November 2016

Spotlight on Badger

Our Co-op Spotlight is shining brightly on Badger this week. This small, family-owned, family-run, and family-friendly company nestled in the woods of Gilsum, New Hampshire is beyond worthy of the spotlight. They help define what it means to be a socially responsible, environmentally responsible, people-first kind of business. They are featured in our Member Deals program this week, so all of their fabulous body care products are 20% for member-owners! Read on to learn about the ideals, principles, and practices that make their company worthy of such high praise!

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Badger was born in 1995 when founder Bill Whyte was working as a carpenter in the cold New Hampshire winters and created an amazing balm that helped soothe and heal his cracked hands. The company has since grown to over 100 products and 60 employees but “Badger Bill” still runs the show as CEO, along with his wife Katie (COO), and their two daughters Emily (VP Sales & Marketing), and Rebecca (VP of Innovation and Sustainability).

Badger Family
Badger Family

Quality Ingredients and Standards

Badger selects ingredients with great care, using only those that fit their rigorous natural standards for healthy agriculture, minimal processing, sustainable supply chain, and health-giving properties. Every ingredient they use is grown and processed with the highest degree of respect for protecting the environment, the workers and the natural properties of the plants. Nearly all of Badger’s products are made from 100% USDA Certified Organic food grade ingredients and they utilize as many fair trade certified ingredients as possible. You can view their impressive growing  and processing standards on their web page.

B Corp Status

In 2011, Badger became a certified B Corp. In 2015 they were recognized on the B Corps Best for the Environment list.  The list recognizes 116 businesses that earned an environmental score in the top 10% of more than 1,200 Certified B Corporations from over 120 industries on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, community, and the environment.

Badger facility & ecology center
Badger facility & gardens

Employee Care

Badger also recently won the Connect 2016 Philosophy Award for their accommodating employee benefits and exemplary work environment. They aim to be supportive of the new parents in their extended work family while considering the well-being of all employees and productivity in the workplace. With this in mind, their Babies At Work program brings together a policy that is best for baby, parent, and business. Most short-term disability benefits regarding pregnancies end after just six weeks, leaving the parent to find childcare as he or she returns to the workplace. Badger’s policy allows the parent to bring the child to the workplace until a specified time: in most cases until the baby is six months old or begins crawling.

Badger Mamas & Badger Babies
Badger Mamas & Badger Babies

This program makes breastfeeding easier and allows for the inherent health benefits for both mother and child: enhanced bonding, lessening of daycare costs and more financial stability, great social network and extended-family support for both parent and child, and an easier transition to off-site child care. Once children are ready for off-site care, they have the option of attending the Calendula Garden Children’s Center.  This option offers reasonably-priced, high quality, flexible childcare for children of Badger employees, as well as a limited number of children from the greater community. The center itself is located in the renovated house that was the former home to the Badger Company, a quarter of a mile down the road from the company’s current facility. Badger, in a sense, creates its own “village” to support both parent and child!

Calendula Garden Child Care Center
Calendula Garden Child Care Center

Another exemplary aspect of employee care is their free lunch program. This is a daily organic lunch served during a paid 30-minute break. Every day their fabulous cooks prepare a free, home-cooked lunch for all of the Badgers made from 100% organic and mostly local foods. During the summer months, much of the produce comes right from their Badger vegetable garden! Read more about Badger’s impressive employee benefits here.

Free organic lunch!
Free organic lunch!

Product Certifications

Badger believes that third-party certifications take the guesswork out of claims made on cosmetics and personal care items. This means that they adhere to the standards and guidelines of any third party agency certifying their products. Their products are certified organic by both the USDA and the NSF, many of the ingredients are Fair Trade certified, and all products are certified gluten-free and certified cruelty-free.

 

Check out this short video to hear from Badger Bill about the values that make his company unique:

 

Shop Small This Saturday!

You might be familiar with Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but nestled between these two frenzied shopping days, on Saturday, November 26th, is Small Business Saturday! This is a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all that they do for their communities. When you choose to shop at local, independent, family-owned stores, you’re keeping your hard-earned money circulating in your own community, supporting local families and local jobs. These shops are the backbone of our community and help keep our local economy vibrant & strong, so be sure to visit them this Saturday for your holiday shopping needs! Many will be offering special holiday sales as an added incentive to shop local on Saturday! Thanks to the fine folks at Cabot, we’ll be giving away free reusable shopping bags on Small Business Saturday, while supplies last!

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Need another incentive to shop small on Saturday? Co-op member-owners get special deals & discounts at 20 participating local businesses around town through the Co-op Connection! Looking for locally made, eco-friendly toys? Check out Maple Landmark! Do you have ornaments, jewelry, photo frames, or home decor on your list? Danforth Pewter has a beautiful selection! Maybe you’re looking for a ceramic tea set or packaged loose-leaf teas for the tea lover on your list? Look no further than Stone Leaf Teahouse! Is there a writer or artist in the family? Main Street Stationery has beautiful leather-bound journals and sketch pads! Does someone on your list need shoes, socks, or new winter duds? Check out Green Mountain Shoe & Apparel! Wild Mountain Thyme also offers a beautiful selection of apparel and accessories! And if it’s stocking stuffers you’re looking for, you won’t want to miss Middlebury Sweets! They have over 1,000 different confections including handmade chocolates, bulk candy, jelly beans, taffy, and so much more! This just barely scratches the surface of the many great gifts to be found at these 20 local businesses, so if you’d like to view the full list of participating businesses and see what deals they offer to Co-op Members, check out the Co-op Connection Brochure. 

Beyond the Co-op Connection businesses, our community is lucky to have a wide array of local, independently-owned bookstores, galleries, gift shops, chocolatiers, spas, boutiques, and eateries from which to buy a gift or gift card. When you’re scanning that holiday gift list – think local and think small!

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Something To Be Thankful For!

With the season of thankfulness upon us, we’re feeling overwhelmed with gratitude to see our Co-op so well supported by its member-owners! Our Member Loan Drive has surpassed the $900,000 mark and inching ever closer to our million-dollar goal!! WOW!!

Our December 1st deadline is fast approaching, so if you’ve been considering a loan to the Co-op, now’s the time! If you’ve already made a pledge, now’s the time to mail in or drop off your paper work and check to get in on the action. Help bring us home for Thanksgiving!

Do you have questions about the Member Loan Drive? Please don’t hesitate to reach out! We’d love to hear from you! You can stop by, call us at 388-7276, or email our Member Loan Drive Coordinator, John, at jbbarstow@gmail.com. You can also click here to view the brochure with basic information about this project.

Want to check out the latest expansion plans? Click here!

Thank you for your time and consideration. We hope you’ll join us as we grow together!

Cooperatively AND Gratefully,

Glenn Lower, General Manager

Spotlight on Lake Champlain Chocolates

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight this week on a local favorite – Lake Champlain Chocolates! All of their mouth-watering chocolates are 20% off for member-owners this week, so it’s a great time to stock up on stocking stuffers. Read on to learn more about this local confectionery that has called Vermont home since 1983:

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According to the folks at Lake Champlain Chocolates, Vermont is more than an address; it’s home. It’s where they live, who they are, and how they choose to do business.  And from the first truffle in 1983 to the present day, Vermont has inspired the folks at Lake Champlain Chocolates to take a craftsman’s approach to chocolate: creativity, patience, and mastery.

What began as a truffle-making venture has now grown to include a long list of tasty treats from fudge to sea salted caramels and beyond. And with each new product, their original commitment to excellence has remained the same. They have remained true to their mission of seeking out the best and freshest ingredients from local farmers and producers and they’ve been doing it that way long before it was cool.  Call it Vermont instinct, but even back in ’83, it just made sense that using local honey, maple syrup, and fresh cream in their Chocolates of Vermont would result in superior flavor. Those same instincts also guided the decision to never add preservatives, extenders, or additives to any of their chocolates.

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Fair Trade:

Beyond labeling individual products as “fair trade” — an ongoing process in itself — the entire company is now certified Fair for Life.  Fair for Life is a rigorous third-party certification for social accountability and fair trade. Above and beyond fair trade certification, it looks at a company’s practices as a whole, including the ingredients used in its products. LCC undergoes regular audits to ensure every step of its supply chain is socially legit. Not just the cocoa, but every link they have as a business, including their own employees’ working conditions here in Vermont.

Why? Because of their belief that every person in the process should be treated and compensated fairly. And that means everyone in the supply chain — from the farmers who grow and harvest the cocoa, to those who transport it, transform it into chocolate, process your order, package it, and ensure it arrives ready for you to enjoy.

This certification affirms the following:

  • A price premium is paid to the cocoa farmers and co-ops.
  • Certified products originate from fair trade producer operations.
  • LCC is engaged in long-term partnerships and socially responsible trading practices with its suppliers/purveyors.
  • LCC respects the labor rights of its own employees, providing good working conditions.
  • LCC is a good community citizen and practices environmental responsibility.
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Blue Bandana Bean-To-Bar:

Blue Bandana is an award-winning line of single-origin craft chocolate bars launched in 2012 by Eric Lampman, head of R&D at Lake Champlain Chocolates and son of founder Jim Lampman. Born from a desire to go deeper into the chocolate-making process, the micro-batch chocolate bars are produced in Vermont using cocoa beans sourced directly from their origin.

With the Blue Bandana line, they’re following a “direct trade” model. As the name implies, there’s no middleman, so the supply chain is that much shorter. This allows them to build one-on-one relationships with farmers and sponsor local initiatives in the communities where the cacao is grown. There’s a direct feedback loop with growers and co-ops, and that makes a huge difference in the quality of the end product.

For LCC as a whole, fair trade still offers the best solution. Going 100% direct trade company-wide would be a real challenge, for a few reasons — sheer quantity, for starters. Bottom line, fair trade and direct trade are both valid ways to do the right thing, make sure farmers get a fair shake, and get to know your supply chain.

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Uncompromising Quality:

All of the products at Lake Champlain Chocolates are certified Kosher with zero additives or shelf extenders and the goal is to use non-GMO ingredients whenever possible. Of course, their certified organic chocolates are 100% GMO-free as guaranteed by the organic certification.

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Factory Tours:

Want to see how their chocolates are made? Take a FREE Factory Tour!

Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm
Tours on the hour
Self-Guided Tours after 3pm

FREE Chocolate Tastings
Saturday & Sunday, 11am to 4pm

750 Pine Street Burlington, VT
CALL: 802-864-1807

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Looking for Ways to Save This Holiday Season? Shop Co-op Basics!

Co+op Basics offers everyday low prices on hundreds of popular grocery and household items. From milk and bread to laundry soap and paper towels, you’ll find brands you know and trust at prices you can afford.  There are hundreds of items in Co-op Basics, and here are just a few to help you get ready for the Holiday Season!

For Your Serious Cooking:

  • Field Day Organic Chicken Broth – $2.29 ea
  • Organic Thompson Raisins – $3.59 lb
  • Rolled Oats – $.89 lb

 

For Your Last Minute Entertaining:

  • Fair Trade Co-op Owned La Riojana Wines – $5.99 ea
  • Organic Field Day Crackers – $2.69 ea
  • Local Co-op Owned Cabot Cheddar Cheese 8 oz Blocks – $3.29 ea

 

Remember, this is just a small sampling of Co-op Basics.   Just look for this sign to find your way to everyday low prices at your Co-op!

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Spotlight on Elmer Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Elmer Farm this week to celebrate this 90-acre organic farm and the farmers who give life to it. Member-owners can enjoy 20% their glorious spread of organic vegetables this week. Read on to learn more about the history and heritage of this farm, which has been providing food for its community since the early 1800’s!

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Driving into East Middlebury on Route 116, it’s hard to miss the beautiful patch of flowers bording the white farmouse at the entryway to Elmer Farm. What you might not see from the road are the amazing fields of vegetables that are grown on this fertile, organic soil. Elmer Farm is a conserved 90-acre farm where Spencer & Jennifer Blackwell grow 25 acres of mixed vegetables, grains, and dry beans, all of which are certified organic. Annual inspections and certification by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) ensure that the crops are grown responsibly and safely without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.

The farm belonged to the Elmer family since the early 1800’s and has a long heritage of providing food for its community. The receding glaciers bestowed the farm with a wonderful mix of fertile soils and sandy loam, perfectly suited to growing vegetables and grains. More than 35 different vegetables are grown on the farm, plus an impressive array of flowers and culinary herbs. This inlcudes over 200 different varieties, including many heirlooms.

Spencer and Jennifer Blackwell, along with their children, Ida & Angus, and their hard-working crew of farmhands are proud to grow vegetables for their community, neighbors, and friends in Addison County. They value hard work and the agrarian quality of life. They are committed to our community through various farm-to-school efforts as well as gleaning for local food agencies. In fact, Spencer helped spearhead the Local Food Access Program at HOPE. A number of years ago, representatives from HOPE, Middlebury College, ACORN,  and the local business community, along with several local farmers, including Spencer from Elmer Farm and Will Stevens of Golden Russet Farm, got together to discuss the possibility of increasing the amount of locally grown food offered at HOPE’s food shelf. This group recognized that Addison County farmers grow vast amounts of beautiful, healthy organic fruits and vegetables, which are often unavailable or too pricey to those who need it most. They also recognized that these farms often had excess produce available that would not be destined for retail markets, which could instead be diverted to the food shelf.

Fast-forward to present day, and the idea hatched by this group has evolved into an incredibly successful program that is bringing thousands of pounds of healthy, local foods to those in our community who need it most and diverting a lot of food from the waste stream. By the end of 2015, more than 10,797 pounds of surplus produce had been donated by Elmer Farm, along with many other local farms. This requires a monumental and tireless effort on the part of the farmers and a heck of a lot of coordinating and processing effort from HOPEs Local Food Access Coordinator, Lily Bradburn.

At the Co-op, you can find Elmer Farm’s organic cabbage, red & yellow onions, butternut squash, baby bok choy, radishes, leeks, scallions, kale, chard, and their famous carrots! You can also subscribe to their CSA, where you will receive fresh vegetables, flowers and herbs each week from mid-June through the end of October for a total of 20 weeks. Also be sure to check out the recipes on their web page!

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So Close! Help Us Reach The Finish Line!

Election Day has come and gone, but we’re reaching out to remind you of another democratic institution right here in your community- your Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op! And at the co-op your vote really matters, regardless of your party or beliefs. As a different kind of business, we ascribe to cooperative principles and values and we use our profits to serve our members and community. But this also means when it’s time to change and grow, we rely on help from our member-owners. That is why we are asking you to participate in our Member Loan Campaign!

We are already more than three-quarters of the way to our goal of raising $1,000,000 by December 1st and we’d love to keep the momentum going! If you have already made a loan, THANK YOU!!! If you haven’t, we invite you to check out the brochure by clicking here and consider helping us reach our goal. Have questions? Let us know! Give us a call at 388-7276, or email Loan Coordinator John Barstow at jbbarstow@gmail.com. We’d love to offer additional information and help guide you through this simple process.

Want to check out the latest expansion plans? Click here!

Thank you so much for your support! It means the world to us!!

It’s YOUR Co-op – own it!!

 

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Round Up at the Registers for the Food Shelves 11/10-11/16!

Our Annual Rally for Change for local food shelves, CVOEO and HOPE starts on November 10th!  Just round up your total (or feel free to give more!) at the registers between 11/10 and 11/16 and the Co-op will match your donation!  What an easy way to do good this holiday season!

Hunger is not just an issue on the other side of the world.  Food insecurity is right at home in Vermont, and no one works on the front lines to combat this in Addison County like our two local food shelves – CVOEO and HOPE.    These two organizations spend a lot of their resources trying to get food to hungry Vermonters, but that’s not the whole story.  Want to know more?  Read on, to here about them, in their own words:

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Linda Tirado knows poverty first hand. She has lived in it for the majority of her adult life. She also knows what it is to live in the middle class. In her book, Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap  America, she gives a definition of poverty that puts our world in perspective. “Poverty is when a quarter is a miracle. Poor is when a dollar is a miracle.  Broke is when five bucks is a miracle. Wor-
king class is being broke, but doing so in a place that might not be run down. Middle class is being able to own some toys and live in a nice place – and by ”nice” I don’t mean fancy.”

In Addison County: 1 in 5 children and youth know hunger; over 3,500 residents participate in the 3Squares VT program; there are 26 summer meal sites; and 10 senior meal sites server older citizens several times a week, all summer long.  Last summer, between May 1st and August 30th, CVOEO’s Food Shelf in Middlebury served 1,299 individuals. 342 of this number were under the age of 18, and 209 were seniors. Individuals and families come from towns throughout Addison County.

Donna Rose is the Food Shelf Coordinator.  We are located at 54 Creek Road in Middlebury. CVOEO is a nonprofit corporation, formed in 1965 to carry out the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in Addison, Chittenden, Franklin and Grand Isle counties. CVOEO is one of five Community Action Agencies in Vermont. Its mission is to address fundamental issues of economic, social and racial justice.  It works with people to achieve economic independence, bridge gaps and build futures.  For more information, go to  https://www.cvoeo.org/

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HOPE is a private, locally governed organization that has been alleviating the distress of poverty in Addison County for over 50 years by providing a broad range of individualized services &  opportunities. HOPE’s staff members don’t say “this is what we can do”, rather they ask “what do you need?” HOPE fills in the gaps left by government programs, including help with heating & housing, medicines, job-related needs & more. They provide assistance to homeless persons, including those with significant housing barriers such as severe mental illness & substance abuse disorders.

HOPE offers healthy holiday meal baskets, and in the the HOPE Holiday Shop, low-income parents can select, free of charge, new clothing, toys and books for their children.

HOPE runs the largest food shelf in Addison County, serving an average of 600 people each month. Last year, they provided food to 6,248 people, including 481 senior citizens and 1,659 children. In 2015, they provided food for over 61,000 meals, distributed 10,797 pounds of local farm produce, & provided nearly 400 holiday meal boxes. This year they are on track to exceed their 2015 numbers.

HOPE’s Local Food Access Coordinator, Lily Bradburn, has been working with local farmers, picking up donated produce, leading crews to glean food in the fields, & purchasing crops for winter storage. Volunteers are needed to glean,  process and cook food. For more information or to volunteer, call 802-388-3608. HOPE is located at 282 Boardman St., behind Homeward Bound.  For more information, please go to http://www.hope-vt.org/

Thank you Empty Bowl Dinner Participants! We raised $2,500 for Local Food Shelves!

We just wanted to extend a big THANK YOU to all of the folks who made our 25th Empty Bowl Dinner such a success.  With your help, we raised $2,500 for local food shelves, CVOEO and HOPE!

Before the dinner, we had the pleasure of listening to presentations from Donna Rose of CVOEO and Lily Bradburn of HOPE, updating us on the state of food insecurity in Vermont.  They were pleased to inform us that this is the first year in a really long time that food insecurity in Vermont has actually decreased a bit.  We owe so much of that success to the hard work of organizations like these, and to the generous donors, like you, who help to keep them afloat.

We’d also like to extend an extra special thank you to our Sponsors:

Middlebury United Methodist Church

Red Hen Baking Company

Otter Creek Bakery

Champlain Orchard

Golden Russet Farm

Elmer Farm

Middlebury Bagel and Deli

Four Pillars Farm

Middlebury Studio School

North Branch School

Fred Barnes

And of course, a HUGE Thank you to our Volunteers!  Without your hard work moving furniture and decorating, cooking soups and dessert, cleaning and serving, this event would not be possible!

Here are a few great shots of the night!

Fred at the piano!
Fred at the piano!
Beautiful Bowls from Local Potters!
Beautiful Bowls from Local Potters!
Succulent Salad!
Succulent Salad!
Inspiring Artwork From North Branch School!
Inspiring Artwork From North Branch School!
Awesome Volunteers!
Awesome Volunteers!
Soups Ready to Serve!
Soups Ready to Serve!

 

The Vermont Farmer Veteran Coalition

In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to shed some light on an amazing project that is cultivating a new generation of farmers and food leaders through the collaboration of the farming and military communities. The Farmer Veteran Coalition was founded in 2007 based on the recognition that ever increasing numbers of those enlisted in the US military had their roots in rural America and would be returning in large numbers to small towns across the country, far from the services available to veterans in more populous areas. The idea of opening up our nations’ farms – and all of the beauty and peace and opportunity that they provide – to those returning from war seemed like a captivating prospect. The founders felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to create an organization capable of doing everything it could to serve this important sector of veterans that remained overlooked by most urban-based veteran organizations.

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Impact

Since 2009, over 8,000 veterans have become farmers across the country, thanks to an array of educational opportunities in the form of internships, apprenticeships, and other training programs aimed to help veterans build the skills needed for a career in farming. They also offer extensive business resources to budding veteran farmers looking to find land, finance their farm, create business plans & crop plans, develop marketing strategies, and comply with food safety regulations. Additionally, the Farmer Veteran Coalition has awarded more than $1,000,000 to veterans in agricultural grants and farm support through the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund.

A Local Chapter is Born

In 2015, local farmer & veteran Jon Turner of Wild Roots Farm in Bristol helped found a Vermont chapter of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Jon served in the Marines from 2003 – 2007, including 2 deployments to Iraq and 1 to Haiti. When Jon left the military, he was troubled by the lack of support for integration back to civilian life. He connected the huge coming need for farmers with the large population of veterans who are returning from combat. Jon believed that this population, which includes over 2 million troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, could benefit from the restorative benefits of farming, and his hope is to provide hands-on training to these veterans so they can fill this need while also finding purpose and community in their new lives.

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Wild Roots Farm is an educational operation nestled in the foothills of the Bristol Cliffs with a focus on forest farming and regenerative practices. Jon owns and operates the farm with his wife and their mission is to teach methods of growing and raising food in “unsuitable” farm conditions while maintaining, if not improving, bio-diversity. Their farm offers eggs, vegetables, and mushrooms, along with kids camps and workshops for all ages on topics such as soil building, pruning, mushroom cultivation, forest farming, and regenerative agriculture. These workshops are open to veterans and non-veterans, alike, as Jon believes in the importance of helping veterans reintegrate into their communities. He’s a firm believer in the peace and therapy that come from reconnecting with nature, working with the soil, and interacting with fellow community members.

 

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Homegrown By Heroes

Homegrown By Heroes (HBH) is the official Farmer Veteran Branding Program of America. The HBH logo serves to inform consumers that products donning the logo were produced by military veterans. The program is available to farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and value-added producers of all branches and eras of military service. Wild Roots Farm in Bristol proudly offers their eggs, vegetables, and mushrooms under the Homegrown By Heroes label.

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Guiding Principles of the Farmer Veteran Coalition

  • GUIDE the passion of our veterans so that they may earn for themselves a meaningful, financially sustainable place in the agricultural community. This could entail full-time or part-time employment or a critical supplement to disability-related income.
  • BELIEVE in the meritocracy of American agriculture, where personal responsibility for one’s actions and individual initiative in pursuit of one’s goals can create personal success. We believe in the fundamental dignity of physical work.
  • ACKNOWLEDGE the plurality of agricultural crops, practices, scale and markets available to our veterans. We honor, guide, and support the practical farming path chosen by each veteran.
  • COMMITTED to leveraging our work through a network of partnerships. This allows us to more effectively help a larger number of veterans, particularly those in the onset of their civilian careers.
  • SUPPORT all valid national, regional, or crop-specific efforts to connect veterans with agriculture and encourage collaboration instead of competition with other groups providing services to our nation’s veterans.
  • SPONSOR and encourage both employment and self-employment in agriculture, and equally value the contributions made by all members of the agricultural industry who feed America. We recognize the range of opportunities for employment throughout the agricultural economy.
  • RESPECT the privacy of our veterans, and we will assist when we can to get them the support that will help make them stronger farmers. We support and treat the whole veteran. We are aware of the high number of veterans that return with both visible and invisible wounds.
  • RECOGNIZE the geographic and psychological isolation common to both farmers and veterans. Creating contact between our farmer veterans and a sense of community amongst them is an important part of our mission.

Want to learn more about the Farmer Veteran Coalition? Visit their website by clicking here. 

Interested in donating to the Farmer Veteran Coalition? Click here.

Interested in checking out events and happenings at Wild Roots Farm? Visit their Facebook page here.

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