Are you ready to learn more about YOUR co-op? Take a shot at entering this month’s Co-op Quiz question:
What is a Co-op Share?
What IS a Co-op Share? For that matter, who are our shareholders? How much is a share worth? How many shares of the co-op can one individual own? So many questions, and only until the end of January to answer them! If you’re not sure how to answer, do some digging on our website and in our in-store materials near the customer bathrooms to find out more. When you’re ready, write your answer on a raffle slip (located near the exit door) and drop it into our Co-op Quiz raffle box for a chance to win one of 10 Co-op Gift Cards, worth $25 each! Winners will be drawn at random, and then selected based on response accuracy.
Since 2018 New Perennials has been in residence at Middlebury College. The College and the surrounding Champlain Valley of Vermont serve as a classroom, laboratory, seed bank, and library to explore perennial thinking and action. In addition to developing courses, scholarly and curricular materials, the Middlebury Hub features engagement with community partners, crop testing at the College farm, an annual conference, and engagement with departments and programs across campus. Students and perennial practitioners come together to grow and root a network of perennial and diverse thinkers and doers.
The College hosts New Perennials Director and scholar in residence Bill Vitek, a philosopher, educator, and long-time collaborator with Wes Jackson and The Land Institute. Bill lives in Middlebury with his family, just a short walk to the Coop. See below for a Q/A to get to know Bill who is new to our community having moved here in the summer of 2019 from Potsdam, New York, where he was on the faculty and was chair of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Clarkson University.
Marc Lapin of Cornwall and I are both a part of the New Perennials team at Middlebury. Since 2018 each fall the three of us co-teach a community-connected learning course in the Environmental Studies Program called The Perennial Turn in Ag and Culture. Glenn and the Coop stepped up to be part of our experiment as one of our first community partners in the fall of 2018. Glenn worked with two students to explore what perennial means and how it applies to the Coop representing the food/ag sphere in the Champlain Valley.
Bill was delighted to help me introduce his work with New Perennials to Coop members and non-members.
Bill, we’ve been working together for nearly two and a half years. I am so grateful you’ve put down roots here and brought this timely work to Middlebury and Vermont, and to be a part of it! Tell us about your new role in residence at Middlebury?
Thanks, Nadine. What a wonderful community my family and I have moved to! And just up the street from the Co-op, a central criterion for my wife Maria while we were house hunting in 2019. It was a momentous and anxiety-filled decision to leave a job and community we loved for thirty-two years and start over again. But the opportunity to explore perennial thinking and action in and beyond agriculture, and to do it in the Champlain Valley with such talented students and socially progressive community partners, felt like the overwhelmingly right thing to do. I spend my days writing and teaching, learning more about the region, and finding connections with folks and organizations who are already working to grow more just, resilient, and joyful communities and regions.
What is Kernza and what makes it Perennial – and what do you mean by “Perennial” culture? Will we be able to buy Kernza flour at the Coop?
Kernza® is the trademark name for the grain of an intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium) being developed at The Land Institute. Perennial plants can live for more than one year, and sometimes for thousands of years (think of ancient trees). Kernza roots overwinter and can grow to ten feet, and those roots sequester carbon while providing grain for human consumption. The work of The Land Institute and its more than 60 research partners spanning the globe is to replace the major grain crops (wheat, rice, corn)–all of which are annual grasses requiring annual tillage, weed suppression, irrigation, and lots of labor or fossil-powered traction–with perennial varieties and diverse mixtures of plants that mimic grassland ecosystems. It’s a slow, challenging process of breeding and testing varieties, but progress has accelerated in the past decade. Kernza flour and products made with Kernza are increasingly available to retailers and consumers. Visit https://kernza.org/ for more information.
Perennial culture, in a few words, is the collection of ancient wisdom and rhythms that were lost or intentionally destroyed as large state societies–beginning 5,000 years ago around the globe, and powered by the surplus of annual agricultural practices–overwhelmed the landscape and the multitude of cultures, languages, and farming practices. A central feature of the New Perennials project that brought me to Middlebury is to explore how a return to perennial and diverse agriculture may awaken those ancient practices, and create new ones as well.
Can you tell us about Wes Jackson and The Land Institute in just a few sentences?
I met Wes in 1990 when I invited Wendell Berry to Clarkson University to give a lecture and he turned me down. He suggested I contact Wes. It was the best rejection letter I ever received! Wes has a way of bringing people into his life’s work who span the professions and academic disciplines. I’m a philosopher and he was trained as a plant geneticist. But he’d rather talk about Dante and Darwin Alexander Pope and Alfred North Whitehead than the latest journal articles on plant breeding (though he can do that, too!). Over the years Wes and I edited two books together (he likes to say that I did all the heavy lifting and he gets half the credit; which is true!) and tried to imagine what a curriculum would look like that didn’t assume that humans were at the top and in control, and that didn’t rundown the Earth’s web of life or impoverish billions for the advantage of a few. In 2018 we partnered with a few others and received generous financial support to find out. That brought me to Middlebury and to the work that I share with you, Nadine, and Marc Lapin, and a growing team of students, colleagues, and community members. I’m so grateful to Wendell, and Wes, and all of you.
What has surprised you the most about making the Champlain Valley home, especially for 8 months after you moved in COVID-19 really changed things up?
I like to joke these days, and I wish it were funnier, that one should not pull up well-established roots and try to put them down elsewhere during a pandemic. That said, my neighbors, the co-op, the town and, well, Vermont, have all been wonderfully welcoming to life-long New Yorkers who found it difficult to put those green license plates on their car, and who still–should I admit this?–still listen to North Country Public Radio. When cashier folks ask how your day is going they seem genuinely interested in your answer. And the pace of life is both more intense and laid back if that makes sense. I love the spontaneous conversations that begin on the sidewalks of Middlebury or at the hardware store. I’ve even found some wonderful jazz musicians to play music with–Ron Brown and Bear Irwin. We call ourselves Jazz Essentials and look forward to playing out again one of these days. (Bill has been a working jazz pianist for forty years.)
Did you pick your house location because you can walk to the Coop; how many days, hours, weeks did it take you to become a member?
As I mentioned above, my wife Maria had strong feelings about wanting to be in walking distance to the Coop. At an approximate distance of 900 feet, I guess you can say we are! We were members of our Coop in Potsdam, so there was no question about joining here in Middlebury. But the process says a lot about our whole experience of moving here. Maria and I were in town on one of our many house-hunting trips and stopped in the Coop to stock up on some things before we headed back to Potsdam. While in line we were asked if we were members, and we said no, but we planned to be once we moved, etc. We then decided to just join then and there. It took a few minutes and I apologized to the customer behind us for slowing down the line. She said “Take your time. Joining the Coop is the best thing you’re going to do today.” We said we were planning to relocate, etc., and she told us her story about moving to Middlebury a decade earlier, how it was the best decision she’s ever made, and “welcome!” That experience just about sums it up.
To learn more about the work of New Perennials at Middlebury College, check out our new and emerging website, new perennials.org, where you’ll find a form to sign up to be put on our mailing list. You can learn more about Bill here.
Are Perennial Grains Organic?
Depends on who plants them and how they manage their soils, pest management, etc. The point, I think, is that perennial grains are more easily organic due to fewer needs for weed control, etc.
“No pesticides are approved for use on Kernza. The largest market for Kernza is as a certified organic crop. According to Peters, many growers are using Kernza as a transitional crop to organic.”
Spectrum is featured in our Member Deals Spotlight from December 31st – January 6th and their full line of products are 20% off for member-owners. Read on to learn more about why they shine:
In 1986, Spectrum Naturals® brand was founded in Petaluma, CA to bring nutrition and quality into the vegetable oil market. Soon after Spectrum Naturals® brand was founded, Spectrum Essentials® brand was created to produce and market dietary supplements. Both brands were committed to offering premium, wholesome alternatives to conventional products. This commitment stemmed from the brand’s use of organic, non-GMO ingredients and its chemical-free extraction of oils.
Spectrum Naturals® brand soon became a leading innovator in the development of expeller-pressed and certified organic vegetable oils, as well as a leading proponent of testing and verifying the absence of genetically modified organisms in its culinary oils. In 2005, Hain Celestial Group acquired Spectrum® Organic Products, and today, Spectrum® brand is the #1 Natural and Organic Culinary Oil brand!
Spectrum® brand was founded for one simple reason: to provide a reliable source of high quality, wholesome products. Our brand offers 30+ varieties of Non-GMO Project Verified culinary oils, sourced from worldwide geographies including Spain and Italy. This collection of oils feature premium expeller-pressed and cold-pressed products. As your culinary partner, we are here to educate, guide, and inspire you with tips and resources that will take your dishes to new heights. Explore our products and our website to learn how to give your healthful lifestyle a boost.
Click here to check out delicious recipes and suggested uses for Spectrum products!
The term oxymel comes from the Greek word oxymeli, which translates to “acid and honey” and generally refers to an herbal extraction of vinegar and raw honey. While some traditional oxymel recipes have as much as a 5 to 1 ratio of honey to vinegar, most modern oxymel recipes call for an equal balance of the two. The vinegar most often used in oxymels is raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, which boasts a host of healthful properties on its own. Bringing together the probiotic qualities of raw apple cider vinegar with the beneficial enzymes of raw honey is a fantastic way to get the benefits of both, while also extracting and ingesting supportive herbs, particularly pungent ones that aren’t always pleasant to take on their own. One very popular example of an oxymel that you may be familiar with is fire cider, which was popularized by the esteemed herbalist (and Vermonter) Rosemary Gladstar.
What health benefits do oxymels offer?
According to a recent Mountain Rose Herbs blog post on the topic of oxymels, both apple cider vinegar and honey have been used for millennia to help boost the immune system, soothe dry throats, and temper digestive issues. Organic apple cider vinegar is high in acetic acid, and when you use the raw, unfiltered version, you are also getting “mother” strands of proteins, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria (similar to what one might enjoy in kombucha). Meanwhile, the honey brings soothing qualities and provides germ-fighting properties. So, these two ingredients alone are beneficial to the body, and when you add herbs, you have an incredibly effective method of getting extra herbal support as well.
Does the Co-op carry oxymels?
The Co-op is proud to offer a local oxymel from our friends at Valley Clayplain Forest Farm. Mark and Ammy make this potent herbal preparation with raw apple cider vinegar, local honey, and juice pressed from fruits grown right on their farm in New Haven. Their Black Currant Oxymel features the tart, yet sweet flavor of this potent superfood that has four times the Vitamin C of an equivalent amount of oranges and double the antioxidants found in blueberries. They suggest taking it by the tablespoon, diluting it with water for a refreshing fruit drink, using it as a marinade, combining it with oil to make a salad dressing, or pouring it over yogurt or pancakes.
We carry another fantastic local oxymel called Honey Lemon Master Tonic from our friends at The Yerbary in Charlotte, Vermont. This powerful herbal ally is a traditional fire cider made with organic apple cider vinegar, organic onion, organic garlic, organic ginger, organic horseradish root, organic lemon, organic raw honey, organic turmeric, organic habanero pepper. The Yerbary founder Michaela Grubbs says that this tonic will keep your systems resilient and boost your body’s defenses in a powerful yet sweet way!
Want to try making an oxymel at home?
Making your own oxymel may be much easier than you think. Some common dried herbs that make great oxymels include dandelion, elderberries, lemon balm, nettle, tulsi, rosehips, turmeric, basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Check out this recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs for making an oxymel with some of your favorite dried healing herbs:
Fill a pint jar 1/4 full of your choice of herbs.
Cover with equal parts apple cider vinegar and honey to fill jar.
Stir to incorporate.
Wipe any liquid off the rim and top with a tight-fitting plastic lid. Alternatively, place a piece of parchment paper under a metal canning lid and ring to keep the vinegar from touching the metal.
Shake jar until thoroughly mixed.
Store jar in a cool, dark place to extract for two weeks. Shake jar at least twice a week to assist in extraction.
Strain out herbs through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down on the herbs to release as much liquid as possible, retaining liquid and setting herbs aside to compost.
Pour strained oxymel into glass storage jars or bottles.
Label and date.
Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use. When stored properly, shelf life is approximately 6 months.
While the pandemic has made it challenging to safely engage in many of our favorite activities, one thing that can’t be taken away is our zest for outdoor adventure. In fact, many say that the ability to get outdoors and enjoy the splendor of Vermont’s natural landscapes is one of the primary reasons they’re getting through this challenging time with sanity intact. Regardless of your outdoor sport of choice, Middlebury’s Green Mountain Adventures is a great place to get outfitted with everything you need to explore the forests, mountains, rivers, and lakes of Vermont and we’re excited that they’re the newest local business to join our Co-op Connection lineup! This means that card-carrying Co-op member-owners can enjoy a 10% discount when shopping at Green Mountian Adventures! Read on to learn more about this family-owned local business and its wide variety of offerings for the outdoor enthusiast in all of us!
Co-owners Steve and Marion Atocha first opened Middlebury Mountaineer (d/b/a Green Mountain Adventures) in 1998 on Middlebury’s Mill Street in a spot above the Storm Café. Around five years later, the store moved to a Park Street location formerly occupied by Ben & Jerry’s. After a short stint there, the business inched a little further up Park Street to the storefront next to the Henry Sheldon Museum, and finally, in the Spring of 2017, they found what they’d been looking for, a prime location with great visibility on Middlebury’s Main Street.
Steve is the co-owner and founder of Green Mountain Adventures. On the store’s webpage, he is described as a father, a fly fishing enthusiast, and a certified American Canoe Association Kayaking Instructor. He spends his free time hiking for out of the way fishing holes or backcountry skiing on the Lincoln Gap. Green Mountain Adventures is co-owned by his wife Marion, who also serves as a clothing buyer for the store. She divides her time between the shop and working full-time as a nurse in Bristol. An avid hiker, swimmer, and nordic skier, Marion’s real passion is raising her three boys and working on her family farm. In true family business fashion, their boys pitch in as part of the Green Mountain Adventures team. Their son Brewer works in the store as a sales associate after school and on weekends and helps guide their kids’ summer adventure programs. Their son Abel also pitches in as a store sales associate. Lorenzo, their youngest son, helps tune skis in the wax room.
Green Mountain Adventures provides only the best gear and apparel with a commitment to quality merchandise and a high standard for personalized customer service. You’ll find many of your favorite brands including Patagonia, Darn Tough, Prana, Blundstone, Howler Bros., Hydro Flask, Yeti, and more. They also carry a wide range of cross country skis, boots, poles, wax, and accessories from Fischer, Rossignol, Bjorn Daehlie, Salomon, Rottefella, Craft, and Swix. If you’re not ready to commit to an equipment purchase but want to try out some of the best gear in the industry, check out theirsummer andwinter gear rental and lease options.
If you’re looking for a guide for your adventures, Green Mountain Adventures offers professional guide services and equipment rentals for fly fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, rock climbing, snowshoeing, and backcountry skiing. Whether you’re a beginner interested in learning the basics or a more experienced adventurer looking to hone your skills, Green Mountain Adventures will personalize any full or half-day trip to meet your needs.
We’re thrilled to shine our Member Deals Spotlight on one of the newest additions to our local cheese lineup – Barn First Creamery! All of their creamy, delicious, award-winning goat cheeses are 20% off for member-owners from December 24th – 30th, so it’s a perfect time to pick up a special cheese or two to help ring in the New Year. Read on to learn more about the roots of this northern Vermont farm and the people (and goats!) who make the magic happen:
When Rebecca Velazquez and Merlin Backus decided to leave NYC for a more rural life, they had no idea of the adventure they were about to embark upon. In 2013, after a few years of searching for a spot to drop new roots, they made the decision to return to Merlin’s hometown of Westfield, Vermont, where a parcel of land adjacent to Merlin’s family home had become available. The property sale happened to include a barn… hence the name Barn First!
Once the couple settled in Westfield, Rebecca set out to find work. She had a deep love of cheese, so Merlin’s father Dan thought it made perfect sense to connect her with fellow community member and award-winning goat cheesemaker Laini Fondiller of Lazy Lady Farm. Dan knew Laini well, as local connections tend to run deep in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. In fact, before Laini started her own goat farm, she’d worked with Dan as a logger and hog castrator. So Rebecca went to work for Laini, learning the ropes of goat husbandry, land management, and cheese care. Though Rebecca regularly turns to Laini with goat health care issues, she is quick to stress that she never asked Laini for cheesemaking tips or recipes, wanting to respect the relationship between the two of them, and Laini’s thirty-year legacy of goat cheese making.
While Rebecca was working for Lazy Lady Farm, she and Merlin got to work building a barn of their own and bought two old goats from Laini to begin their own fledgling herd. They hand-milked seven goats from 2013-2016 before their barn, milking parlor, and cheese room were up and running. Eventually, they picked up a few more goats from another esteemed Vermont goat dairy – Twig Farm. The Barn First herd now consists of just under 50 does, milked to produce pasteurized bottled goat milk, as well as seven types of award-winning aged goat cheeses. All of the goats are pastured when the weather allows, and their milk tastes like the fields and woods of Westfield, Vermont. The goats are milked seasonally, with a resting period every winter when the animals get ready for kidding in March. In a recent NFCA Cave to Co-op feature on Barn First Creamery, the author points out that “Rebecca and Merlin might be Laini’s protégées but they have their own distinct style, making cheeses that complement each other and can appear on a cheese board together.” The poetic names for each of their cheeses come from the maiden names of Rebecca and Merlin’s family trees.
Here a the Co-op, you can find Barn First Creamery’s bottled goat milk, along with four of their fantastic cheeses, including Breiba, Urdang, Quinby, and Malloy (the reigning 1st place champion at the prestigious American Cheese Society Awards!). Try them all and let us know your favorite!
We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight this week on one of the most awarded specialty food companies in North America- Trois Petits Cochons! Les Trois Petits Cochons has produced award-winning, all-natural pâté and charcuterie since 1975 by crafting small, handmade batches using only the finest high-quality ingredients. Their full product line is 20% off for member-owners from December 17th – 23rd – just in time to pick up something special for your holiday feast. Read on to learn more about this company that has been producing high-quality, hand-crafted products for over 40 years!
Les Trois Petits Cochons first opened its doors as a small charcuterie in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1975. It has since grown to become the leader in the pâté and charcuterie industry, offering a complete line of artisanal pâtés, mousses, terrines, sausages, saucissons, smoked meats and other French specialties. Their products have garnered a long list of SOFI awards, earning great respect in the culinary world.
Les Trois Petits Cochons is committed to continuing the tradition of making delicious, authentic and quality pâté and charcuterie for its customers. By combining time-honored recipes, choice ingredients, innovative cooking methods and strict quality control they are able to create consistent, handcrafted products. All of this, together with dedicated customer service and a passion for good food, have allowed Trois Petits Cochons to stay true to the small charcuterie where they began over 40 years ago.
The team at Les Trois Petits Cochons is committed to sourcing and producing the highest quality all-natural specialty food products in a responsible and sustainable manner.
They believe in:
Transparency – Customers should be able to know where their food comes from and be able to buy from companies committed to sustainable animal husbandry.
Trust & Relationships – They believe in partnering with those who can make the best product in the most responsible manner. They personally visit all of their major suppliers, the majority of whom are family farms, to make sure they are upholding the standards set by Les Trois Petits Cochons.
Local – Les Trois Petits Cochons always begins their search locally. Many of their suppliers come from within 100 miles of their production facilities, but sometimes to find that special ingredient they need to go further afield, including to France where they source many of their ingredients like wild mushrooms or espelette pepper.
The Middlebury Co-op has worked to create an inclusive, welcoming environment and foster diversity in many senses of the word. Battling economic inequality, which so plagues Vermont as a whole, has been a consistent priority for the co-op. Food For All, which covers investment costs and provides a 10% discount on all food products for those who struggle to access and afford healthy food, is one of many ways the Middlebury Co-op has made strides. The co-op also welcomes diversity in gender identity and sexuality, instituting changes such as offering preferred pronouns on each employee’s name tag.
But, despite the above, it has only been in the last year or so that the Middlebury Co-op has begun pushing for racial equity. This is through no fault of its own nor unique to the Middlebury Co-op. As an overwhelmingly white state, conversations surrounding racism and racial equity were delayed in getting deserved attention in Vermont — with co-ops being no exception. However, the current socio-political climate has made it clear that these are no longer issues to ignore.
Glenn Lower, the general manager of the Middlebury Co-op since ‘98, is committed to working toward racial equity in the food system, “access to all levels of the food system — production, processing, transportation, and retail consumers” as he defines it, no matter how uncomfortable or challenging these adjustments may be.
While the question of how to best increase racial diversity in employment and membership in a primarily white pool remains, the Middlebury Co-op has already begun planning and instituting some programs and supports it feels are strong steps in the right direction. Migrant workers, who account for a large portion of the non-white population in Vermont, is one focus. Last year, the co-op teamed up with Open Door Clinic and Addison Allies to begin exploring ways to reach migrant workers on farms who are food insecure. The Co-op traveled to several farms and enrolled a few dozen workers in their Food For All program. The Co-op, ODC, and Addison Allies are also exploring the possibility of a special order and pick-up/delivery system for traditional Latin foods, but this program has been shelved until the COVID crisis has eased.
The Middlebury Co-op is also shifting and expanding its network of food providers, looking to support more BIPOC run farms and businesses. Nonetheless, the Middlebury Co-op feels it is just getting started on this front. “We’re just starting to understand how big this issue is, and the Co-op has historically not gotten involved in political things,” says Lower. After George Floyd’s murder, the Middlebury Co-op helped raise around $25,000 for Rutland NAACP’s Juneteenth Fundraiser. The Co-op contributed matched donations up to $10,000. Moreover, annual elections provide the opportunity to elect new board members and vote on potential bylaw updates — both of which Lower sees as important routes for instituting change. The Middlebury Co-op is also encouraging its customers to get involved by providing feedback in person, via suggestion boxes, and/or over email.
Other Vermont co-ops are making a similar commitment to racial diversity and equity as well. Spearheaded by TJ Allen, who came on as general manager last September, the Rutland Co-op is working on getting involved in the Rutland and greater Vermont community. As a much smaller co-op without the same purchasing power and leverage as the Middlebury Co-op, the Rutland Co-op is focusing on providing as many affordable, local products as possible and finding diverse producers from which the co-op can sell their products. An extension of racial diversity, Rutland also works to foster economic diversity within its customer base through its bulk section offerings, the Community Covered program, which serves customers on food stamps, and its work with the Rutland Free Clinic on including people of diverse economic backgrounds.
The Rutland Co-op also utilizes partnerships, including those with the NAACP on broadcasting educational materials on racial justice and continual programming with Co-Fed, a BIPOC run organization that introduces the idea of co-ops to underserved populations. The Rutland Co-op hopes to sponsor a Zoom training on anti-racism soon, and going forward plans to support events centered on racial justice, as well as to uplift and look to BIPOC voices for guidance on this programming.
Similarly, the Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier runs a program, not unlike the Middlebury Co-op’s Food For All Program. The Hunger Mountain Co-op Cares Program encourages economic diversity in the customer population by offering a discount and assistance in paying equity for customers within a certain income bracket, a need gauged and addressed yearly through an income demographic customer survey. Additionally, the co-op has made available educational programming on racial equity, racial justice, food justice, and cultural competency for members, leadership, and staff to better understand and approach these issues.
Unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, much of the co-ops’ work has ceased as a result of the pandemic. Many Vermont farms are limiting human traffic on and off the farm, thus, making the Middlebury Co-op’s catering and shuttling plans difficult to implement. Co-ops are also unable to continue the traditional in-person community outreach and education programs in the same manner. This is particularly true for those still in the fetus stages and requiring micromanagement, as is the case for many of the programs aimed at addressing racial equity and access to healthy, affordable food for all. With the new demands of the pandemic, many encounter difficulties in finding the time within business hours and financial resources for modified programming.
Racial inequity is still ever-present in the post-pandemic world, making these efforts to combat it within the food system relevant and critical moving forward.
Jenny Langerman and Charlotte Gehring are Middlebury College students
‘Tis the season for dazzling confections and we’re thrilled to shine our Member Deals Spotlight on a local family-owned bakery that brings some of the tastiest local treats to our Co-op shelves – 3 Bears Bakery! Read on to learn more about the family behind these decadently delicious artisan pastries, cakes, and shortbreads hailing from nearby Orwell, Vermont:
Established in 2008 by Andre and Claire Konstant, 3 Bears Bakery has been providing the local community with English and European baked goods for over 12 years.
Claire, having been raised in England, and Andre, having traveled extensively throughout western Europe, wanted to bring the tastes of these cultures to small-town Vermont. For 12 years they have been handcrafting artisan breads, pastries, cakes, shortbreads, and sweets for their local farmers’ market and small stores using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, but always focusing on the highest quality first.
Being a small family-owned business, their focus is truly local. You can find their treats at a short list of local co-ops and markets including our Co-op, the Rutland Co-op, the Rutland Farmer’s Market, Buxton’s General Store, and the Lake Hortonia General Store. They’ve also been known to fill the farmstand at Squier Family Farm with their treats from time to time.
We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on a local organic creamery that produces delicious award-winning cheeses just a few short miles from the Co-op. Champlain Valley Creamery uses traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheese entirely by hand in a net-zero solar-powered facility in Middlebury. Their fantastic lineup of cheeses are all 20% off for Member-owners from December 3rd – 9th! Read on to learn more about this fabulous local creamery and the people who make it shine:
Champlain Valley Creamery was first established in 2003 by founder and owner Carleton Yoder. With a graduate degree in food science and a background in wine and hard cider making, Yoder was eager to run his own food business. With Vermont’s abundance of amazing local milk, small-scale cheesemaking just made sense. Yoder began his adventures in cheesemaking in a facility in Vergennes where he focused on two products: Organic Champlain Triple and Old Fashioned Organic Cream Cheese. Both have been awarded well-deserved honors from the prestigious American Cheese Society.
Over the years, the creamery has continued to grow and expand its offerings, eventually moving into a net-zero solar-powered facility on Middlebury’s Exchange Street in 2012. Yoder and his small crew now produce an expanded lineup of cheeses including Queso Fresco (available in original, house-smoked, and pepper varieties), Maple Cream Cheese, a pyramid-shaped triple cream with a layer of ash known as Pyramid Scheme, and, most recently, they began importing Italian truffles to produce the Champlain Truffle Triple.
The Creamery also made a switch last year to using 100% grass-fed organic milk from the Severy Farm in Cornwall. The milk only travels a few short miles from the farm to the creamery, where the cheesemaking begins within hours of arrival. The use of grass-fed milk results in a richer, creamier cheese that displays subtle seasonal changes reflective of the changing diet of the cows as the seasons progress. It’s truly the terroir of Addison County in each decadent bite of cheese.
Yoder is supported by a small crew that is just as dedicated to the craft as he is. They use traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheeses entirely by hand. A recent visit to their facility found the crew in constant motion, measuring, stirring, monitoring temperatures, and generally putting every bit of the day’s fresh batch of milk to good use. The bulk of the cream and whole milk is used to produce the Organic Champlain Triple, Champlain Truffle Triple, and the two varieties of cream cheese. The part-skim milk is then transformed into each of the three varieties of Queso Fresco, and the whey is drained off to create hand-dipped, basket-strained ricotta that is only available to a few select restaurants in the area. The only remaining by-product is a small amount of whey, which is sent to feed the happy pigs at Hinesburg’s Full Moon Farm, resulting in an operation that is hyper-local with very minimal waste.
According to Yoder, “cheesemaking is hard work but we strive to let the milk, cream, culture, salt, and mold shine through with their amazing flavors.” It’s this minimalist approach and the desire to honor the high-quality local ingredients that make Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheeses shine.