January 2021

Check Out Faster and Keep Your Dollars

When you purchase food at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op (MNFC), you support the hundreds of local producers who live in our area, and you are keeping the money in local circulation. And, as a member-owner, you own shares in this store and will receive an annual patronage refund based on your purchase history! The shares you hold represent your whole-hearted commitment to community-produced and distributed healthy foods.  

Did you know you can increase another aspect of “keeping it local” by simply adjusting how you pay at checkout? In past articles I’ve written to make folks aware of this topic, I noted that MNFC paid more than $100,000, then $150,000, and then the number was close to $200,000 in annual credit card fees! The fees have been increasing each year. Last year in 2020, we paid $272,161 in credit card fees! Consider that this startling amount of money is extracted from our local community and flows to out-of-state banks. Think about what could be done locally with these funds, either through increased community supports, or improvements in customer services. While I certainly do not want to “guilt” anyone for using a credit card, there are options to consider for avoiding those fees. The use of checks or cash is one possibility, but this is not always convenient.

The easiest way to avoid the fees and using up checks or having cash on hand is to use an MNFC Gift Card for all of your Co-op purchases. This card can be obtained from any cashier, and you decide how much money you want on the card. Simply write a check for that amount, then use the gift card every time you shop. The card acts like a credit card with your money on it, but there are no fees. It is another form of “cash” and thus should be kept in a secure place. There is a number associated with each card that can be found on the back. I keep a photo of the id number of my card on my phone so it is always handy and secure. If you lose the card, the card can be deactivated if you have the number, and a cashier can look up your balance and apply it to a new card.  The gift card works just like a credit card or check or cash and is linked to your coop account.  The balance of the card shows up at the bottom of each receipt every time you make a  purchase so you can keep track. When the balance runs low, simply write another check or use cash to load the same card with more money! I tend to reload each month, and it keeps me on my food budget! I remind you that writing a check or using cash to add money to the card is the way to go; if you use a debit or credit card, it defeats the purpose.

There are several advantages to this process:

  • You can budget what you believe is reasonable for you to spend at the Co-op, say for a month’s time, and keep track of your spending.
  • Going through the checkout line is extremely quick and efficient. The cashier scans your card, you get a receipt, and you’re done! Nothing to sign, no check to write, no numbers to punch in, no waiting for change. The cashiers like the ease of this process and you’re apt to get some unsolicited positive regard from them.
  • During the surge of COVID, using the gift card minimizes contact involved with using common pens, dealing with the credit card terminal, and handling cash.
  • Finally, remember that an MNFC gift card is a wonderful way to give anyone a present, for any occasion. An MNFC gift card can encourage someone new to the Co-op to make their first visit and can introduce long time customers to this very efficient way of paying for purchases.
  • Most importantly, using a Coop gift card this way eliminates the credit and debit card fees the Co-op has to pay to banks and financial. Don’t forget, debit cards have fees as well!

Once you try it, you’ll wonder why you have not done this all along. It is such a quick and convenient way to pay for your groceries, and keep your dollars local – it is truly a win-win. This is how I have paid for my MNFC shopping for the last five years, and I intend to for the next five years and more! It’s a great intention to set for the rest of 2021, I encourage you to give it a go!  I think you’ll love it!

Louise Vojtisek is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member

Racial Justice and Your Co-op

Sadly, the news is full of incidents of racial injustice across our country, including here in Vermont. Are you surprised by this? Check out this excellent program on VPR’s Brave Little State entitled, Why is Vermont So Overwhelmingly White?, and hear from several people of color living in Vermont sharing their often sad and shocking experiences.

At your Co-op, we are committed to supporting black, indigenous, and people of color in our community.  Everyone is welcome at the Co-op as we strive to create a safe and welcoming environment for customers and staff.  I’m happy to report that in our most recent data analysis of the random customer surveys connected to your receipts, in the last three months, 99% of 280 customers who answered the survey chose a 5 (out of 5) for saying they feel welcome at the Co-op.  Of course, we know there are still some people who do not always feel welcome, so we won’t rest on our laurels.  

I last reported on our work early this past summer when we held a fundraiser for the local chapter of the NAACP in Rutland, raising $25,000 to support their work. Since then, and despite the challenges of COVID, we have been busy educating ourselves about systemic racism and working toward becoming a more welcoming co-op for all members of our community.   

Here are some of the concrete actions we’ve taken in recent months:

  • Several board members and I recently participated in the six-month Abolitionist Challenge designed for food co-op staff and board members across the country. Each month we read a different book on racial justice, and then over 100 of us met to discuss these via Zoom.
  • As a regional spin-off from the group above, our Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) convened a smaller group of GMs and board members to meet monthly to share what steps our co-ops are taking toward this community challenge. NFCA is made up of over 30 co-ops in New England.  Much of the talk is about how to lead in being more welcoming.  I appreciate Hunger Mt. Co-op saying, “we respect differences, honor each person, value unique stories, and seek to learn from each other.  We succeed when you feel this is your co-op.”  And City Market saying, “we have to start doing justice work for the demographics we have, whatever they are, and lead from a place of ethics and justice.”
  • The Middlebury Co-op Board of Directors just had their annual retreat in January which was focused on increasing education about racism and its impacts, then thinking about the next steps. We’ll talk more at the January board meeting and will report back to co-op member-owners.
  • On the national stage, food co-ops across the country are exploring how to work together to build a positive and inclusive culture that values a diversity of ideas, perspectives, and identities.
  • Despite the challenges of COVID with no in-person meetings, your Co-op managers and assistant managers began a series of trainings with Renee Wells, the Director of Education for Equity and Inclusion at Middlebury College, focused on how to handle microaggressions when they occur in the Co-op. Next, we plan to do trainings with all staff via Zoom in the coming months. 
  • Co-op staff have been having open conversations as well as book groups on racial justice and unconscious bias for the past two years. Recently we bought 10 copies of Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.  We believe that self-learning is a powerful first step toward an antiracist community. Other books we’ve explored together include White Fragility by Robin Diangelo, So you want to talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo,  and My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem.

Since all white people are a product of racist culture, I realize we have a lifetime of work to unlearn racist attitudes and behaviors. I’m understanding more and more that we are on a life-long journey of learning that has no discernable end, but which is moving us closer to a more equitable and inclusive society.  We invite you to join us on the journey and share your ideas on how we might reach our goal of creating a welcoming and inclusive Co-op for everyone.

Glenn Lower is the General Manager of Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op

Consider Being a Board Member…

Election season for the Board of Directors is upon us! I am frequently asked why I choose to be a member of the Co-op board.  We are all familiar with the refrain “voting with your dollars” as a shared value of conscious consumers.  I choose to spend my money at the Co-op because I believe in this slogan. And, I choose to be a member of the Board of Directors because I similarly believe in the concept of “voting with your time.” Being a member of the board allows me to “spend” my time committing to democracy.

Wendell Berry writes: “No matter how much one may love the world as a whole, one can live fully in it only by living responsibly in some small part of it.” In these unsettled times, participating in the democratic leadership of a cooperatively owned, local business allows me to practice living responsibly in my small part of the world. Our Co-op may seem like a small fish in the big pond of the globe—whether we buy organic, fair trade chocolate chips at the Co-op, or conventional chocolate chips from Amazon may seem dolefully inconsequential in the face of the massive social-justice issues our world faces. Participating in the democratic ownership of the Co-op, however, allows me to devote my dollars, time, and energy (the only resources I am fully in control of) to the pursuit of an alternative to our global status quo.

During our election season, I urge you to remember Wendell Berry’s concept.  Your decisions and interest matter – whether you are considering running for a spot on the board, or reading up on board candidates to vote in May.  Our Co-op may be small, but participating in the democratic process of our board elections allows us to practice living responsibly in our small part of the world, and thereby living fully in the world as a whole.

Board Recruiting Packets with details on the process of becoming and serving as a board member are available on the website here.  Applications are due March 15, 2021. If you have any questions about running for or serving on the board, please reach out to board@middleburycoop.com.  

Amanda Warren is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member



Spotlight on Daily Chocolate

Looking for something sweet for your sweetie? Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with your partner, celebrating Galentine’s Day with your best gals, or simply treating yourself to some self-love this Valentine’s Day, we think that a special treat from Daily Chocolate is a perfect way to celebrate. Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on this local chocolatier and all of their decadent products are 20% off for member-owners from February 4th – 10th. Read on to learn more about this sweet little chocolate shop hailing from Vergennes, Vermont, and the people who put the love into the chocolate:


Daily Chocolate opened in 2006, the creation of Florey Mahoney and her partner Chris White. Three years later, after planting firm roots at 7 Green Street, the shop was purchased by Jen Roberts and Judd Markowski, an extended family of the shop’s originators.

Jen continued to operate the Daily Chocolate for the next ten years, vastly expanding the menu, and growing its reputation for creating delectable and unique confections. Under Jen’s creativity, she expanded the wholesale markets throughout Addison and Chittenden Counties. Thanks to Jen, Daily Chocolate can be found at numerous coffee shops, farms, and healthy food markets. Helping Jen along the way was Christina Caniyo, author, apothecary, and chocolatier, who was with the shop since it first opened in 2005. Also, a regular at Daily Chocolate, Vergennes artist and chocolatier Bethany Farrell.

On December 1st of 2020 Daily Chocolate changed hands once again. Leading the shop into a new decade is artist and chocolatier Dawn Wagner.

Dawn Wagner

Dawn’s first foray into chocolate was in the mid-’90s at Lake Champlain Chocolates. During her three years there she created some of the factory’s finer chocolates, produced entirely by hand, including many sculptures and other decorative pieces. After moving to NYC to pursue her theatrical career, Dawn continued to make chocolate both professionally for El Eden in the East Village, and privately through her own company cocoSNAP!

In 2016, after nearly 20 years in NYC working both Off and On-Broadway, Dawn, and her husband, actor Jeremy Holm made their triumphant return to Vergennes, Vermont. An old family friend to Jen’s husband Judd, Dawn immediately began working seasonally at Daily Chocolate beside Jen, and very happily joined the team full-time in the spring of 2019.

It is one of Dawn’s dreams-come-true to not only operate a chocolate shop but to be able to do it surrounded by friends and family in her home town.

Quality Ingredients

Daily Chocolate works hard to choose the finest ingredients for our recipes. We use natural, whole foods, free of artificial flavors and colors. Our chocolate is soy-free, and all of our recipes have been modified to remove corn syrup and white sugar. We are committed to shopping locally and organic whenever possible. We are happy to support our local farmers by using Monument Farms dairy, local Vermont maple syrup, & honey, Lincoln Peak Wine, and Cabot Creamery’s butter.


Daily Chocolate is committed to the wellbeing of our planet. Over the past few years, we have worked hard to reduce excessive plastics and increase recycled and biodegradable packaging and shipping materials. Please don’t forget about the luckiest chickens in Addison County, the recipients of the contents of the Daily Chocolate compost bin.

Ethical Practices

We are grateful for the equatorial farmers of West Africa and South America who grow the magical Theobroma Cacao plants that give us chocolate. We promise to source ethically and work with companies who comply with international standards, to end child and slave labor, and to pay these hard-working farm families a fair wage.


Making Chocolate is like making theatre. It’s magical, a little mysterious, and when done correctly, it’s moving. Here at Daily Chocolate, we are committed to keeping our ideas fresh, our flavors inventive, and our look beautiful.

Spotlight on Late July

Are chips and dip part of your Super Bowl game day spread? Then you’ll be thrilled to hear that our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Late July this week! All of their products are 20% off for member-owners from January 28th – February 3rd.  Read on to learn more about them:



Late July is named for that sweet spot of summer when life feels simple, pure & good and it’s also their philosophy on snack-making. They believe that the best parties need a few simple things — great friends, good stories and delicious food! At Late July, these three things always come together around a big bowl of delicious tortilla chips. That is why they take so much care in using the highest quality ingredients without sacrificing on taste. They care deeply about using organic and non-GMO ingredients and making chips for everyone at the party. 

Their snacks stand out in a crowded snack aisle, not just because of their delicious taste, but also because of their commitment to sourcing the highest quality organic and non-GMO ingredients that are free of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. You’ll find a variety of gluten-free, vegan, Kosher and nut-free offerings to please every palate.

They hope that you enjoy eating their snacks as much as they enjoy making them!


Spotlight on Cabot Creamery

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Cabot Creamery this week to shed a little light on this 100-year-old cooperative creamery, established at a time when cows outnumbered people in Vermont. Cabot’s full line of dairy products is 20% for member-owners from January 21st – 27th! Read on to learn all about their humble beginnings, the local farmers that are part of this cooperative, and how the Cabot name became synonymous with dairy in Vermont:


The Cabot Creamery, headquartered in Waitsfield, VT, is a cooperative made up of more than 800 dairy farm families located throughout New York and New England. They also manage four plants in three states, employing over 1,000 people, who make “The World’s Best” cheese and dairy products.

The Cabot story reaches back to the beginning of the 20th century. In those days, the cost of farming was low and most farmers produced way more milk than they could market. So, in 1919, farmers from the Cabot area figured that if they joined forces, they could turn their excess milk into butter and market it throughout New England. Ninety-four farmers jumped on board, purchased the village creamery (built in 1983), and began producing butter.

Lucas Dairy Farm – Orwell, VT

Over the next two decades, as the nation’s population flocked to urban areas, Cabot’s farmer-owners thrived by shipping their milk and butter south. While the national economy shifted away from agriculture, the Vermont economy was still largely based on dairy farming. In fact, in 1930, cows outnumbered people! It was at this time that the company hired its first cheesemaker and cheddar cheese entered the product line for the first time. By 1960, Cabot’s membership reached 600 farm families at a time when the total number of operating farms around the nation was in sharp decline.

Steady growth continued and 1992 was a pivotal year in Cabot’s history as their farmer-owners merged with the 1,800 farm families of Agri-mark, a southern New England co-op dating back to 1918. 

Four Hills Farm – Bristol, VT

Today, Cabot’s future looks bright. Their company blends state-of-the-art facilities and a savvy entrepreneurial spirit with the timeless values and personal commitment to quality that comes from being 100% owned by their farm families. In the Middlebury facility, they installed a  huge new piece of machinery that allows them to process 4,000 more pounds of cheese curd per hour than the 8,000 pounds the previous machine handled. This 22-ton piece of equipment known as the CheeseMaster will increase the production of the 26 truck-sized vats — each holding enough milk to make 6,000 pounds of cheese — that get filled daily.

The Middlebury facility runs 24 hours a day/seven days a week and serves to make and age Cabot’s famous Vermont Cheddar. The plant also processes whey liquids, which are leftover from the cheesemaking process, to produce whey proteins and permeate, which is sold around the world. Additionally, the facility serves as a warehouse for cheese and whey products, with the capacity to store up to 2 million pounds of cheese. On a daily basis, 114 Vermont and New York dairy farmers supply the milk for the Middlebury plant, although that number increases on weekends and holidays when other plants are closed. Addison County is one of the largest membership areas in the farmers’ coop, helping to supply the milk that comes to the plant every day.

Cher-Mi Farm – North Orwell, VT

To learn more about the eight farms in Addison County that are part of the Cabot Cooperative, click on the links below:



Spotlight on Honeywilya Fish

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Honeywilya Fish! All of their succulent sustainable seafood is 20% off for member-owners from January 14th – 20th! Read on to learn more about this unique local business that brings high quality, hook-and-line-caught wild Alaskan seafood to our Co-op shelves and the angler that makes it all possible:

For angler Lynn Steyaart, this fish tale begins on the shores of Georgia where he grew up fly fishing with his dad and watching the shrimp boats come into port. His path eventually led him to school at UVM, then on to adventures in commercial fishing in Alaska. It was here that Lynn met his wife, Maria, who had grown up in Chester, Vermont, but was spending some time as a wilderness ranger in Alaska. It was also there that Lynn purchased a commercial salmon troller called the “Honeywilya”, marking the exciting beginning of a new livelihood.




Lynn and Maria are now settled in Duxbury, Vermont, though Lynn still spends 6 months of the year fishing the 500-mile stretch of ocean in Southeastern Alaska from Ketchikan to Yakatak. Ideally, he returns home to Vermont with 700-800 pounds of seafood, which he sells to friends, neighbors, and a select few lucky local stores, including our Co-op.



All of Honeywilya Fish’s seafood is wild, sustainably caught by hook-and-line, individually landed, immediately cleaned, and gently handled by the Honeywilya crew. Without the use of nets, this small quantity catch method ensures an attention to detail and superior quality with each fish. Steyaart and his crew sustainably harvest King, Coho, and Ivory King Salmon, as well as Halibut and Lingcod. Immediately cleaned then flash-frozen, this fish will taste as good as the day it came out of the ocean. They bring their bounty back to Vermont every year to share the finest seafood the Pacific has to offer! 


Steyaart says it’s tough to leave his wife behind for half of each year and the days working on the boat can be long and strenuous, but it’s surprisingly easy to stay in touch. Because cruise ships frequent the southern Alaska coastline, cellphone coverage is surprisingly good where Lynn fishes and Maria hears from him often. And occasionally, as her schedule permits, she has even joined him on the boat.


Spotlight on Garden of Life

We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Garden of Life! Their entire line of products are 20% off for member-owners from January 7th – 13th, so if your New Year’s resolution involved boosting your wellness routine, it’s a great time to give them a try! Read on to learn more about their mission to empower extraordinary health!

The Science of Whole Food

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

Clean is Healthy

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

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


Traceability is key to what makes Garden of Life’s products so special. Traceability starts with knowing where each and every ingredient in their products come from and getting to know each and every source: where it’s grown; the farming practices; how they pay and treat the farm workers—everything. Their mykind Organics line, co-founded with Alicia Silverstone, is made with Organic fruit and herbs—every single product in this line is Certified USDA Organic and Non-GMO Verified by the Non-GMO Project. 

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


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

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



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


Wellness Wonders: Oxymels

What is an oxymel?

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:

  1. Fill a pint jar 1/4 full of your choice of herbs.
  2. Cover with equal parts apple cider vinegar and honey to fill jar.
  3. Stir to incorporate.
  4. 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.
  5. Shake jar until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Store jar in a cool, dark place to extract for two weeks. Shake jar at least twice a week to assist in extraction.
  7. 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.
  8. Pour strained oxymel into glass storage jars or bottles.
  9. Label and date.
  10. Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use. When stored properly, shelf life is approximately 6 months.


Featured Co-op Connection Business – Green Mountain Adventures

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.

Steve and Marion Atocha
Steve Atocha with his sons

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 their summer and winter 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.