December 2017

Run for the Co-op’s Board of Directors!

It’s election time! Please  — each and every one of you — consider running for MNFC’s Board of Directors.  Spring will be here before we know it (really…it will!) — and among other things, it is the time when the Middlebury Natural Food Co-op member-owners have an opportunity to participate more fully in the democratic practices and overall wellbeing of the Co-op.  We invite all member-owners to consider running for open seats on the Board of Directors. The voting takes place during the month of May. Elected winners are announced at the MNFC Annual Meeting, and new board members begin their term at the June Board of Directors Meeting.  There are four open seats this election season. Please see the information for potential candidates below.

Board of Directors Applications are available at the Co-op or online:

https://middlebury.coop/participate/joining-our-board/

Dear Potential Board Candidate,

 Thank you for your interest in serving on the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op’s Board of Directors. This election packet provides you with an overview of Board functions and responsibilities to help you make your decision about running for the Board.  Please contact Kate Gridley (kmgridley@gmail.com) or any member of the Board for further information.

All are welcome here.

Here are our values:

MNFC member-owners, customers and the community benefit from:

Healthy Foods

A Vibrant Local Economy

Environmentally Sustainable and Energy-efficient Practices

Cooperative Democratic Ownership

And Learning About These Values

The Board of Directors is the legal representative of the member-owners of MNFC and is therefore responsible for the overall financial wellbeing of the Co-op.  The Board exercises its responsibilities through its relationship with the General Manager, whom it hires and oversees. The Board is made up of 11 directors. Each term of office is three years, and terms are staggered so no more than 4 terms expire each year.

DETAILS:

Time Requirements and Responsibilities for Directors

  • Make a three-year commitment to the Board of Directors.
  • Attend two Board orientation sessions.
  • Attend a workshop for cooperative boards in the first two years of your term (this one-day session is typically held in Brattleboro on a Saturday in January and MNFC pays for travel expenses).
  • Be familiar with MNFC’s by-laws and Board policies.
  • Prepare for and attend monthly Board meetings (6:30-8: 30 pm, currently scheduled for the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Co-op), occasional sub-committee meetings, and a daylong annual retreat (usually February). Monthly time commitment 4-6 hours a month.
  • Attend the Co-op’s Annual Meeting (early June) and Co-op community events.
  • Keep information and materials confidential when appropriate.

Qualifications of Candidates 

  • Be or become a member-owner of the Co-op.

Powers and Duties

  • Monitor the General Manager’s performance (store operations are the sole responsibility of the GM)
  • Monitor financial statements
  • Monitor, revise, create appropriate policies on a yearly basis
  • Communicate with the member-owners
  • Work to perpetuate the cooperative
  • Monitor Board performance

 Brief Explanation of Policy Governance Model

The Board of Directors of MNFC governs using the model of Policy Governance.

The Board develops policies outlining how the Board functions; what authority is delegated to the General Manager; and the limitations within which the General Manager operates. The General Manager communicates with the Board through monthly reports.  In Policy Governance, the General Manager makes all operational decisions while the Board focuses its attention on the strategic direction of the Co-op; engages with member-owners; and monitors management performance.

Compensation

In recognition of the time and commitment required to prepare for and attend meetings, required training and events, directors receive a stipend of $649/year plus a 10% discount on all purchases (except alcohol) at the coop.  Committee chairs and Executive Officers receive additional stipends.

Please apply!  As the MNFC handbook says: Regardless of race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, national origin or ancestry, place of birth, disability, and genetic information, you are welcome at the Co-op.  Racism or discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.

 2018 Application for Candidacy for Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board of Directors

Spotlight on Blue Ledge Farm

If you’re planning to put together a cheese or charcuterie board for your New Year’s Eve gathering, be sure to pick up some Blue Ledge Camembrie! We’re featuring this divine cheese in our weekly sale from December 28th – January 3rd. Made with fresh Ayrshire cow’s milk, this is a smooth mold-ripened Camembert/Brie hybrid. A buttery slice of bovine heaven! It pairs well with a light red or white wine and is a great match for any type of cured meats. Read on to learn more about the makers of this fine cheese and their sustainable dairy farm in Salisbury, VT:

 

 

Blue Ledge Farm is a first generation, family owned and run goat dairy and cheese-making operation established in 2000 by Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt. Their mission is to create a high quality product built on the cornerstones of respect for consumers, land and animals as well as their local community.

They initially started milking four goats at Blue Ledge Farm, and began processing cheese two years later. Today they milk 125 goats twice daily and produce eleven types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to harder cheeses aged three months.

The 150 acres of Blue Ledge Farm consist of woods, hayland, pasture and wetland. Recognizing the ecological value of the wetland ecosystem, they recently preserved the fifty acres of wetland on their farm through the Vermont Land Trust. Their 125 goats spend spring, summer, and fall days browsing in the woods, return to the barn for 4 pm milking, and lounge around in a grass pasture as evening sets. It’s no wonder that they recently became certified as an Animal Welfare Approved Farm!

Sustainable farming practices are top priority at Blue Ledge Farm. They compost their bed-pack manure and apply it to their fields, thereby completing the nutrient cycle from grass to goat and back to grass. In 2008 they built an underground aging facility, or “cave” which is naturally cool and moist, conditions that the cheese likes, and being underground it takes less energy to keep the temperature and humidity at desirable levels. They have partnered with Efficiency Vermont on several projects over the years, from a variable-speed efficient milking machine, to more efficient cooling compressors, to newer fluorescent light bulbs, all in an effort to lower their impact on the environment. At the heart of their operation is the clean-burning EPA-Approved bio-mass furnace, which allows them to heat their home, cheese-house and barn, as well as all of the hot water used in the cheese plant, with locally-produced wood pellets! In 2015 they covered the south facing roof of their barn with solar panels which provide nearly half of the farm’s electricity usage all summer long!

In addition to the Camembrie on Co-op shelves, you’ll also find their lovely fresh Chevres in several flavors, Crottina, Lake’s Edge, Middlebury Blue, La Luna, Mixed Drum, and, when available, Riley’s Coat. Enjoy!

Spotlight on Niman Ranch

We’re shining the Member Deals Spotlight on Niman Ranch this week to celebrate their efforts to provide all-natural meats raised by family farmers committed to sustainable & humane practices. All of their meats will be 20% off for member-owners from December 28th – January 3rd.  Read on to learn more about Niman Ranch, their dedication to sustainable meat, and the small family farmers who make it possible.

niman-ranch-logo1

Niman Ranch began in the early 1970’s on an eleven-acre ranch in a small coastal town just north of San Francisco. The cattle were raised using traditional, humane husbandry methods and given wholesome all-natural feeds. Before long, Niman Ranch beef became a favorite in local grocery stores and at San Francisco Bay Area restaurants. Today, the Niman Ranch network has grown to include over 700 independent American farmers & ranchers, who all share Niman Ranch’s dedication to the strictest protocols. Their meats are humanely raised, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and fed only the finest all vegetarian feeds.

Niman Ranch believes that sustainable agriculture is best described as livestock raising and production practices which balance current resource demands without compromising the future of these resources from an environmental, economic, and human perspective. They also believe that sustainability does not end with the farmer and must carry throughout the supply chain. For this reason, they choose to raise livestock in areas where feed sources are locally available to reduce the environmental impact of feed transport. Sustainability at Niman Ranch incorporates sustainable agricultural practices with economic sustainability for the farmers, the ranchers, their customers, and their employees; all of which are an integral part of their overall business philosophy of RAISED WITH CARE.

raisedwithcare_green

The Niman Ranch Top 10 Sustainability Best Practices

  • Pay farmers a premium in accordance to strict raising protocols
  • Establish a floor price for farmers tied to the cost of inputs of feed and fuel
  • Promote agricultural biodiversity by using breeds which thrive in their natural environment
  • Practice genetic diversity to keep breeds healthy over generations
  • Maintain livestock density well below conventional industry standards so as not to overburden the land
  • Raise livestock in geographies where feed is locally available to reduce carbon footprint incurred during transport
  • Mitigate soil erosion and/or loss through maintaining pasture with coverage for livestock, crop rotation, rotational grazing, and responsible waste/manure management
  • Prohibit use of concentrated liquid manure systems
  • Use buffer strips and grassed waterways
  • Provide a robust marketplace for farmers and ranchers and their livestock

Humane Animal Care

All Niman Ranch livestock are humanely raised according to the strictest animal handling protocols. These protocols were written based on the recommendations of animal handling expert Dr. Temple Grandin. Here is a summary:

  • Livestock are raised outdoors or in deeply bedded pens
  • Livestock always have access to fresh, clean water
  • Livestock are able to express their natural behaviors in healthy social groups
  • All farms are gestation crate-free

Click HERE to read in-depth animal-raising protocols

Ensuring Compliance

Niman Ranch follows a 3-step process to ensure full compliance with their protocols.

  1. All of their farmers and ranchers regularly complete affidavits agreeing to follow all protocols
  2. Niman Ranch personally inspects each farm before it is accepted into their program to ensure it meets standards
  3. The Niman Ranch field agents, located throughout the country, regularly visit and inspect the farms and ranches in their network. Niman Ranch has more field agents than sales reps!

Click HERE to read more about their practices and view maps of their farm locations

Click HERE for farmer bios

Click HERE for great recipes

Meet The Farmers

Niman Ranch Meet our Farmers from Niman Ranch on Vimeo.

Spotlight on Krin’s Bakery

Looking to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth? We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Krin’s Bakery this week and member-owners can enjoy 20% off Krin’s full line of local confections from December 21st – 27th! Read on to learn more about this wonderful bakery nestled in the mountains of Huntington, VT.

 

 

Krin’s Bakery is the home of artisan baker Krin Barberi. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, then exploring and working for others, Krin opened her Bakery in 2005.

According to Krin, “We are a community of 7 Huntington women bringing diligence, humor, and really good taste buds to work every day. Our team is devoted to delicious baked goods made in small batches with deep attention to the baking process. We bring pride to our production process, using only “real” ingredients (butter instead of shortening, sugar instead of corn syrup). From ingredient choice to the mixing bowl, from oven to cooling rack, we bring that sense of pride from our kitchen to you.”

Krin is a passionate local foods activist supporting the cause by working with local distributors, markets, producers, and farmers. She takes her inspiration from her rural New England family’s tradition of supporting and participating in the life of her community. She believes that where our food comes from is important and takes pride in using local Vermont ingredients including carrots and zucchini from Full Moon Farm in Hinesburg, Bee Happy Honey from Starksboro, Huntington’s own Maple Wind Farm eggs, and dairy from Middlebury’s Monument Farms.

It is from this deep sense of community and place that Krin continues to bake love and care into each and every treat.

At the Co-op you’ll find Krin’s famous cupcakes, mini cakes, macaroons, and biscotti.

 

Happy New Year! Happy Store!

Happy New Year!  While I reluctantly say goodbye to 2017 (the number happens to include all of my lucky numbers), I am ready for the spaciousness and opportunities this new beginning means.  Not just spaciousness in my personal life or opportunities for significant political changes in Washington D.C., but this new spaciousness in our expanded Coop.

I give myself extra time these days when I am headed in for my big weekly shopping at the Coop. I need time to absorb all the newness – and the deliciousness!  This spaciousness is so much more than I could have imagined.  The meats, the fish, the beer, the wine, the beauty supplies, the dairy and gluten free options – and did I mention the DELI?  I have found Zoodles(!) where the olive oil used to be; beer where the mocha almond drinks used to be and dried mango where the some of the chocolate used to be!  Not to mention the coconut chocolate chews and rice sticks at the checkout –  my family is ever so grateful for that move as it means I don’t forget to purchase these Barnicle family staples.  And there is so much more going on in this space.  The aisles are wide enough to smile at people while you reach for the blueberry hemp granola and did I mention the fresh fish and the expanded lines of turkey meat and chicken?  The store is now, more than ever, a foodie’s delight.  This extra space means so many more choices and very thoughtful merchandising and shelf organizing.  Things are labeled more clearly, the lighting is fabulous and wait  – did I mention the fish?   There are affordable options in almost every food category and I am able to still keep to my budget. Healthy foods have never been more accessible in Addison County.

As I reflect on the last two years on the board and what this expansion means I come back to the staff – to Glenn and his amazing team that has planned and implemented this expansion.  Their leadership, team spirit and fortitude for adaptation while working in a construction zone are commendable.

I have been a member-owner of the Coop since 1998.  At the time I lived down the street and got there by foot with my one-year-old in a stroller that did not fit in that tiny storefront along Washington Street. I’d proudly spend my meager grocery budget on organic produce and bulk items that kept my kitchen smelling delicious and my family’s minds and bodies healthy.  Twenty years later my almost 21-year-old and nearly 18-year-old drive themselves to the Coop to meet friends knowing it’s the best (and healthiest!) lunch in town.  I am very proud of our Coop. We’ve set the bar high as far as food choices for our community and we are now poised to respond to the demand for that food for a few more years.  Did I mention the new spacious seating in the deli area, oh and the fresh fish?

Nadine Canter Barnicle is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member

Spotlight on Vermont Creamery

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 December 14th – 20th. They recently shared some big news 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.

With Gratitude.

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.

Local Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Stumped on stocking stuffers? We’ve got you covered! Here’s a handy guide to the local offerings in several departments at the Co-op!

 

In Grocery

From sweet treats to savory nibbles, the grocery department has a long list of local finds. Look for chocolates from Farmhouse Chocolates & Ice Cream, Daily Chocolate, Middlebury Chocolates, Lake Champlain Chocolates, Nutty Steph’s, and Tavernier Chocolates; caramels from Big Picture Farm and Red Kite Candy; gift-sized honey from Champlain Valley Apiaries and Lemon Fair Honeyworks; jams and chutneys from Blake Hill Preserves and V Smiley Preserves; maple syrup and maple candies from Butternut Mountain Farm, Shaker Maple Farm, Nutty Steph’s, Werner’s, Untapped, and Hillsboro Sugarworks; Meat Sticks from Vermont Smoke & Cure; and reusable sandwich wrap from Bees Wrap.

 

 

In the Bakery:

Whether you’re looking for gluten-free treats or chocolate dipped sweets, the Co-op Bakery has you covered! Look for brownies from Vermont Brownie Company and West Meadow Farm Bakery; macaroons and biscotti from Krin’s Bakery; cookies from the MNFC Deli, Vermont Moonlight Cookies, Vermont Gluten Free, and Three Bears Bakery; and bars from Best Moon Bakery, Red Door Bakery, and OWL Energy Bars.

 

 

 

In Wellness:

DIY spa and body care items make great gifts for just about anyone on your list and the wellness department is well-stocked with local treasures. Look for soaps from Wild Forest Herbals, Chasworth Farm, and Elmore Mountain Farm; bath salts from Wonderland’s Bohemian & Breathing In Wellness; aromatherapy neck, back, and eye pillows from Green Seed Herbals; tinctures, butters, and tonics from Urban Moonshine  & EOS Botanicals; arnica massage oil from Flourish Bodycare; body Butters, creams, and salves from Caroline’s Dream, Green Seed Herbals, Breathing In Wellness, Flourish Body Care, Honey, & The Orange Owl; lip balms from The Orange Owl & Caroline’s Dream; and sparkly nail polish from Nail Pattern Boldness.

 

Spotlight on Bionaturae

Is there a delicious Italian dinner on your menu for the week? Be sure to check out Bionaturae! We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on Bionaturae from December 7th – 13th to shed a little light on this Italian-American partnership that has been bringing us a fine lineup of authentic organic Italian foods for over 20 years! All of their products are 20% off for member-owners this week, so it’s a great time to stock up on these staples. Read on to learn more about this company and their philosophy!

bionaturae

While majoring in Italian in college, Carla Bartolucci spent a year in Italy and met her husband, Rodolfo, who had a background in agriculture. In 1995, the two teamed up and enthusiastically created an organic selection of authentic Italian foods for the American & Canadian markets. Now, more than 20 years later,  Bionaturae has remained a family-oriented, privately owned company, with a heartfelt devotion to quality and tradition.

Carla & Rodolfo
Carla & Rodolfo

Bionaturæ (bee-oh-na-too-ray) roughly translates to mean “organic nature.” For the founders of the company, it means this and far more. It means the celebration of Old World tradition, of authentic Italian food and of family.

So what makes their products taste so great? A few things come to mind. Rather than the Teflon dies that most commercial pasta makers have turned to, Bionature uses the original bronze dies common to traditional authentic pasta making, resulting in a coarser pasta that holds sauce exceptionally well. Equally important is the slow drying methods they incorporate. Where most modern pastas are heat dried to speed the process, Bionaturae insists on using the more traditional method, which can take as long as 14 hours to dry the pasta and avoids cooking the wheat during the drying process.

pasta-presss

According to Carla, “In Italy, we try to eat the foods that are the most seasonal, in their most natural form, with as little done to them as possible, and to eat a wide variety so that we are getting everything we need. The wisest thing, I feel, is to eat simply prepared, organic foods. It’s important to know where your food comes from.”

Here at our Co-op, you will find Bionaturae olive oil, balsamic vinegar, many different kinds of pasta (both packaged and in bulk), tomato products, fruit spreads, and nectars!

spaghetti

The Localvore’s Holiday Pantry

Looking to stock up your pantry with holiday staples from local farmers and producers? Here’s a handy guide to the local offerings by department:

Produce:

The produce department is bursting with holiday staples from local farms including plenty of winter squash, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, rutabagas, apples, apple cider, cabbage, cranberries, and winter greens like kale and spinach. The local farms we have to thank for this abundance include Golden Russet, Elmer Farm, Four Pillars Farm, Burnt Rock Farm, New Leaf Organics, Harlow Farm, Champlain Orchards, Sunrise Orchard, and Vermont Cranberry Company.

Bulk:

In Bulk, you’ll find lots of local items to meet your holiday baking needs including whole wheat flours, all-purpose flours, bread flours, pastry flours, and cornmeal thanks to Gleason Grains, King Arthur Flour, and Nitty Gritty Grains. You’ll also find local maple syrup from Hillsboro Sugarworks and honey from Singing Cedars Apiaries & However Wild.

Grocery:

The grocery department is well stocked with local holiday favorites including packaged flours from King Arthur Flour; Olivia’s stuffing mixes; maple syrup from Hillsboro Sugarworks, Werner’s, & Shaker Maple Farm, honey from Lemon Fair Honeyworks, Singing Cedars, Champlain Valley Apiaries, However Wild Farm, and Ariel’s Honey Infusions; maple sugar from Little Hogback Farm; pastry crusts from Krin’s Bakery and Kiss Tart; pepper jelly from Jed’s; and an abundant selection of jams, preserves, and chutneys from Blake Hill Preserves.

Cheese & Dairy:

Our cheese case boasts over 100 different local cheese options for your holiday cheese platters! The dairy case offers milk & heavy cream from Monument Farms, Strafford Organic Creamery, and Kimball Brook Farm. Vermont Creamery & Kimball Brook Farm have creamy, delicious local butter. You can also find Vermont Creamery’s mascarpone and creme fraiche, plus there are plenty of eggs from a number of local farms. Also, be sure not to miss the local eggnog from Strafford – it’s a staff favorite!

Deli & Bakery:

An abundance of breads and rolls come to us from Red Hen, The Bakery, The Manghis’, O Bread, La Panciata, & Klinger’s. You’ll also find stuffing mix from La Panciata, along with a gluten-free stuffing from West Meadow Farm Bakery. If it’s pies you’re craving, our bakery offers fresh house-made pies, plus local pies from Krin’s Bakery, Champlain Orchards, and Red Door Bakery.

Champlain Orchards Apple Pie. Photo by S.P. Reid

Business of the Month – Maple Landmark

Looking for local and sustainably made toys for the kids on your holiday shopping list? We invite you to check out our Co-op Connection Business of the Month – Maple Landmark! They’ve been making eco-friendly educational wooden toys, games, and gifts since 1979. Have you visited their factory store on Middlebury’s Exchange Street? Show your Co-op card and receive 10% off your purchases! Read on to learn more about this fantastic local business and learn why president and owner of Maple Landmark, Mike Rainville, was named the 2017 Vermont Small Business Person of the Year!

 

Maple Landmark is a company of 40+ people dedicated to making great products right here in Middlebury, Vermont. Their business began in 1979 in President & Owner Mike Rainville’s parents’ basement and today they occupy a 28,000-square-foot facility where they make the vast majority of the products they sell. Primarily, they sell to thousands of toy stores, gift shops and catalogs nationwide, but they also have a sweet little factory store that shouldn’t be missed by those of us lucky enough to live nearby. They take pride in being a local company that supports other local companies who operate in a responsible and sustainable manner.

A Family Business

The business was started by Michael Rainville. Since then, three more generations have joined the rank and file at Maple Landmark. The youngest are Michael’s sons, Adam and Andrew. One generation up from there is Michael, wife, Jill, and sister, Barbara. Up from there is Michael’s mother Pat and occasionally father, Claude. On the very top is “Grandma” as she’s known around the shop. This is none other than Michael’s 98-year-old (as of 2017) grandmother, Harriett Brown. While she doesn’t come to work regularly anymore, she did well into 2016 and still makes appearances every now and then.

Michael serves as president and CEO, running day-to-day operations. Jill is Office Manager, overseeing the paperwork. Barbara is the Marketing Manager, attending trade shows, working on public relations and helping in the finish room. Adam is a Project Manager, developing new products and improving old processes. Andrew heads up Communications, working on advertising, social media, and email blasts and attending trade shows. Pat is the Supervisor of our finish room and is responsible for the application of all paints and finishes in addition to hand-painted items. Claude helps in his free time, shredding paper for packing and mowing the lawn.

Sustainable Materials

The wood Maple Landmark uses is from native species. They use rock maple primarily, as well as some pine and cherry. These are some of the best materials for wooden toys and gifts and we are fortunate to have them locally available.

There are virtually no old growth forests left in Vermont, the region was heavily logged in the 1800’s. Damaging floods in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s not only knocked out the water-powered mills that processed the timber but they also taught a lesson in not laying entire mountainsides bare to runoff and erosion. Vermonters have a reputation for being stubborn but we also use our experiences to learn better ways.

In the early 1900’s, Vermont was 20% forested, now it is 80% forested. The forests are growing back, even more rapidly than the rate of harvest. As dairy farms consolidate and abandon marginal hillside property, the wilderness once again begins to take over.

The majority of wood that grows tends to be lower grade material. Since Maple Landmark makes small items, they are able to use downgraded lumber by simply cutting around the defects. This strategy saves on the demand for the rarer, more premium grades. They also make use of small dimension material that is cast off from other plants.

Just as they are careful to fully utilize the wood they buy, their suppliers are careful about how it is harvested. For the entire history of their company, they have purchased the majority of their lumber from one local source, Lathrop’s Maple Supply of Bristol, Vermont. Tom Lathrop is located just nine miles up the road and supplies not just maple, but pine, cherry, and other species as well.

Click here to learn more about the use of lumber for Maple Landmark products.

Eliminating Waste

The sawdust generated at Maple Landmark goes to a couple of local farmers for use as cattle bedding. Their wood scraps are put out for locals to use for kindling. They use very minimal packaging for their products and ship their products in reused upcycled packing materials. Click here to read more about their recycling and conservation practices.

Small Business Person of the Year

Michael Rainville is being recognized by the US Small Business Administration as Vermont’s Small Business Person of the Year for 2017! This honor has been granted in recognition of Maple Landmark’s employment growth, financial success, expansion and community involvement.

“It’s a privilege to have Maple Landmark recognized for its efforts,” said Rainville. “Throughout the years we have been recognized for our toys, but this is the first time Maple Landmark has been recognized for its overall business operations.”

“We are extremely proud to be a Vermont manufacturer. There were times when it was tempting to think about going overseas, but we know what we are. We are an American company that likes to make stuff,” said Rainville.

How It’s Made

 

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