January 2017

Solar in the Winter? Heck Yeah!

Go Solar with SunCommon and Get a FREE $200 gift card to the Middlebury Naturals Food Co-op!

The Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op is excited to announce a limited-time offer with SunCommon, Vermont’s local solar company.  Now you are able to support renewable energy AND your local food co-op at the same time!


What: Get a gift card for $200 to the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op when you go solar with SunCommon between Feb 1 and March 31, 2017.


  1. Sign up with SunCommon for a free solar home visit at suncommon.com/co-op or call 882-8181
  2. Hand this coupon to your Solar Home Advisor when you sign a solar home agreement with SunCommon
  3. Your gift card will be mailed to you

Enjoy: Spend your gift card at the co-op!










SunCommon makes going solar easy and affordable.  Local energy, local food. What could be better?

For more information, contact Ellen at SunCommon: 798-2648 or ellen@suncommon.com


Co-ops Commit to a Sustainable Future

One of the many cool things about co-ops is that we like to work together. We collectively recognize that cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures. It’s one of the Seven Cooperative Principles that help guide and unify cooperatives of all kinds around the world.

One of the ways that our Co-op connects with other food co-ops in our region to share ideas and inspiration is through the Neighboring Food Cooperative Association (NFCA). The NFCA is a cooperative federation bringing together over 30 food co-ops and start-up initiatives across New England that are working together toward a shared vision of a thriving cooperative economy, rooted in a healthy, just, and sustainable regional food system and a vibrant community of co-operative enterprise. NFCA Executive Director Erbin Crowell recently shared with us the following message about an exciting initiative dubbed Co-ops for 2030 that is bringing together co-ops across the globe committed to building a more sustainable world through the adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We are so excited about this project, we wanted to share it with you:

As we enter the New Year, it may be easy to feel disheartened. But there is work to do, and co-ops can help.

2016 saw global temperatures that were the hottest on record, a steadily widening gap in wealth and opportunity, and electoral processes that have drifted far from our ideals of democracy, diversity, and dialog.

In this context, the continuing engagement of the co-operative movement in building a better world has been inspiring. At the International Summit of Co-operatives in Quebec last Fall, for example, delegates approved a declaration, “Co-operatives: The Power to Act,” calling on co-ops around the world to commit to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Approved in 2015, the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes seventeen goals that recognize that sustainability is not simply a matter of conserving resources but includes other priorities including the elimination of poverty, gender equality, and reducing wealth disparities.

“The co-operative model is now, more than ever, the answer the world needs to address the challenges it faces and to take advantage of the opportunities that arise,” states the Summit Declaration. “By committing to the Sustainable Development Goals in a measurable way and adopting growth objectives for 2030, the global co-operative movement is putting forward its collective expertise and its power to act.”

As member-owned enterprises driven by a distinct set of values and principles, co-ops combine both social and economic purposes. Our engagement in the Sustainable Development Goals is an opportunity to engage members in a positive vision for the future, and support shared business success by communicating our difference to consumers, activists, and policymakers. From energy conservation to clean power, good jobs to sustainable business, local economics to co-op to co-op trade, honoring diversity to Healthy Food Access and community empowerment, our Neighboring Food Co-ops have much to offer and much to gain from engagement in this effort to build a better world.

In support of this effort, the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) has launched the Co-ops for 2030 campaign, which includes a website where co-ops can learn more about the SDGs, pledge their commitment to specific sustainability goals, and see what other co-ops are doing.

Erbin Crowell, Executive Director
Neighboring Food Co-op Association

Spotlight on Spectrum

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Spectrum this week and all of their products are 20% off for member-owners! Read on to find out more about what makes Spectrum shine.

Spectrum Naturals

The Spectrum Naturals brand started over twenty years ago with the purpose of making a variety of oils available to the American public. Their line of culinary oils and vinegars includes more than 30 varieties of seed, nut and plant oils including coconut oil, as well as a variety of vinegars, mayonnaise products, cooking sprays and non-hydrogenated shortening, many of which are organic and/or non-GMO verified. Gourmet food lovers will find extra virgin olive oils from Spain, Italy and Tunisia, each estate-grown and produced in small batches.

Spectrum Essentials

Spectrum Essentials refers to the company’s line of dietary supplements aimed at supporting good health by providing essential fatty acids (EFAs) like Omega-3, Omega-6, Vitamin D and other vital nutrients. The Spectrum Essentials line offered at the Co-op features flaxseed oils & fish oils.  They use the highest quality raw ingredients that deliver nature’s essential health benefits and offer supplements for every day for every life stage.

American Masters of Taste

The Spectrum Naturals line of culinary oils are recommended for chefs by chefs and have been endorsed by The American Masters of Taste. A national panel of executive chefs evaluates each product based on many attributes such as taste, appearance, character, and flavor. The following Spectrum Naturals products have been awarded the seal:

  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Unrefined
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Organic Extra Virgin Mediterranean Olive Oil
  • Organic Canola Oil
  • High Heat Safflower Oil
  • Organic All Vegetable Shortening

Click here to check out delicious recipes and suggested uses for Spectrum products!

Spotlight on Garden of Life

We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Garden of Life ! Their entire line of products are 30% off for member-owners this week, so if your New Year’s resolution involved boosting your wellness routine, it’s a great time to give them a try! Read on to learn more about their mission to empower extraordinary health!

The Science of Whole Food

Garden of Life is fanatical about food. This may not be the first thing that typically comes to mind for a company that makes vitamins, probiotics, and protein powders, but Garden of Life is different that way. When they set out to create a line of products, they challenged themselves to consider what “good stuff” present in the highest quality foods are typically missing in our diets. Which of these foods have the greatest potential to impact and empower extraordinary health?

Clean is Healthy

As fanatical as they are about what goes into their products, they are equally diligent about what to keep out of them.  This means no synthetic chemicals, no GMOs, just true, whole, traceable ingredients. If it’s not found in real food, they don’t want it in their supplements. Their philosophy is to slow it down, make it by hand, grow it in rich organic non-GMO soil with enough sun, air, water and time for it to be its best. Harvest it when ready. Treat it with care. Turn it into a power-packed nutritious food supplement.

The Lebaron Farm in Utah grows, harvests, juices, and dries the greens for the Perfect Food Raw products.


Garden of Life aims for their product ingredients to be traceable all the way back to the seed. This means knowing where each and every one of their products comes from, how it’s grown, where it’s grown, and by whom. They believe in having strong personal relationships with their growers and ensuring that the farmers and farm workers that grow the products are well compensated and well cared for. Click here to read all about the farms that grow ingredients for Garden of Life products.

Fourth-generation family farmers growing organic cranberries in Massachusetts for Garden of Life


There is a great deal of noise in the marketplace today that makes it difficult to find the clean truth. Independent, unbiased, third-party certification and verification provides the best option for that assurance. However, to attain Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified status, every ingredient must be traced back to its origin, which means tracing back to organic crops and family farms and also how and where it’s manufactured. Developing a fully traceable raw material supply chain is a massive, complex undertaking—especially considering some formulas could have over 100 different ingredients!

It’s no easy task, but it’s totally worth it. Garden of Life is committed to producing Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified supplements. They also use unbiased third parties such as Vegan.org, NSF, Kosher and Informed-Choice whenever possible.


Garden of Life is also a Certified B Corps! They are deeply committed to energy efficient and sustainable practices including LEED Gold Certified facilities, use of renewable energy, recycled bottles, recyclable packaging, and soy-based inks. Click here to read more about the sustainability initiatives at Garden of Life.

NOFA-VT Winter Conference Announces Exciting Lineup!

Going Beyond Borders for our Winter Conference

By Helen Whybrow, Roving Farm & Food Reporter

Our brave little state has been through a lot: a 2016 winter of no snow, followed by this summer’s drought, an election season full of strife, and now with a new President, worlds of uncertainty about what’s to come. It can be easy, in the dark days of winter, to wonder about the larger purpose of one’s efforts on the farm or in the world.

Thankfully, NOFA-VT has attracted two international giants in the food and farming world to speak at the 35th annual winter conference on February 18-20 at University of Vermont. Dr. Fernando Funes Monzote, of Cuba, and Dr. Vandana Shiva, of India, will both bring a message of resilience, hope, and the power of people to make slow—but radical—change.

NOFA-VT has not typically looked so far beyond its borders for a relevant message. The winter conferences of years past have focused on themes such as local food and soil. But Executive Director Enid Wonnacott and board member Mimi Arnstein—who leads farmer-to-farmer exchanges in Cuba and elsewhere —felt the time was ripe to break open the boundaries of how we think about the impact of our local food movement in Vermont.

For Wonnacott, inspiration came at the Terra Madre International Slow Food Conference in Turin, Italy, where the slogan was “They are Giants, But We are Millions.” The faces of the “Millions” of small-scale farmers from around the globe were represented by some 7,000 delegates at Terra Madre as they came together to raise a collective voice against the corporate “Giants” – for food sovereignty, the survival of family farms, and resistance to GMOs.

I asked Wonnacott how she saw Vermont agriculture fitting into such a global people’s food movement. “NOFA-VT has always had a social change agenda, and at Terra Madre, I really saw the power of this idea that all small-scale farmers around the world are in this together,” she said. She noted that there are big similarities between how we farm and market food here in Vermont with indigenous and local food systems all over the world. Not only that, but the same challenges to seed sovereignty, land protection, and market control are remarkably similar.

NOFA-VT was instrumental in Vermont’s own fight to pass a GMO labeling bill—the first in the country. Although the bill was ultimately gutted at the federal level, a lot of good came out of it, with several major food brands agreeing to label their products. “The GMO labeling law is a great example of how Vermont is an innovator,” Wonnacott said. “It’s a small place full of people who care can start big change.”

Dr. Vandana Shiva is perhaps best known for her tireless crusade on behalf of seed sovereignty and against GMOs, a message she has delivered for over three decades. Bill Moyers called her “the rock star in the worldwide battle against genetically modified seeds.” She started her center for seed sovereignty Navdanya (“nine seeds” in Hindi) to “protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seed, and to promote organic farming and fair trade.”

Personally, hearing Dr. Shiva will be a highlight of my year. It’s hard to think of anyone who has more presence, conviction, and boldness when it comes to speaking out for what she believes in.

Dr. Shiva came to Vermont two years ago and gave a talk, co-sponsored by NOFA-VT, at City Hall in Burlington and at The Vermont Law School. She gave a bow to Vermont’s efforts to resist GMOs: “By demanding a right to know, you are demanding a right to live,” she said. Such a bold, clear statement is typical of Dr. Shiva; she is capable of throwing a net over freedom, democracy, civil rights, food, soil and the future of the planet in one sentence, showing me how they are all connected, and convincing me that it’s possible to fight for them all at once.

Equally inspirational as a speaker and global in his thinking is Dr. Fernando Funes Monzote, an agronomist, and farmer from Cuba where he is building a food revolution from his bio-intensive 20-acre model farm, Finca Marta. Now, when Cuba is undergoing such change and trade channels have opened up with the U.S, it will be prescient to have Funes give us his perspective.

Margarita Fernandez, who runs the Vermont Carribean Institute in Burlington, takes groups of people to Cuba several times a year. Whenever possible, she includes a visit to Finca Marta, “a huge highlight.” She describes Funes as “an incredible storyteller, whose whole life has a great arc to it.” Funes often tells the story about his journey back to the land in Cuba after getting a doctorate in agroecology in Europe, and how he was determined that his next life project was to earn a PhD as a farmer, to put into practice what he had learned in theory.

That practice began by digging a well—by hand. Now, with its acres of terraced beds, beehives, living fences, solar irrigation systems, a methane biodigester, and organic practices, Finca Marta is a model of how small farms can use natural resources and innovative production methods to be profitable, pay living wages, keep families and neighbors on the land, and also improve fertility and biodiversity of natural habitats.

“If we don’t want foreign companies to come in and dominate Cuban agriculture all over again, that means we need to give Cuban families a way to stay on their farms,” said Funes, as quoted in a profile by Nick Miroff of the Washington Post. The article points out that Cuba has to import 60 to 80 percent of its food. “Funes’ vision of Cuban agriculture is radical because it’s a throwback. He advocates smart, resource-efficient, artisanal farming as an alternative to both capitalist agribusiness and the disastrous state-run agricultural model…,” wrote Miroff. Sounds like Vermont, and in fact, there are lots of similarities between the way Funes farms and the way many of us farm here.

“Fernando is a super motivational speaker,” says Fernandez. “I’m really interested to watch how the farming movement in Cuba is going to respond to and resist current forces. As they enter the global food movement, how do they maintain sovereignty?” This is a theme that Vermont farmers also care about. “He will be able to talk about the context of what we are facing now as farmers,” she said, pointing out that with the death of Fidel Castro and the election of Donald Trump we are all working in a new and unknown political landscape.

The winter conference this year is embracing a huge global theme of change and resistance at a time when populist movements and corporate power are both surging. We need more than ever to come together, be in relationship, and find our common strength as a community. “People need something positive to believe in. They feel like the world is out of control and they need something to rally around,” said Wonnacott. At the NOFA-VT winter conference this year, we should get an incredible taste of what that something is.

Conference Details

The NOFA-VT Winter Conference offers more than 100 workshops for farmers, gardeners, and local food enthusiasts. Some of the most anticipated workshops include: “Herbal Digestive Bitters” taught by Guido Masé of Urban Moonshine, “New Developments in Study and Implementation of Northeastern Indigenous Agriculture” presented by Frederick Wiseman of The Seeds of Renewal Project, “Plants to Attract Pollinators and Create Biodiversity” presented by Lizabeth Moniz, and “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Fruit Trees” taught by Nicko Rubin.

There are also 5 day-long intensive workshops, diving deeply into the topics of winter farming and season extension, biological orcharding, healthy permaculture, organic medicinal herb production, and the art and science of grazing. The intensives are open to anyone interested in garnering in-depth information about specific subjects.

In addition to the speeches and workshops, attendees at the conference can enjoy a delicious lunch featuring local and organic ingredients, a lively Exhibitors’ Fair, a seed swap with High Mowing organic seeds, and helping to create a community art project with artist Bonnie Acker.  For the next generation of farmers, gardeners, and foodies there is a Children’s Conference, which features hands-on workshops, art projects, yoga, outdoor play and much more.

Early registration for the conference is offered at a discounted rate until February 13th, with additional discounts for NOFA Vermont members and volunteers. More information and online registration is at http://nofavt.org/conference.



B the Change!

January is B-Corps month, and we’re excited to help spread the word about this global movement of people using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems!

So, what is B Corps?

B Corps is all about people using business as a force for good. You might say that B Corps is to sustainable business what LEED certification is to green building. To earn a B Corps certification, companies must pass a rigorous review by the non-profit B Lab, which verifies that a company is meeting the most rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Over 2,000 companies in 50 countries have been certified thus far, and all company ratings and impact reports can be found at bcorporation.net

Does the Co-op Sell B Corps Products?

Yes, we do! Many of your favorite brands at the Co-op are sporting B Corps Certifications. Just look for the B Corps logo!

Here are just a few of the many B Corps Certified brands that you can find at the Co-op:

Spotlight on Stonyfield

We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Stonyfield this week to highlight their commitment to organic dairy, the family farmers that make it possible, and the Earth that sustains us. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of organic dairy products this week! Read on to learn more about Stonyfield’s history and a few of their impressive initiatives to help support farmers and the environment.


While Stonyfield is best known for making yogurt, yogurt wasn’t the way the founders of Stonyfield thought they’d change the world. In 1983, Stonyfield co-founders Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg were simply trying to help family farms survive, protect the environment, and keep food and food production healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school.

Just to keep things running, the duo started putting their farm’s seven cows to work making yogurt. They knew they were making healthy food grown with care; what they didn’t expect was how much people would love it.

People went crazy for the yogurt from Samuel and Gary’s little farm school, and the two knew they had found a way to make a real difference. With this yogurt business, the two organic farming teachers could show the whole world that a company could make healthy, delicious food without relying on toxic chemicals that harm the environment and public health.

So, the two went all-in on yogurt and, over 30 years later, they remain steadfast in their mission. They’re still headquartered in New Hampshire, just 30 miles east of the old farm where it all began.

Organic Commitment

Stonyfield’s products are all 100% certified organic – made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs.  In one year alone, their organic ingredient purchases keep more than 185,000 pounds of toxic persistent pesticides from the air, water, and land! WOW!


Supporting Farmers & Caring for the Planet

Stonyfield believes in the importance of supporting family farms and taking care of the world around us. They consider the impact of everything they do–from the plant-based packaging to the quality of the ingredients, to how their products are made, and finally, how it gets to you.

When they learned that the organic farmers cooperative from which they source their bananas was having to endure significant hardships and loss to get the bananas to a processing facility, they knew they needed to step up. Transporting the bananas to the nearest 3rd-party processing plant required farmers to transport their crops on their backs, then by boat, and then by truck to get there. Even under the best conditions, the trip takes many hours and is often fraught with hazard. In the end, up to 40% of the fruit is either lost on the journey or left to rot on the trees. Given the challenges of processing at such a remote facility, there’s little incentive for farmers to fully harvest available fruit or invest in their farms. Upon learning this, Stonyfield invested in a processing plant that is completely owned and operated by the AAPTA growers cooperative, allowing them to cut waste, improve efficiencies and stabilize their income. How cool is that?! Click here to read more about it!


Stonyfield is also helping to jumpstart the next generation of organic farmers. They recognized that the population of organic dairy farmers is aging, and very few people are lining up to take their places as they retire. They decided to play a central role in sustaining and rebuilding organic dairy in America through a groundbreaking training program for organic dairy farmers. In the program, aspiring organic dairy farmers spend two years at Wolfe’s Neck Farm on the coast of Maine. Living on site, they receive intensive training in organic farm and pasture management, animal health and comfort, and business planning. At the end, they pitch their farm business plan to potential investors before setting out on their own. The first group of trainees started in June of 2015. Stonyfield will be following this first batch of farmers on their blog as they move through the program, so stay tuned!


Click HERE to read more about Stonyfield’s sustainability initiatives.

Click HERE for tasty recipes!

Business of the Month: Vermont Sun Fitness Centers

Does your New Year’s resolution include new health & fitness goals? Check out Vermont Sun! They’re our Co-op Connection Business of the Month for January and they offer 10% off to Co-op member-owners!

Vermont Sun has been keeping our community fit since 1985. Whether you’re visiting their facilities in Middlebury or Vergennes, you’ll find their clubs geared up with the essential elements of a great workout. Their fitness equipment vendors are the best in the industry, and their club owners stay current with the latest technology! They offer a wide variety of cardio, strength, and free weight equipment to ensure that you get the best possible workout.

If you’re looking for great group fitness classes, you’ll find over 250 each month, including Yoga, Spinning, Zumba, Body Pump, Arthritis Aqua Aerobics, Senior Fitness classes, Self-defense classes, and more! There’s something for every age group from kids to seniors.

Their facilities also offer racquetball courts, saunas, and indoor pools for lap swimming, rehab, or recreation.

Need help to ease safely back into a workout routine? Or maybe you’re just looking to set some new fitness and nutrition goals and could use a professional guide? Vermont Sun offers Personal Training services and Nutritional Counseling from a knowledgeable staff of certified, credentialed specialists.

In short, Vermont Sun has everything you need to help make your New Year’s Resolution a reality! Stop in and find out for yourself why they are voted the #1 Fitness Center in the region year after year! And don’t forget to tell them you’re a Co-op member-owner!

BONUS!! Vermont Sun is offering a special perk for Co-op member-owners during the month of January! Show your Co-op member card at Vermont Sun for a FREE ONE WEEK PASS!!