaign

Calling all Vermonters! We know you already support local and buy local, now you can invest local! CHIP IN is an investment campaign by Gringo Jack’s to expand our line of locally produced and sourced specialty food products. It is an opportunity for Vermonters to help grow local business and invest in the economy here at home.

The CHIP IN Campaign will raise capital to expand our product lines and distribution networks. It will also allow us to build new partnerships with local farms, producers and retail establishments, in addition to building a regional food system and more jobs in Vermont.

CHIP IN provides not only the potential for a return on investment, it also allows Vermonters to make a social investment that will help support and grow the local economy.

CHIP IN is made possible by the Vermont Small Business Offering (VSBO). VSBO is a new program that allows Vermonters to make small investments in local businesses and help grow the Vermont economy.

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
We need your help to make CHIP IN successful! Milk Money is the crowd-funding portal for CHIP IN and VSBO. Click here to learn more and INVEST LOCALLY.

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Co-op Connection Deals on Shoes & Apparel!

With back-to-school season looming large, perhaps the kids are asking for some new duds? And maybe those old, tired winter boots are no longer keeping the elements out? Or, maybe you’re in the market for a new pair of Carhartt’s or some Darn Tough socks?  It’s a perfect time to check out our Co-op Connection Business of the Month – Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel! Co-op member-owners can enjoy 10% off when they shop at Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel! Read on to learn more about this family-owned local business and the wide array of products they offer to keep you covered from head to toe.

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Here at Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel we believe that high-quality products and good service should also be affordable. That’s why we carry the brands you know and trust. We offer a wide variety of dress & casual shoes for the entire family. Sneakers by Asics, New Balance, & Saucony. Casual shoes by Merrell, Keen, Born, Haflinger, Sanita & Dansko clogs. We know which products run narrow or wide, which ones will break in and which ones hold their shape. Both quality and comfort are important to us. We’ll help you get the shoe that is right for you.

Our store is also chock full of fleece, jackets, hats, gloves, jeans, vests, and coats. We’ve got your favorite brands of casual clothing by Woolrich, Carhartt, & North River, and socks by Smartwool & Darn Tough. Our selection of Carhartt is one of the best in Vermont and if we don’t have your size in stock we are always happy to order it for you. Find out what the locals already know- Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel is their source for work wear, warm gear, and year-round comfortable clothing and footwear.

Our family-owned business has been serving our communities for over 12 years in Middlebury and 7 years in Bristol. We carry the items your family needs from head to toe!

We have two locations to serve you:

Middlebury- 260 Court St., Suite 4, near Hannaford.

Bristol – 1 Main St., in the heart of downtown.

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What’s Up With The Big Corn?

Perhaps you’ve been wondering why we have a gigantic wooden ear of corn at the store entry? We call it the Big Corn and it comes out every September during our Eat Local Challenge to help us track the amount of money paid to local farmers and producers throughout the month. Last year, thanks to your purchases of local products, we were able to pay over $346,000 to our local farmers and producers! Help us shatter that record this year by purchasing Vermont products all month long. You can track the progress on the Big Corn and help us reach our goal of $365,000 this year!

Why Buy Local?

1. Local Food Supports Local Farm Families.

Farmers are a vanishing breed, and it’s no surprise given that commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. When you purchase local produce from the Co-op, the farmer gets a larger share, which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.

2. Local Food Supports our Local Economy.

Over 60,000 Vermonters are directly employed in Vermont’s food system. Nearly 12,000 businesses are part of Vermont’s food system. When measured by employment and gross state product, food manufacturing is the second-largest manufacturing industry in Vermont.   Milk from Vermont’s dairy farms typically accounts for upwards of 70% of the state’s agricultural products sales, generating $2.2 billion in economic activity annually. A wide range of nondairy farms of all sizes also produce fruits and vegetables, livestock, hay, maple products, and specialty crops for local and regional markets. Vermont’s dynamic and evolving food system is also made up of entrepreneurs creating a variety of value-added products (e.g., cured meats, baked goods, beer, chocolate); thousands of market outlets; sophisticated distribution networks; and dozens of organizations, programs, and volunteer-driven activities that provide business planning, technical assistance, education, and outreach activities.

3. Local Food Builds Community.

When you buy local produce, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons and the miracle of raising food. In many cases, it gives you access to a farm where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture. Relationships built on understanding and trust can thrive.

4. Local Food Preserves Open Space.

As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you’re doing something proactive about preserving the agrarian landscape.

5. Local Food Keeps Your Taxes In Check.

Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes. On average, for every $1 in
revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue
raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend only 34 cents on services.

6. Local Food Supports a Clean Environment and Benefits Wildlife.

A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage could sequester 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry. In addition, the habitat of a farm – the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds, and buildings – is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife, including bluebirds, killdeer, herons, bats, and rabbits.

7. Local Food Preserves Genetic Diversity.

In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, tend to opt for more variety to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation because they taste good and are regionally adapted to our unique growing conditions here in Vermont. These heirloom varieties contain genetic material from hundreds or even thousands of years of human selection; they may someday provide the genes needed to create varieties that will thrive in a changing climate.

8. Locally grown food tastes better.

Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from
California, Florida, Chile, or Holland is, quite understandably, much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.

9. Local Produce is Better For You. 

Studies show that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some ‘fresh’ produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.

10. Local Food Is About The Future.

By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.

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