June 2020

Read This: Your Vote Matters!

Bylaws and democracy – 

In August, we’ll be voting for the Board of Directors and the bylaws, again.

Last May 2019, the membership voted on the Board’s proposed new bylaws. That vote passed with members voting 623 YES (97%) and 19 NO (3%).   

Why are we voting on bylaws again?

Section 3.2 of the new bylaws explains that members can petition to request a special vote or meeting. In fall 2019, one member utilized this procedure, acquired the necessary member signatures on a petition, and presented it to the Board of Directors.  The petition requests for a vote on two bylaw changes which will appear on the August 2020 ballot for members to decide.  

What are the bylaw changes being voted on in August 2020?

  1. Shall the MNFC reinstate the wording “goods and services at the lowest possible cost” under Section 1.3: Objectives of the MNFC?
  2. Shall the MNFC reinstate the wording “Member-owners shall also be permitted to contribute services for additional discounts and other entitlements as determined by the Board” under section 2.2 Membership of MNFC?

Why did the Board propose bylaw changes in 2019?

Co-op leadership (Board + Management) found that the old bylaws were outdated in numerous ways, as a result of remaining mostly unchanged for nearly 40 years.  The goal was to make them clearer, simpler, and even more consistent with our values, and consistent with the best practices of our peer food co-ops.

What was the 2019 bylaw revision process?

Fall 2018 – a committee (board, staff, others) formed to review the old bylaws, as well as recommendations from peer co-ops and consultants, to create the first draft.  

Winter 2018/19 – 1) the committee shared draft for feedback with staff, past Board members, and legal counsel; 2) then the committee shared draft for feedback with the membership via email and social media.  https://middlebury.coop/2019/01/29/youre-invited-to-help-update-our-by-laws/

Spring 2019– 1) final legal review.  2) In March 2019 the Board unanimously approved the final draft and plan for member vote in May 2019.

May 1st, 2019 – annual report mailed to all members with information about board candidates and bylaw draft with highlights of significant changes.  Voting was held in May.  Bylaw vote passed by members with 623 YES (97%) and 19 NO (3%).  https://middlebury.coop/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/MNFC_annualreport_NOBALLOT_2019_WEB.pdf

 

Why does the petitioner recommend voting YES on the ballot?  Please see a statement from the petitioner, below:

Why Maintain Lowest Possible Cost?  

Affordability is important for many members and selling things at the lowest possible cost was only mentioned in the by-laws, not in any of the board policies, the co-op mission or ends statements. Since the co-op already endeavors to offer goods at the lowest possible cost, why not let people know about it and state it somewhere in our official documents to help prevent us from going backward on costs?

It’s not like the requirement to sell food at the lowest possible cost prevented the co-op from treating vendors and staff fairly while also balancing fair returns and wages for producers and staff. There’s no evidence that producers or staff were treated unfairly during the last forty plus years this wording was in the bylaws. The fact that many vendors and staff have worked with, or for the co-op for decades, suggests that they feel MNFC treats them fairly.

Why Keep The Volunteer Worker Requirement?

Volunteer workers are the most powerful way to develop a strong sense of ownership and build customer loyalty while reducing labor costs, and helping provide goods at the lowest price. A worker discount is also the fairest, most equitable way to provide lower costs. Coupons and special deals are wonderful, but sales on nuts or beef, are of little use if you have allergies or are vegetarian. Special deals also promote impulse purchases compounding the problem of hyper-consumerism, while worker discounts are used primarily for purchasing required items.

Potential liability concerns have been addressed through the reduction of volunteer worker participation. The co-op used to have lots of volunteers work daily.  So many people used to volunteer, that at one time MNFC hired a volunteer coordinator. Eventually, the 20% “super-worker” option was discontinued and now volunteer workers only receive a 10% discount.  Over the years, volunteer numbers were gradually reduced. Today the co-op typically prefers to have a maximum of two volunteers daily and work is limited to only packaging bulk items.

The co-op could also allow owners/members to volunteer in the community in return for a discount, as Onion River does, eliminating liability concerns while meeting the bylaw requirement.

Given the historical trajectory of reducing volunteer numbers, reducing the hours that can be worked, reducing the discount, and reducing job availability, it’s likely that at some point without a by-law requirement, the volunteer worker program will eventually be eliminated.

The Co-op Leadership recommends voting “NO” on this 2020 ballot for the proposed bylaw changes.

 

Why does the Co-op leadership recommend voting “NO”?  Below please find a statement from your Board of Directors:  –  The current Bylaw 1.2 states: The Cooperative will be owned by its members. The objectives of the Cooperative are to provide a democratic, member-owned cooperative organization; to provide healthy foods and other useful goods and services; to encourage patterns of production and consumption that are ecologically sound and healthful; and to serve as a center for activities, education, and services consistent with these objectives.

Lowest Possible Price: The phrase “goods and services at the lowest possible price” was removed in 2019. Lowest possible price is a strategy employed by our competitors, Walmart in the extreme case; a strategy we believe wreaks havoc on the community, economy, and environment. Our goal is to provide the fairest prices possible to customers, while also balancing other factors such as a fair price to farmers/producers, and fair compensation for employees, all while keeping the co-op financially sustainable.

The Co-op prioritizes affordability and is always working to expand healthy food access programs like Co+op Basics, Weekly Sale, Food For All, Member Deals, etc.

Member Worker Program  –  members can sign up to work in the co-op for a 10% discount.  We love this program and our member workers and plan to continue this program into the foreseeable future.  The bylaw review process removed this wording from the bylaws to allow flexibility in the future.  During the past 10 years, many of our peer co-ops have been forced to change their member-worker programs because of worker insurance liability or employee union contracts which do not allow non-union workers to do union work.  Our co-op may face similar challenges in the future, and we want to have the flexibility to make required changes if necessary.

This petition process highlights one of the many ways in which the cooperative model is unique – it is democracy in action! We thank you for your engagement and participation.

Cooperatively yours,

The Co-op Leadership: General Manager Glenn Lower, Board of Directors: R.J. Adler, Molly Anderson, Nadine Canter Barnicle, Erin Buckwalter, Ilaria Brancoli Busdraghi, Lynn Dunton, Sophie Esser Calvi, Kate Gridley, Tam Stewart, Louise Vojtisek, and Amanda Warren

 

Our Racist Food System

At a rally in Middlebury a few weeks ago to protest police brutality against Black people, a pick-up truck full of young men sped by the line of protesters and one leaned out the window to yell, “All lives matter!”.  Maybe he thought he was being clever, but clearly it’s important to keep pointing out why Black lives matter in particular.  We are seeing the many ways police target people of color— it’s nothing new, but impossible to deny with video-cams and courageous citizens filming assaults on their smartphones.

If indeed all lives matter, why do Black Americans consistently have fewer opportunities to lead long, healthy lives? And why are people of color up to five times as likely to be hospitalized or to die from COVID-19 as whites? Although injustices in the ways police and courts treat people of color compared with whites are a huge reason, many of the answers are baked into our food system.  This food system has been exploiting people of color from plantation days through the present, stealing their land, and denying them access to resources, information, and markets that are open to whites.

We now know that dying from COVID-19 is much more likely for people who have diabetes, obesity, or other diet-related diseases. Diet-related diseases are more common among people of color:  for example, diabetes affects 7.5% of the white population in the US, but 11.7% of Blacks, 12.5% of Latinx, and 14.7% of Native Americans.  People of color have more diabetes and other diet-related diseases not because they prefer to eat less healthy food, but because healthy food is less accessible and affordable where they live.

Poverty affects the ability to buy healthy food, and people of color are more likely to live in poverty than whites.  The percentage of white people in poverty in 2018 was 10.1%, but 20.8% of Blacks, 17.6% of Latinx, and 25.4% of Native Americans.  Reasons include big differences in assets held by each race (part of the legacy of redlining), wage and employment discrimination, and the shockingly high rates of incarceration for Blacks and difficulties getting a job after being released.  Claims for economic reparations are getting more visibility, as the US learns more about the economic disadvantages borne by people of color.  Poverty affects access to education too:  plenty of white people have poor diets, but their ability to get well-paying jobs and learn how to improve their health through education is greater than the opportunities open to people of color.

Finally and perhaps most perversely, people of color hold most of the lowest-paid jobs in the food system: farmworkers, food-processing workers, meatpackers, supermarket stockers, etc.   These jobs have finally been recognized as “essential”, but fair compensation, protection from COVID-19, and access to healthcare and childcare haven’t followed.

Our food system doesn’t have to exploit people of color.  But we’ll need to accept paying the true cost of food (and accept subsidizing more federal food assistance for people whose wages won’t cover that cost).  Our expectation of cheap food makes us complicit in this exploitative system.

Molly Anderson is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member

Get Ready for E-Voting!

The Co-op is bringing our Board election process into the 21st century!  In August, when you receive your Annual Report in the mail, you’ll find directions to help you cast your online votes for our Board of Directors candidates and for proposed bylaws changes.  If you have shared your e-mail address with us and receive our monthly e-newsletter, you can follow the link that will be provided in the August E-News to cast your votes.  Your identity will remain anonymous and be confirmed by entering the last five digits of your member number, the first initial of your first name, and your full last name.  All of this information will be available on the mailing label of your Annual Report.  If you have any difficulty, please reach out to Karin @ karinmott@middlebury.coop or 388-7276 x307.

Celebrating International Co-ops Day

On Saturday, July 4th, your co-op will be joining co-operatives and credit unions around the world in celebrating International Co-ops Day.  This year’s theme, Co-ops for Climate Action, highlights the role of co-operatives in building a more just and green future for everyone.

“Our common home is in danger,” said Ariel Guarco, President of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).  We must act now, with our values and principles, to demonstrate on a global scale that it is possible to develop an economy with social inclusion and protection of natural resources.”

International Co-ops Day has been celebrated annually since 1923, and the theme this year was chosen to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on Climate Action.  The event will focus on the contribution of co-operatives to combating climate change, one of the most severe challenges facing our planet during the 21st century, as we build a more inclusive economy and society. 

“Across our region, food co-ops have been leaders in building a more sustainable food system,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).  “And with climate change and economic inequality as urgent challenges, food co-ops are taking the lead in working for climate justice, working together to ensure a more healthy, just, and sustainable future for everyone.”

For example, the UN Food & Agriculture Organization has pointed to organic agriculture as a tool for reducing energy consumption and the negative effects of energy emissions, sequestering carbon in the soil, and increasing the resilience of family farms.  Food co-ops were pioneers in helping to build the market for organic foods and continue to demonstrate this commitment.  Last year, member co-ops of the NFCA sold an estimated $97 million in organic products, supporting human health, sustainable agriculture, and a more resilient food system.

As our communities around the world work to rebuild in the wake of the COVID19 pandemic, co-ops offer an opportunity to envision a more inclusive economy.  As part of Co-ops Day celebrations, food co-ops across the Northeast are using this important opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and to working together to address climate change and achieve a fair, green, and just future for all.

Celebrated internationally on the first Saturday in July, Co-ops Day in the United States coincides with Independence Day, offering a unique opportunity to focus on the democratic values of the co-operative business model. Based on the principle of one member one vote, co-ops reflect American ideals of democracy, self-help, self-responsibility, and social responsibility. And because co-operatives are focused on meeting member needs rather than maximizing profit, they are focused on goals identified by their members, including social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

For more information, please visit https://nfca.coop/co-opsday/. and https://www.ica.coop/en/2020-international-day-cooperatives

Spotlight on Strafford Organic Creamery

As part of our celebration of Dairy Month, we’d like to take a moment to shine our Co-op Spotlight on a Vermont dairy that keeps us stocked in local, organic milk and some of the best ice cream we’ve ever tasted. Strafford Organic Creamery is nestled in the hills of Strafford, Vermont on the 600-acre Rockbottom Farm, which has been in the family for two generations. Farmer Earl Ransom and his wife, Amy Huyffer, milk 65 grass-fed Guernsey cows and carry on the tradition of tending the land organically without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers, just as Earl’s father did when he first founded the farm in the 1960s. Amy generally focuses on running the creamery while Earl handles the farming aspects of the operation. Their four young boys also help out on the farm, making it a true family affair. 

Photo by Amy Donohue Photography

Their herd is made up of Guernsey cows, famous for their rich, yellow cream, perfect for making premium milk and ice cream. The cows spend the entire growing season rotating on fresh pasture, grazing high-quality forage including grass, alfalfa, legumes, and clover. They rotationally graze across 56 paddocks, moving onto fresh pasture every 12 hours, turning sunshine into food, and sequestering carbon along the way. This same forage is harvested and stored for feeding the cows through the colder months.  According to Amy and Earl, “everything we do, from the crops we grow for them to the gentle routines of milking, is focused on their comfort and well-being, and helping them create super-tasty milk and cream.”

 

Photo by Amy Donohue Photography

 

Their commitment to the environment is not only evident in the way they chose to farm, but also in the reusable glass packaging they choose for their milk. In December of 2019, when Kimball Brook Farm announced they would be ceasing production of their organic dairy products, Amy and Earl received many requests from retailers asking Strafford Organic Creamery to consider switching to plastic jugs to fill the void left on the retail shelves in the wake of Kimball Brook’s closure. After reaching out to gather community input and giving consideration to the vast quantity of virgin plastic that transition would add to the waste stream, they held strong on their commitment to packaging their milk in reusable glass. According to Amy, “we don’t get all our first choices on everything we do, but we do get to choose how we care for this beautiful piece of land, which cows to milk and how to feed and house them, what ingredients to add (or not add) to our products, and what kind of bottle to put it in. It feels really good, after going to all the trouble to make milk like this, to put it in a bottle that will keep the milk cold on the counter, seal in the flavor, and that we’ll see circle around again next month.”

Earl is one of only three Black dairy farmers in the state of Vermont, according to the 2017 USDA Census data. This past February, VPR interviewed Earl about his experiences as a Black farmer in a state and occupation that is predominantly white. Despite the fact that Earl was born and raised on his Vermont farm and is carrying on a rich farming heritage started by his father, he still reports feeling like an outsider. “Nobody expects to see a Black guy milking cows or driving a tractor,” he says. He reports routinely receiving visits from seed salesmen or other drop-ins who ask to speak to his boss. Unfortunately, he bears the burden of helping these visitors see the error in their ways and check their preconceived notions about what a farm owner looks like. These kinds of microaggressions occur so regularly that Earl has become used to them, though, of course, it’s not Earl’s job to educate others about racism or the challenges of being a Black farmer in Vermont. 

Despite the ailing state of the dairy industry in Vermont, Strafford Organic Creamery remains financially sound. Earl credits their ongoing success to their loyal local fanbase and the fact that their farm controls their own production, bottling their own milk since 2001 and making weekly batches of their ice cream by hand. He believes that there is a place for Vermont dairy in the broader agricultural landscape, despite the challenges the industry faces and he’s optimistic that his sons will want to carry the torch into the next generation at Rockbottom Farm. 

 

Strafford Organic Creamery from Farmers To You on Vimeo.

Juneteenth Fundraiser for NAACP

Click HERE to Donate to Rutland Area NAACP Today – Middlebury Co-op Will Match Your Donation!

Juneteenth, on June 19, is the nationally-celebrated commemoration of the end of chattel slavery in the United States. The holiday has its origins in Galveston, Texas, where on June 19, 1865, enslaved Black Americans were notified of their freedom by Union soldiers. This was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. 

There has been some progress since then in regards to racial equality. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Constitutional Amendments – known as the Civil War Amendments – promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage, respectively; the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed Jim Crow era discrimination based on race. However, the legacy of slavery and white supremacy persists in every aspect of American life, and so the struggle for civil rights continues. 

On Juneteenth, many Black Americans enjoy spending time with family, friends, and loved ones, celebrating Black history, survival, and resilience. Because this day commemorates when the last enslaved Black Americans in Texas were informed of their freedom, this holiday is often referred to as Freedom Day, Emancipation Day or Black Independence Day. Right now, 47 out of 50 U.S. States officially recognize Juneteenth, including Vermont. Nationally, all Americans can celebrate what Juneteenth represents. This day is a call to action! Learn about the fight for racial justice in America. Address the ongoing movement for Black liberation. Organize with your community to dismantle the forms of oppression that continue to discriminate against Black folks. Honor the work of Black leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to the shared story of American progress and to a future where Black Americans are truly free. Last but not least, this Juneteenth, please join your Co-op to support the work of the Rutland Area NAACP. 

The NAACP is an American institution of essential historic and cultural significance. With the vision of ensuring a society in which all individuals have equal political, educational, social, and economic rights without discrimination based on race, the NAACP was founded in 1909 in response to riots protesting the form of anti-Black violence known as lynching in Springfield, Illinois. There are now over 2,200 chapters with more than a half-million members. The Association continues to be instrumental to the civil rights movement, waging legislative battles, producing publications, and organizing mass protests in order to secure equal rights on the local, state, and federal levels. Through democratic processes, the Association works to remove all barriers of racial discrimination to achieve equality of rights for American citizens. In the 21st century, the Association is focused on six Game Changers: Economic Sustainability, Education, Health, Public Safety, and Criminal Justice, Voting Rights, and Expanding Youth and Young Adult Engagement. The Rutland Area Branch of the NAACP is dedicated to eliminating racial discrimination in Vermont, provides resources for the protection of civil rights for minorities, and offers opportunities for anti-racist engagement for all Vermonters. 

Let’s Rally for our Local Businesses!

Buy now…Enjoy later…Support local businesses…

The Better Middlebury Partnership has thrown down a challenge to the Middlebury community: purchase as many gift cards/certificates as possible from local businesses in a five-day period. The promotion runs from Monday, June 15 through Friday, June 19.

How Does it Work?

Purchase gift cards from participating businesses either online, in person, or by phone. 

Each purchase will enter you to win one of ten prizes of $100 in Middlebury Money. There is no limit to the number of times you can enter –- support as many local businesses as you can! Winners’ names will be drawn Wednesday, June 24 and posted on this page.

Who is Participating?

  • 7 South Sandwich Company 
  • Agway of Middlebury 
  • American Flatbread Middlebury Hearth
  • The Arcadian (Electronic cards for online ordering for both The Arcadian and Haymaker Bun. Physical cards for in-person dining are not interchangeable.) 
  • Autumn Gold 
  • Burnham Maple Farm & Market 
  • Buy Again Alley 
  • Champlain Valley Equipment 
  • Costello’s Market 
  • Countryside Carpet and Paint 
  • County Tire Center 
  • Danforth Pewter Click 
  • Distinctive Paint & Interiors 
  • Edgewater Gallery 
  • Fire & Ice 
  • Frog Hollow Bikes 
  • Haymaker Bun Co. (Electronic cards for online ordering for both The Arcadian and Haymaker Bun. Physical cards for in-person dining are not interchangeable.) 
  • HOPE 
  • Inn on the Green 
  • Jessica’s Restaurant (Valid for lodging and dining)
  • Juice Amour
  • Junebug 
  • Little Pressroom 
  • Maple Landmark
  • Middlebury Fitness 
  • Middlebury Floral and Gifts
  • Middlebury Frameshop & Gallery 
  • Middlebury Inn & Morgan’s Tavern (Valid for lodging and dining) 
  • Middlebury Mountaineer 
  • Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op 
  • The Middlebury Shop & Forth ‘N Goal Sports 
  • Mister Up’s Restaurant & Pub 
  • Noonie’s Deli 
  • Notte 
  • One Dollar Market
  • Otter Creek Used Books 
  • Parlour
  • Quilter’s Corner at Middlebury Sew-N-Vac
  • Round Robin 
  • Shafer’s Market & Deli 
  • Stone Leaf Teahouse 
  • Stone Mill Public Market
  • Sweet Cecily 
  • Swift House Inn (Valid for lodging and dining)
  • Texture Salon  
  • Town Hall Theater
  • Two Brothers Tavern 
  • The Vermont Book Shop
  • Vermont’s Own Products (Because they are currently closed please call 388-7711 and leave a message,they will return your call within 24 hours. Or email vermontsownproducts@yahoo.com)
  • Waybury Inn 

 

Racial Justice and Your Co-op

At the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, we are committed to taking action to support black, indigenous, and people of color in our community.  All are welcome at our Co-op and each and every day we will take steps to assure we are creating a safe and welcoming environment for all.

We know that learning and taking action are essential, not optional. As we work now to focus more on learning and listening to our staff, farmers, vendors, members, shoppers, and the entire community, we want to share some resources we are finding helpful. These have been compiled by Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility.

As we keep learning, we will share the actions we are taking to fight racism and injustice in our community and Vermont.

Glenn

Celebrating our Graduates

Commencement is just one of the watershed events upended by the global pandemic, prompting schools across the nation to cancel or postpone graduation ceremonies or create a virtual alternative. While students, teachers, and public health officials agree that this played an important role in limiting the virus’ transmission, it leaves a lot of graduates feeling a distinct lack of closure. The rushed goodbyes and the mounting uncertainties about how it would all unfold put a damper on a period of time usually marked by celebration and revelry. Thankfully, these difficult circumstances also seem to have given many members of the class of 2020 a unique sense of camaraderie and many have found creative ways to honor this very special and unique time in their lives.

The Co-op is bursting with pride for two of our own who are celebrating graduations this year. Kelsey Buteau and Renee O’Connell are valued members of our Front End team and you may recognize their smiling faces from the check-out lines. Kelsey is graduating from Middlebury Union High School and Renee is graduating from Otter Valley Union High School. They each took a moment to answer a few questions about the challenges of graduating in the COVID era and the ways they plan to mark this momentous occasion.:

 

Congratulations on your graduation! How will you celebrate?

Kelsey: I don’t have a set plan for how to celebrate but maybe a cake and a day with my family and friends.

Renee:  I plan to celebrate with friends and family

Did your high school hold a ceremony?

Kelsey:  MUHS is planning on having a drive-through graduation ceremony. We will pull up in our cars, walk across the stage, and get our pictures taken. They also put signs up around the Middlebury green with our names on them.

Renee:  Otter Valley is also having a drive-through ceremony on the 13th of June.

What was the highlight of your senior year?

Kelsey:  I think the highlight of my senior year was getting closer to my friends. I went away for most of my junior year and when I returned I found that I had lost an old group of friends. I began to get closer to a new group of girls who have become my best friends. I am so happy senior year brought us all closer together  

Renee:  There were many incredible memories and highlights of my senior year. If I had to pinpoint one it would have to have been my fall choir concert.

What have been some of the biggest challenges of graduating during a pandemic and having your senior year cut short?

Kelsey:  For me, the biggest challenge is not having some sort of closure. I was looking forward to all of the big events at the end of my senior year, and it feels strange that they never happened. 

Renee:  There have been many challenges to graduating in a pandemic. I have missed out on some of the best things about being a senior. My softball season, the last three months with friends and teachers, spring concert, prom, etc. One of the biggest things for me was that I didn’t get the closure of saying goodbye. Say goodbye to my teachers, my friends, and the school that has been my home for the past four years. 

What’s next? Do you have plans for the fall?

Kelsey:  I am really excited to be attending the University of Denver in the fall! I have never lived in Colorado and I couldn’t be more ready! 

Renee:  This coming fall of 2020 I will be attending the University Of Southern Maine.

Needless to say, we’re so very proud of you both and we’re confident that you both have very bright futures ahead of you! Thank you for being an integral part of our Co-op family and congratulations on your graduation! 

 

 

Spotlight on Blue Ledge Farm

We’re thrilled to shine our Spotlight on a local cheese-making family that produces incredible award-winning cow and goat’s milk cheeses, while also demonstrating a deep commitment to environmental stewardship. Blue Ledge Farm of Salisbury, VT is a first-generation, family-owned and operated, Animal Welfare Approved 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 milk over 100 goats twice daily and produce fourteen types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to firmer aged cheeses.

Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt of Blue Ledge Farm

Hannah and Greg have made some incredibly nimble moves over the past few weeks to pivot their business model in response to the challenges of the global pandemic, so much so that they caught the attention of the local news! The shift entailed adopting a direct-to-consumer model, and they’ve found some very creative ways to get their cheeses directly to you, including a brand new mini-fridge at their Salisbury farmstand where you can get farm-fresh cheeses all summer long! Those who aren’t lucky enough to live close by can order online or by phone and have their cheese shipped. 

Blue Ledge Farm installed a mini-fridge at their farm stand to keep their direct-to-consumer sales flowing.

Our local cheesemakers need our support now more than ever, as many of Vermont’s specialty cheesemakers have taken an extra hard hit during the pandemic. With the mandatory closure of restaurants and institutions across the state, sales for Vermont’s specialty cheese producers dropped 50-70% almost overnight. As Blue Ledge co-owner Hannah Sessions put it in a recent blog post, “we can’t furlough the goats or the cows and bring them back in a month! It’s spring, and the milk is flowing. If we are to survive we need to adapt.” 

Part of their adaptation involved shifting lineup to include more aged cheeses. Throughout history, aged cheeses provided a means for farmers to preserve their abundant spring and summer milk supply. Relying on this ancient form of preservation, Blue Ledge increased their production of their aged La Luna and added a brand new aged cheese to the lineup. This cheese, which will be known as Moosamaloo in honor of the treasured local recreation area, will be a Gouda-style cheese made with cow’s milk from the neighboring herd of Ayrshire cattle at MoSe Farm. Seth and Monika and their beautiful Ayrshire cows at MoSe Farm provide all of the raw milk for Blue Ledge’s cow’s milk cheeses, including their smooth, buttery Camembrie, their creamy, yet crumbly Middlebury Blue, and their apple cider-washed Richville.

Hannah adds that “we are so very grateful for the support of family, friends, and fellow cheese lovers from near and far who have bolstered our spirits and emptied our cheese supply throughout this challenge! We realize that we absolutely love selling direct to folks! We have worked on ways to create those “magical moments” so during these times of isolation folks can receive a carefully packed cheese package straight from our farm and feel our appreciation. The feedback we have received has kept us going.”

 

 

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