There are certain fruits and vegetables that seem to announce the changing of the seasons, and for us here at the Co-op, the day we receive our first delivery of local, organic tomatoes and strawberries from Wood’s Market Garden, we know that summer is finally here! We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Wood’s Market Garden this week to highlight their magnificent 150-acre organic farm in Brandon, VT. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off all of their glorious local, organic fruits and veggies from June 29th – July 5th. Choose from heirloom tomatoes, succulent strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (the first of the season!), shell peas, sugar snap peas, broccoli, and cauliflower! Read on to learn more about the family that makes it possible for us to offer such a beautiful bounty:
Wood’s Market Garden is a fruit, vegetable & flower farm and seasonal market nestled in the quaint town of Brandon, Vermont. Their fields have been producing fresh food for the greater Brandon community for over 100 years. Jon Satz purchased the farm 16 years ago from Bob and Sally Wood. With his passion for growing and sustainable farming practices, the farm and market have blossomed into a destination for beautiful organic vegetables, quality bedding plants and some of the sweetest strawberries around! Jon, his wife Courtney, and their 2 young sons make their home on the farm and enjoy the continued legacy of farming the land that the Wood family started generations ago.
The farm consists of 150 acres of Vermont farmland and woods. Known far and wide for their delicious sweet corn and plump, sweet strawberries, they also grow over 50 kinds of vegetables and fruits on 60 acres of sandy loam soils. In addition to their field production, they also have 7 greenhouses for raising bedding plants, ornamentals, vegetable starts and the tastiest early tomatoes in the state! Their unique varieties of plants and their passion for quality crops keeps people coming back year after year.
All of their produce is certified organic. It’s a labor of love for everyone involved from seeding to harvesting to washing and selling. They’re really proud to be able to provide such a bounty of farm fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to their community year after year. It’s what feeds their own family on the farm and they grow it all with love, care and a commitment to good organic practices.
Aside from growing an abundant array of fruits and vegetables for retailers like our Co-op, they also offer a CSA and have a seasonal farm stand open daily in the summer from 9 am – 6 pm. Outside, it’s a paradise of plants, hanging baskets, creeping vines, and gardens to wander. If you haven’t yet visited their farm stand, add it to your list of things to do this summer! It’s such a treat to browse all of the gorgeous plants, flowers, and fresh produce! They’re located on the banks of Jones Mill Pond on Route 7, which during the warm summer months is covered with those famous pink water lilies. Inside the market, the shelves and baskets are filled with gorgeous fresh produce from the farm and bouquets of fresh-cut flowers. Depending on what’s in season, you’ll find everything from fresh spinach to strawberries to squash. They grow over 50 different kinds of produce on the farm, just yards from the farm stand. In addition to produce, you’ll find a variety of artisanal cheese, organic milk, and other local dairy products, local meat and poultry, fresh baked goods, maple syrup, raw honey, homemade pickles, jam and more! If you’re looking to stock your own garden, you can browse their selection of farm-grown organic veggie and herb starts, and a stunning variety of annuals, and perennials! Stop by to see them on your next visit to Brandon!
We’re excited to shine a little light on one of our newest members of the Co-op Connection – Juice Amour!They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business of the Month and they have a sweet deal for Co-op member-owners. Show your member card when you visit Juice Amour and you’ll receive 10% off their full line of organic, raw, fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, chia pudding bowls, acai bowls, sprouted nut milks, and other healthy snacks! Read on to learn more about one of Middlebury’s hottest new spots!
Juice Amour is truly a family affair! The business is run by Sheri & (Dad) David Bedard with tons of support and skill from (Mom) Bonita, (Sisters) Shawna & Kristi and all the many nieces and nephews that lend a hand whenever they can.They are a VERY juicy family (wink, wink) and they LOVE promoting and drinking healthy juice, smoothies, and yummy soups.
Juice Amour produces local, raw, organic juice and products made daily on site for pick-up or delivered to you! You can order in person at their shop, located at 1396, or order through a subscription plan where you decide which juices you want, which days you want them and which pick up location you want them delivered. Subscription clients have fewer upfront costs (no jar deposit), they get to skip the wait in line, and they have access to specials and offers that are not available to the general public!
The juice cleanses at Juice Amour are also extremely popular! These cleanses offer a nutrient dense reset for your cravings, they can jump start a long-term health change, and provide immediate living nutrients to support and heal your body. Their juice cleanses are 100% organic, unpasteurized and made fresh daily.
Getting as much produce from local, organic farmers is a core principle of the Juice Amour mission to make minimal impact on the earth while supporting local farmers (more about this mission below). They also reuse the glass jars their juices come in. This eliminates the use of disposable plastic from the waste stream.
Sheri and the Juice Amour crew are proud to be based in Middlebury, Vermont and are currently delivering to Bristol, Middlebury, Shelburne, Vergennes and the Burlington area. They deliver only to businesses and partner locations because the cost and environmental impact required to deliver to individual homes is not conducive to the do-goodery they hope to accomplish with Juice Amour.
There is plenty of research that shows the healing properties of juicing. Juicing can facilitate weight loss, increase energy levels, strengthen immunity, support strong bones and a glowing complexion. A growing body of research suggests that most vitamin supplements don’t help prevent chronic disease while natural, plant-based vitamins and minerals are more easily and completely absorbed by the body.
Fresh is Best
Fresh juice not only contains greater nutritional value than mass-produced “bottled” juice, it is like drinking a natural vitamin filled with living enzymes, essential minerals, antioxidants, and natural antibiotics, which are vital for optimal health. Bottled juices sold in supermarkets are pasteurized which means they are heated and processed, which can kill vitamins and minerals. That also means that you should not “wait” to drink Juice Amour’s juices- Please consume within 48 hours!
Organic farming uses methods that minimize the use of toxins while building soil fertility and protecting water quality. Additionally, buying organic supports chemical and pesticide-free practices that are healthier for our farmers and for our planet. Lastly, the Juice Amour family feels that organic foods have more intense and delicious flavors.
Supporting our local, organic farmers is essential to minimizing the global impact of their business as well as providing support and income for their neighbors. All ingredients in Juice Amour’s juices will be sourced locally whenever possible.
Glass and the “Milk Bottle” Concept
To maximize health benefits for you and minimize the impact on our planet, Juice Amour avoids the use of plastic and instead chooses to recycle and reuse the glass jars their juice is delivered in. They ask customers to return jars and lids to the location they picked up their juices and, after a commercial wash, Juice Amour will reuse the bottles again. This reduces the cost to clients, eliminates a great deal of plastic from the waste stream, minimizes any negative impact of drinking out of plastic, and maximizes benefits to the community and planet!
As our celebration of Dairy Month churns on, we’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on a fantastic local, organic dairy farm hailing from Randolph Center, VT: Neighborly Farms! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their award-winning organic cheeses from June 22nd – 28th! Read on to learn more about this 168-acre organic dairy farm that calls VT home:
Established as an operating dairy farm in the 1920’s, Rob and Linda Dimmick are continuing the tradition of family farming. Nestled in the rolling hills of Randolph Center, Vermont, Neighborly Farms decorates the countryside with its red barn and white post and beam farmhouse built in the 1800s. They operate on 168 acres with cropland and grazing fields to support the dairy and a sugarhouse for producing pure Vermont maple syrup. The clean and tidy barn is home to 70 Holsteins—the black and white cows that symbolize rural living at its very best.
Rob and Linda are continuing the family farming tradition because they have a passion for the land and animals. They are a totally organic farm. This means the farm is run in complete harmony with the land and the animals; no antibiotics, no hormones, and no commercial fertilizers. Just pure and natural techniques that keep the cows healthy, happy, and the dairy products wholesome and chemical-free. It means that the cheese produced at Neighborly Farms are pure and natural. And the best part? The organic cheeses taste great too.
Neighborly Farms of Vermont is not just another dairy farm. At their family farm, there is a deep love for the land and animals. That’s why they choose to be an organic farm. It’s a way of showing that they care about their surroundings and neighbors. Neighborly Farms produces eleven kinds of delicious organic cheeses; all made with wholesome milk from their well-cared for Holstein cows. They make cheese the old-fashioned way and believe that caring for the land and surroundings helps them produce the finest cheeses possible.
At the Co-op, you’ll find a rotating variety of their cheeses including Jalapeno Jack, Monterey Jack, Colby, Feta, Green Onion Cheddar, and their staple Raw Milk Cheddar, many of which have been honored with awards from the prestigious American Cheese Society. They hope you enjoy them and they thank you for supporting your local, organic dairy farms!
The Co-op Board of Directors hosted an ice cream social for staff in late May to show their appreciation to staff. While the board appreciates the staff every day, staff are going above and beyond their regular routines to accommodate many changes. The social was held in the old store space where the board meets monthly. This location did not go un-noticed as many noted how much the Co-op has grown.
There were many flavors of ice cream, but where the board went… well, overboard, was with the toppings: from pretzels and M&Ms to nuts, fresh fruit, and two kinds of secret recipe sauces (caramel and chocolate). All the ingredients were on hand to create a well-deserved treat. More than 30 staff members came by, some with just the time to grab an ice cream and go back to work or to a meeting, others with a bit more time to sit and talk.
As the expansion continues, keeping the store moving smoothly is a balancing act and one that has not gone unnoticed by customers. The board wanted to express gratitude to the staff for making the Coop function in the middle of a construction site. Board members hear every day from member-owners how the staff is always friendly and available to answer questions and to help. We really wanted to acknowledge that, and the fact that they make the store feel as welcoming as ever, in spite of all the kinds of interferences that an expansion brings about (noise, dust, having to park further away from the store, etc.).
Beyond expressing thanks to the staff, the members of the board who were able to attend the social appreciated the wonderful opportunity to connect directly with members of the Staff. These two “sides” of the Co-op work in tandem, but have very seldom the chance to connect personally.
Ilaria Brancoli-Busdraghi is a long-serving Co-op Board Member. Do you have any questions about the Board and how we do our work? Write anytime with comments, questions or suggestions: email@example.com.
This week, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Newman’s Own to tip our hat to the man who decided to launch a food business that gives away 100% of its profits to charity. All of Newman’s Own products will be 20% off for member-owners from June 15th – 21st! Read on to learn more about how Paul Newman accidentally found himself at the center of a successful food business and the impact of his incredible philanthropy:
Paul Newman’s craft was acting, his passion was auto racing, his love was his family and friends. But his heart and soul were dedicated to helping make the world a better place. His commitment to philanthropy was clear — he used his influence, gave of his financial resources, and personally volunteered to advance humanitarian and social causes around the world. While Paul Newman was a Hollywood star of extraordinary celebrity and a person recognized for exceptional commitment and leadership for philanthropy, he lived his life as an ordinary person, which he always considered himself. He was a man of abundant good humor, generosity, and humility.
Newman’s Own began as a bit of a lark. In 1980, Paul Newman and his pal A.E. Hotchner filled empty wine bottles with his homemade salad dressing to give as gifts for the holidays. After friends and neighbors came clamoring for refills, Paul and “Hotch” were convinced that the special recipe was good enough to be bottled and sold.
Newman’s Own Salad Dressing was officially launched in 1982 and, surprisingly, became an instant success. The first year of profits exceeded $300,000 and Paul declared, “Let’s give it all away to those who need it.” Without ever taking personal compensation, Paul shared his good fortune. It was a unique concept at the time – giving away all after-tax profits, but he believed that helping others was just the right thing to do.
In these thirty-five years, Paul Newman and the Newman’s Own Foundationhave given over $485 million to thousands of charities. Newman’s Own Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization formed in 2005 by Paul Newman to sustain the legacy of his philanthropic work.As the sole owner of the food and beverage and licensing companies, the 100% of profits earned from the sale of Newman’s Own products goes to the Newman’s Own Foundation. The Foundation is governed by an independent Board of Directors which is obligated by law to use the Foundation’s resources only to advance its charitable purpose. The Foundation makes grants to charitable organizations, pays for other qualifying charitable expenses, and sets aside reserves to cover future payments on pledges, establish a rapid response fund in case of disasters, make program-related investments, and cover unanticipated contingencies. The Foundation believes that each of us, through the power of philanthropy, has the potential to make a difference. As of January 2017, the Foundation has succeeded in providing:
Over $485 million to charities since 1982
More than 21,000 grants made since 1982
Grants have served 46 countries, including the U.S. (since 2011)
Over 600 grants, totaling $27.3 million in 2016
Click here to read more about the beneficiaries and impact of the Newman’s Own Foundation
Today, Newman’s Own produces over 200 individual products across 20 categories. Always great tasting, always top quality, just the way our founder, Paul Newman, insisted. We’ll always follow his vision for putting quality first. The Newman’s Own business model has remained the same over the years. The enterprise remains true to Paul’s original mission and values, using only all-natural, high-quality foods and donating 100% of profits and royalties to charity. Who would’ve thought that so much good could come from a simple idea? As Paul said, it has been “a heck of a ride.”
The election results are in, and we’re welcoming a brand new board member – Molly Anderson! Molly is a Professor of Food Studies at Middlebury College. Here’s what she had to say about why she’d like to join the Co-op Board of Directors:
I want to contribute to MNFC and participate more actively in helping it thrive. It’s a great coop now; and I’d like to help MNFC member-owners, staff and GM work through our next phase, which will make it an even stronger community center. I’m committed to keeping the coop viable, yet making it even more accessible and affordable to low-income residents.
While I’ve lived in Middlebury a bit less than 2 years, I have been working with organizations and businesses throughout New England for the past 30 years that are working to improve our food system. I think that I could bring knowledge about food system issues, resources and trends that might be useful to the Board. I’ve been a member of food coops in North Carolina, Arlington and Cambridge (Mass) and Maine, but haven’t served on their Boards. I do have considerable Board experience, however: I chaired the national Community Food Security Coalition’s board for 6 years, and served on the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project Board (Massachusetts). I also clerked the New England Earthcare Committee, a Quaker environmental group with food and environmental interests; and I serve on several Advisory Boards for food system organizations.
I’m a bridge-builder and networker through my work, and I think collaboration across different perspectives is how we solve social problems. In my experience, Boards work best when members feel their time is valued; when meetings are planned carefully; when there is good communication across the organization’s management, staff and Board; and when Board members listen to each other deeply and respect differences of opinion as they try to reach agreements or compromises. While social capital is essential for good group dynamics, it’s important to stay focused on the tasks that need to be done.
I’m on the faculty of Middlebury College as Professor of Food Studies, responsible for developing a new interdisciplinary program in food studies. I’m also a member of Food Solutions New England and the (national) Inter-Institutional Network for Food, Agriculture & Sustainability.
Middlebury Natural Foods Co-opCelebrates International Co-op Day
Middlebury, Vermont – On Saturday, July 1st, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op will join co-ops around the world in celebrating International Co-op Day, joining the United Nations (UN) and the International Co-operative Alliance in a commemoration held annually since 1923. This year, at a time of increasing economic inequality, co-ops and credit unions are highlighting how their businesses can offer a solution by contributing to economic inclusion and building community wealth.
“Co-op Day is an opportunity for co-ops and their members to look at how we contribute to international efforts to address economic inequality,” said Bonnie Hudspeth, Member Programs Manager of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of more than 35 food co-ops across the Northeast, locally owned by more than 120,000 people from all walks of life. “When our needs are not being met — whether it’s for things like food, credit, jobs, or insurance — co-ops offer a way for people to meet those needs, together.”
The theme of inclusion builds on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change over the next fifteen years. As democratic, community-based businesses, co-ops have a unique role to play in these efforts.
Here in our region, food co-ops have been at the forefront of efforts to build a fair, just and sustainable economy. And over the past few years, NFCA member co-ops have been working together to share strategies for ensuring that healthy food and co-op member-ownership are available to everyone.
Observed internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-op Day coincides with Independence Day celebrations here in the United States. Based on the principle of one member one vote, co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, mutual self-help, and equality.
“The co-operative model is unique in that it empowers people to work together to meet their needs through jointly owned, democratically governed businesses,” said Erbin Crowell, NFCA Executive Director. “It should come as no surprise that co-ops have been part of American history from our beginnings and continue to play a key role in building vibrant local communities, creating good, sustainable jobs, and contributing to a stronger, more resilient economy.”
For more information and a map of food co-ops, please visit www.nfca.coop.
Vermont’s Tour de Farms Bike Ride Returns August 6th
Pre-registration is now open for discounted entry
BRISTOL, Vt. – ACORN’s 10th annual Tour de Farms, one of Vermont’s oldest cycling farm tours, will be held Sunday, August 6th in Bristol, Vt. This year’s route will follow 28 miles of rolling hills and backcountry roads through the Champlain Valley’s quintessential pastoral landscape.
The Tour will start at 8:30 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m. at the Rec Club Field, next to Mt. Abraham High School in Bristol, which is 30 miles south of Burlington. The route will feature nine farm stops and 30 farms, food producers and restaurants collaborating to provide riders with fresh samples of the summer bounty from the Champlain Valley.
A Farm Van will enable riders to purchase products directly from the farms without having to worry about how they’ll get them back to their car. The ride will conclude with a celebratory After-Party featuring live music and dancing, local ice cream, foods and beverages.
“The Tour is one of Vermont’s most unique and loved local food and farm experiences,” said Jonathan Corcoran, ACORN’s Executive Director and Tour co-founder. “What makes the Tour special is riding a bike and taking in the beauty around you, while stopping at farms along the way to sample a wonderful variety of locally-grown foods and beverages and meeting the real people who produce them.”
The 2017 Tour runs through the towns of Bristol, New Haven and Monkton and will showcase the wonderful diversity of farms and local foods in this lesser known part of the Champlain Valley. The terrain is hilly with a mix of paved and dirt roads so a mountain bike or road bike with wide tires is recommended. More details can be found at www.acornvt.org/tourdefarms
The Tour de Farms is a rain or shine event and will be capped at 400 riders. Advance registration is now open at https://www.bikereg.com/tourdefarms and will close on July 28th at 5:00 p.m. The advance registration fee is $50 for adults and $25 for students and kids under 18. The on-site registration fee the day of the event is $75 for adults and $50 for students and kids.
The 2017 Tour is sponsored by Earl’s Cyclery and Fitness, AARP Vermont, All Times Sparkling Cider, City Market, Community Bank NA, IPJ Real Estate, Langrock, Sperry & Wool, and Skinny Pancake. Earl’s Cyclery will provide two mechanical support vans for cyclists.
ACORN (Addison County Relocalization Network) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit community organization based in Middlebury, Vt. Its mission is to promote the growth and health of local food and agriculture in Vermont’s Champlain Valley. ACORN is working with growers, schools, businesses and community and statewide partners to double the consumption of locally-grown food by 2020. For more information, go to http://www.acornvt.org .
TOUR DE FARMS: To date, over 3,500 people have ridden the Tour. The Tour is ACORN’s top fundraiser of the year, and 25 percent of the proceeds from advanced registration go to participating farms on the Tour. The 2016 Tour was recently featured on Vermont PBS: http://www.vermontpbs.org/clip/4299.
In celebration of Dairy Month, we’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Vermont Creamery this week and offering member-owners a 20% discount on their full line of delicious dairy products from June 8th – 14th. They’ve got some big news to share with the community, and perhaps you’ve already heard about it, but we wanted to share the full scoop from one of their founders, Allison Hooper. Below you will find Allison’s post from their creamery blog:
With Gratitude for a Bright Future
On March 19th, Bob and I announced to our employees that we are selling our company to Land O’Lakes, the successful farmer-owned cooperative headquartered in Arden Hills, MN. After several years of searching for the right partner, we are thrilled to share this news. We are filled with a myriad of emotions: Delight that we have found a great partner. Elation that our baby Vermont Creamery is a great catch and a good fit for America’s iconic butter-maker. Nostalgia for those naïve twenty-something-year-olds starting an improbable enterprise. Energized to slow down and be present for our families. Relief that we’re leaving behind the stress of owning a business that isn’t so little anymore. Excitement that the future for Vermont Creamery and our team is bright and filled with opportunity.
Why sell now?
Bob and I are entrepreneurs. 34 years ago, back in 1984, we saw something in the future that others didn’t see. We asked: ”Why not make and sell hand-made cheeses from cows and goats milk?” We were undaunted and refreshingly optimistic. In our twenties, the risk seemed minimal as we cobbled together our $2,400 investment to make cheese in an outbuilding on a goat farm. Bob’s penchant for numbers and my intuition that Americans might eat goat cheese and crème fraiche (if they were really hungry!) fueled our passion and drive to succeed. Over the course of 34 years, we developed some scrumptious cheeses and enough customers to flourish as a business. We had just enough grit to clear the big hurdles of making a tasty cheese, keeping cash in the bank and earning a commendable trusting reputation with our customers. Who knew that this little company and America’s appetite for artisanal cheese would blossom as it has?
Today, we have a thriving and promising enterprise. Vermont Creamery cheeses and butters are sold in every state. Daily, we manage ten distinct cheesemaking technologies. Between the creamery and the farm, we employ over 105 people. We buy milk from 14 Vermont producers, 4 in Quebec and 12 in Ontario. We have accomplished a whole lot more than what we set out to do. Here is what makes Bob and I really proud:
We make amazing chèvres, crème fraîche, mascarpone, cultured butters, and geotricum rinded goats’ and cows’ milk cheeses;
We’ve stimulated a company culture that embraces transparent open-book management and rewards innovation;
Through solar energy investments on our dairy barn and improvements at the Creamery, we are hacking away at our carbon footprint;
Our B Corp certification requires commitment to higher environmental goals, less waste, and more sharing of our surpluses;
Through initiatives like the Vermont Cheese Festival and Cheese Council, we collaboratively lift all boats;
By building what we hope will become a model, transparent, environmentally conscious and sustainable goat dairy, we connect our working landscape to the good food we serve up;
Bob and I built a business partnership that has endured three decades of mistakes, triumphs, raising thoughtful children, and creating solid financial results;
We’ve personally mentored the next generation of Vermont Creamery; boy is their future bright!
Bob and I have had a good run and we know it is time for us to turn over the reigns to a team of terrific managers who have the skills to build upon what we have created. We have been intentional in hiring and developing talent at Vermont Creamery. We have already transitioned our day-to-day management to Adeline Druart, our 14- year French “intern” who came to America to learn to speak English. We promoted her to President nearly 2 years ago. Our leadership team is ready and eager for the opportunities of transition. They have a plan and a clear vision on where they will take Vermont Creamery. Equipped with the resources and expertise of Land O’Lakes, there is nothing they cannot achieve.
Bob and I do not plan to leave Vermont Creamery just yet. We will continue to attend industry events and speak on behalf of the Creamery. We have an inspiring story and love telling it. We will advise the management team through the transition. Most importantly, we will carve out the time to be students of life beyond cheese. There is a lot we’ve yet to explore and our spouses couldn’t be more excited for us to re-join them in the civilian world. Bob and I are both grandparents now, we are eager to spend more of our days at home in Vermont and less of them in distant airports promoting the cheese business.
Our work with cheese is not done. The Hooper Family will retain Ayers Brook Goat Dairy as it shoulders its way to sustainability. Our family is eager to help Miles and Daryll (Allison’s son and daughter-in-law) succeed on the farm. The Hoopers will call on Bob often for his financial counsel. We know that Vermont Creamery customers will still delight in visiting the farm. We look forward to seeing you there. Rolling up our sleeves to connect farmers with land and goats to milk is unfinished Vermont business that needs our attention.
Why Land O’Lakes?
We examined many options for fit and funding the future of Vermont Creamery. Land O’Lakes came with unprecedented enthusiasm. As the iconic company that made the butter which was in my family fridge growing up, Land O’Lakes has the know-how and resources to help Vermont Creamery realize our vision. For Land O’Lakes, they simply love what we do, our products, our leadership team, and our brand promise. And we are thrilled by Land O’Lakes’ desire to take our improbably successful family business to the next level.
Vermonters and our customers all around may feel a sense of uneasiness when a local brand sells to a larger company. We appreciate that sentiment and how this exceptional Vermont community has cheered for and supported us. We trade on the beauty of our landscape, the thoughtfulness of our Vermont practicality, our varied agriculture, and championing of humane causes. Land O’Lakes recognizes these values, shares them deeply and plans to invest significantly in the Creamery in Websterville, Vermont. The management team and all employees have been asked to stay on. Increased wages and improved benefits are scheduled and we intend to hire more production workers.
Land O’Lakes is dedicated to developing a local supply of goats’ milk. About 20 years ago, Bob and I each took short consulting stints to work for Land O’Lakes’ International Division. Our contracts brought cheesemaking, marketing, and business expertise to Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the West Bank and Bulgaria. We are familiar with Land O’Lakes’ values and effectiveness; they understand the sensitivity required in meeting a community where it is and finding synergy to realize a common vision. Bob and I were pleased to be sought out by the Land O’Lakes International Division then and look forward to similar opportunities for Vermont Creamery staff seeking this kind of growth experience.
Of all the emotions we’re feeling, gratitude is tops. We are grateful for the friends, fulfillment, and independence that our careers in cheese and farming have bestowed. We are grateful for the customers, new and old, who invigorated our drive to be the best. We are grateful for our conscientious employees who have made this business feel like family. We are grateful for raising six children (three sons each) in a family business that started from scratch. They know about hard work, their privilege, and responsibility to make the world better. We are grateful for our loving spouses, Don and Sandy, who have coached and supported us through this transition. We are grateful, that the future for the business and community we have built has never looked brighter.
For more than 80 years, Monument Farms Dairy has been a fixture of Addison County’s agricultural landscape. The original 28-acre farm in Weybridge, VT was purchased in 1930 by Richard and Marjory James. The farm now spans over 2,300 acres and is run by Richard & Marjory’s grandsons, Peter and Bob James, and their cousin, Jon Rooney. Peter James is the President of Monument Farms and oversees the farming operations, Bob James handles distribution and sales, and Jon Rooney runs the processing plant.
The sprawling farm is divided into two primary sectors – 1,800 acres is devoted to growing feed crops including corn, alfalfa, and grasses for hay, and the remaining acreage houses the cows and the processing plant. They milk over 450 cows per day, yielding 4,000 gallons of raw milk daily. That’s over 35,000 pounds of milk!! Having thier own processing plant allows Monument Farms to process and bottle their 37 products on site and serve as a direct wholesaler of Vermont milk to local outlets. In the earliest days of the dairy, they sold primarily to institutions like the hospital and Middlebury College. Now they’re able to deliver milk to 300 customers over 8 routes ranging from 20 miles south of Addison County, all the way up to Vermont’s northern border. They bottle some of their milk under a special Co-op Milk label just for our Co-op, City Market, and Hunger Mountain!
Monument Farm strives to be environmentally conscientious, believing that to be sustainable, every decision must be made with an eye toward the long-term benefits and impacts to the land. They follow a strict nutrient management plan and strive to exceed the state’s regulations regarding water quality. Best management practices are in place for all aspects of the farm’s waste management systems. The farm continually rotates crops to decrease soil erosion, applies manure based on calculated agronomic rates, and maintains buffers on all fields along waterways.
The farm also utilizes Cow Power! Thanks to an anaerobic digester, they’re able to convert cow manure into methane, which is then used to power generators producing 110 kilowatts-per-hour of electricity to use around the farm. The digested manure is then separated to generate bedding for the milking herd and a more odor-free liquid for field application.
The James and Rooney families take a great deal of pride in producing some of the finest dairy products in the state, ensuring that Vermonters have a long-term supply of fresh local milk. Check out this cool video to learn a bit more about life on the dairy farm:
Several of our staffers took a field trip to Monument Farms Dairy for a tour! Here are some photos of our visit: