June 2021

Talking with Megan Brakelely at The Knoll at Middlebury College.

Walking the TAM from either direction to The Knoll at Middlebury College is an other-worldly experience. From one direction the path meanders along open fields and through a little magical forest filled with fairies. From the other side, the path winds alongside another type of current (pun intended) day magic – large flat square objects that follow the sun transforming sunlight into electricity to support the renewable power portfolio of Middlebury College.  Once upon The Knoll the Labyrinth and Dalai Lama rock beckon the visitor to slow down and just be, surrounded by the vast perennial, vegetable, and flower beds. 

The Knoll is tended by Middlebury College students under the guidance of Megan Brakeley and other Middlebury staff.  Megan brings a great vibe and deep experience with farming to her tending of The Knoll similar to her predecessor Jay Leshinsky balancing and harmonizing the needs of non-human living beings with human living beings.  Megan graduated from Middlebury College in 2006 with a degree in Spanish and a minor in Environmental Studies. After seven years of learning from her students and the land through teaching and farming after graduation, Megan pursued a Masters of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment.

I’ve known Megan since her days in the Center for Community Engagement at Middlebury, and have been witness to what she calls one of her superpowers, “navigating and advocating for different kinds of spaces.”   Whether you are a silphium (The Land Institute’s perennial sunflower) in need of some ground to call home, a student finding your “place” at Middlebury, or you are seeking an organizer with deep knowledge of sustainable farming who is calm and centered (Megan is on the Organizing Squad VT Releaf Collectively) you will not regret knowing Megan. 

As a mentor for students and a mentee of many others as she expands her connection to the BIPOC farming community in Vermont, she feels fortunate that Jay worked alongside her as she transitioned to running The Knoll. Megan brings a great laugh, a huge smile, and a deep knowing that is instantly comforting.  While many of us at the Coop know Jay from his many years on our Board of Directors, serving as president, Megan has been grateful for his stewardship at The Knoll.  The Knoll was founded by students just a couple of years ahead of Megan at Middlebury who also benefited from Jay’s wisdom.  “Jay is someone who holds experiences and lets them soften him.  He has a gentleness with others, is always curious, generous, generative, and creates space for others,” Megan reflected. Jay and Megan shared stories and tea during early morning meetings at the Wilson Cafe on campus during the transition. Jay shared the origin story of the Knoll with Megan at that time, which emerged from many voices and many hands to come into the shape it is today.

One of the things Megan brings to her work, and to these uncertain and even chaotic times, is curiosity about leadership.  What does it look like to support sustainable farming practices in Vermont – in the BIPOC community beyond her Middlebury College work?  How are these spaces held, how are they re-claimed?  Megan is stepping into her own as a leader, accomplice, and amplifier as she considers the current state of the world and her place in it.  She works for the shift believing in the work required to change the dominant power structures to create access, equity, and inclusion. “Leadership, representation, fresh ideas, and familiarity with reimagining and thinking outside existing hegemonies matters,” Megan observes. “What does it mean to ‘center voices’ in a holistic way where we also acknowledge past harm, work toward making amends, and do the real reparative work to actively resource the people who can transform and guide this work?”  These are ideas and actions the Board’s recently formed Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) committee is addressing.

And, how does all that relate to growing food in the role of the educator? Megan brings her questions and her insights “growing food means becoming intimate with multiple intelligences, seeds, dirt, weather, tending.  How can we as a community feed and nourish each other? What does it mean to be free and in service to each other and the land?”   

Recent good news is that the summer intern program will be back this summer at The Knoll where students collectively work the land taking the blank garden spaces and choosing as a group the story the land will share during a 16-week space.  “Working with natural systems is always an adventure, we work hard, are thoughtful, do our best, and then roll with what comes each summer,” Megan said.

Nadine Canter Barnicle is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member and a member of our Communications and Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committees.

 

 

Spotlight on Butterworks Farm

Butterworks Farm is basking in the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their local, organic, grass-fed dairy products are 20% off for member-owners from July 1st – July 7th. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over 46 years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sequestration, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty-six years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne) and a desire to live “happily ever after as a couple of back-to-the-landers.” By 1979, the couple was selling yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw milk locally to a growing fan base. Over the next several decades, Jack and Anne continued to blaze new trail as leaders in organic farming, laying a firm foundation for the robust local food system whose fruits we’re lucky to enjoy today.

Along the way, Jack managed to find time to teach classes in organic agriculture at the University of Vermont, give frequent inspirational keynote addresses at organic farming conferences, fervently advocate for the adoption of organic practices, particularly within the dairy sector, and write a book called “The Organic Grain Grower” which Mother Earth News dubbed “the best resource we’ve seen for small-scale grain growers everywhere.” Jack was known for being an avid perpetual student as he and Anne exhaustively researched ways to farm with environmental stewardship at the forefront. 

In 2010, Jack was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spent seven years on dialysis for cancer-related kidney failure. Over that period of time, Anne kept Jack and the farm running, serving as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire Butterworks team. After a long and courageous fight, Jack lost his battle with cancer in November of 2020. Jack and Anne’s daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks Farm and now has a family of her own. A deep love for the team, the farm, the animals, the products, and the mountains keep her inspired as she and her family carry on the rich farming traditions that her parents began.

Jack & Anne Lazor

Anne and Jack Lazor were awarded NOFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and were the first organic farmers to be inducted into the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame. NOFA-VT was also proud to launch a soil health cohort program this year to honor the legacy and wisdom of Jack Lazor. This cohort will promote farmer-to-farmer education and relationship building in an effort to address both short-term mitigation strategies around soil health as well as long-term systems change. This cohort will prioritize farmers who are, or wish to become great educators and will continue to share what they learn with other farmers through mentorship or by hosting workshops in the future. In this way, the funds will continue to pay it forward and honor Jack’s legacy for years to come. Several Addison County farmers including Chad & Morgan Beckwith of Ice House Farm were honored as part of the inaugural class of soil stewards. To see the full list, click here.

 

The lucky cows of Butterworks Farm are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. Jerseys were chosen for their ability to produce exceptional milk on a 100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are always available to the cows in the lush, rotationally grazed pastures of summer and the sweet hay in the winter solar barn.

Their farming methods have evolved over the years. For the first forty years, they were grain growers and hay producers. Cereal crops such as oats, wheat, and barley, along with row crops like corn and soy fit neatly into their crop rotations with grasses and legumes. From the straw for the animals’ bedding to the grain the cows ate, everything was grown on the farm. Over the years, as their soil health and fertility increased, the quality of their forages improved until they realized that they could likely reduce the amount of grain that was being fed to the cows. By 2016, they had phased out grains completely and became a 100% grass-fed dairy, rotating the cows on fresh pasture every twelve hours.  

 

Jack shared in a Butterwork’s Farm blog post that, “our transition to 100% grass-fed is well worth it.  Despite the fact that we will need more land and sharpened management skills to do this, we are very happy to promote more grass and less grain (and subsequently less tillage) on the land that we steward.  More grass means more fibrous root systems in the soil.  Less grain means less tillage and better soil health.  Less tillage means less burning of fossil fuels and less disturbance to the delicate balance of microorganisms in our soils. Our primary goal in farming is to take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and through photosynthesis, lock it up in the Earth’s crust as humus and organic matter.  Higher carbon levels in the soil are the number one weapon that we as humans have to reduce and eliminate the effects of a changing climate.”

Rebuild Better Together!

On Saturday, July 3rd, your Co-op is joining co-operatives and credit unions around the world in celebrating International Co-ops Day.  This year’s theme, Rebuild Better Together, highlights the resilience of co-ops during the pandemic and the role they are playing in helping our communities rebuild in a more inclusive and sustainable way. International Co-ops Day has been celebrated annually since 1923, and the theme this year was chosen by the ICA and the United Nations to raise awareness of how co-ops have helped their communities weather the pandemic and are contributing to efforts to rebuild the economy. 

“Across our region, food co-ops have worked to keep their communities safe while ensuring access to healthy, local food,” said Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA).  “And as we work to build back better, we know that our co-ops will be taking the lead in working together to ensure a more healthy, just, and sustainable future for everyone.” The NFCA is a regional federation of more than 40 food co-ops and startups, locally owned by more than 163,000 members and employing over 2,340 people. 

During the pandemic, co-ops have been leaders in working to ensure that shoppers could access healthy food while remaining safe, including online ordering, curbside pick-up, and special shopping hours for at-risk consumers.  At the same time, they remained committed to local producers, selling more than $100 million in local products annually – or over 25% of store sales, on average.  Thanks to your local purchases, your Co-op is proud to have sold over $6.5 million in Vermont products, representing 34% of total store sales. Last year, more than 12,000 people joined their Neighboring Food Co-ops throughout the region, reflecting a growing interest in food security, community ownership, and economic inclusion. Member-ownership at your Co-op reflected this positive trend, as just shy of 5,500 local households became member-owners or maintained member-ownership in your Co-op by the end of the fiscal year.

Our curbside pickup team worked hard to create systems and fulfill orders to allow community members to minimize their exposure during the pandemic.

The challenges of the past year illuminated the value of resilient local and regional food systems and laid bare the weaknesses inherent in a centralized, industrialized model. Pre-pandemic, Americans were made to believe that a consolidated, vertically integrated food system aimed at increasing profits through efficiency and low wages was the only way to affordably feed ourselves. But images in the news of farmers destroying crops, dumping milk, and euthanizing livestock while a record number of Americans lined up at food banks and applied for food assistance programs in order to feed their families forced us to awaken to the reality that this system is fatally flawed. The pandemic-related disruptions to our national food supply forced many of us to rethink how we feed ourselves. In the process, we became more acutely aware of where our food is coming from and gained a renewed sense of appreciation for the hands that feed us.

Store shelves at the Co-op were abundantly stocked with local foods from the 400+ local farmers and producers that we partner with, while shelves at large chain grocery stores remained empty. We were even able to forge many new partnerships with local farmers and producers to fill voids caused by national supply chain disruptions. This awakening has instilled a more deeply vested interest in figuring out how we can prepare for greater food security on a state and regional scale and food co-ops are well-positioned to play a pivotal role.

Grocery Manager Jen worked hard to secure plenty of toilet paper to keep our shelves stocked during the national TP shortage

Structural changes in our economy have also brought renewed attention to the co-operative model. As member-owned, democratically-operated entities, co-operatives offer an alternative to traditional shareholder- or proprietor-owned business structures allowing co-ops to make unique contributions to economical activity, community vitality, and worker well-being. The very structure of a cooperative requires that it be responsive to the needs of its member-owners and, in turn, to the local community. The nature of cooperatives is inherently both locally based and participatory, embodying a direct connection between member needs and the services provided. Because of this, cooperatives are able to contribute directly to community vitality and stability, modeling equitable and inclusive economic practices. 

  • For every $1,000 spent at a food co-op, $1,604 is invested back into the local economy.
  • Food co-ops create 9.3 jobs per $1 million in sales, compared to 5.8 at traditional grocery stores.
  • Food co-operatives pay about 7% more than traditional grocery stores for the same work. Our co-op was proud to increase our starting wage to $15 per hour this year.
  • Compared to conventional grocery stores, food co-ops recycle nearly double the volume of plastics and food waste.
  • Local products make up an average of 21% of food Co-op sales (and represent 34% of sales at your co-op!), compared to the national grocery store average of 1.8%.
  • In 2020, your Co-op donated $127,289 to local nonprofits and in-kind food donations to our local food shelves.

 

“In the last year, we have witnessed how the co-operative model has been working towards the well-being of people and respect for the planet, underscoring what the co-operative movement stands for,” says Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).  “We will indeed rebuild better together, and I’m confident that we will see many stories of how the co-operative movement can help communities become stronger in the post-pandemic world.”

Your Co-op General Manager, Glenn Lower shares that “we are so proud of how well this Co-op served our community over the past year; a year filled with more challenges than ever before in our Co-op’s history. The Co-op truly exemplified what an essential business can be by providing healthy food for the community, an economic outlet for Vermont producers, and good jobs for our committed staff. Through our solidarity, we demonstrate every day how we are stronger together and how we can have a positive impact on our world.”

As part of Co-ops Day celebrations, food co-ops across the Northeast are demonstrating their commitment to their communities and to building more inclusive economies as we work to rebuild in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  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.

To explore the ways that food co-ops are helping to rebuild better together by strengthening communities, keeping it local, making good food affordable and accessible, building a more racially just food system, and responding to the climate crisis, be sure to see the latest Food Co-op Impact Report complied by National Co-op Grocers (NCG).

Spotlight on Blue Ledge Farm

We’re thrilled to shine our Member Deals 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! From June 24th – 30th, member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all of Blue Ledge Farm’s delicious cheeses! Read on to learn more about Blue Ledge Farm and the family that brings it to life:

 

 

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. 

The team at Blue Ledge Farm

The farm began as a dream hatched by Hannah and Greg more than 20 years ago when they met in Florence, Italy while traveling throughout Europe to learn more about the arts and culture of the region. Upon returning home, the couple began transforming a retired dairy farm back into production with their Alpine and LaMancha dairy goats. They started with just four goats, but have grown and expanded over the years, now milking 125 goats twice daily and producing fourteen types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to firmer aged cheeses.

They also launched a partnership with neighboring MoSe Farm to produce a line of cow’s milk cheeses. Seth and Monika at MoSe Farm milk Ayrshire cows, a breed known for having superior milk for cheese-making. Twice a week Blue Ledge Farm receives a fresh milk delivery from MoSe Farm which is immediately processed into smooth, buttery Camembrie; creamy, yet crumbly Middlebury Blue; apple cider-washed Richville;  or their newest cheese, a gouda-style Moosalamoo. They also blend the cow’s milk with their goat’s milk to make an aged cheese known as Riley’s 2×4

Seth and Monika from MoSe Farm

In keeping with their mission, sustainable farming practices are a top priority at Blue Ledge Farm. They compost their bed-pack manure and apply it to their fields, thereby creating a closed-loop cycle from grass to goat and back to grass. The goats graze and forage throughout most of the year, which is healthy for the goats, healthy for the consumer, and beneficial to the environment. In 2008 they built an underground aging facility, or “cave”, allowing them to store cheese underground in a naturally cool and moist environment while using considerably less energy to keep the temperature and humidity at desirable levels. They have partnered with Efficiency Vermont on several projects over the years, from a variable-speed efficient milking machine, to more efficient cooling compressors, to newer fluorescent light bulbs, all in an effort to reduce environmental impact. At the heart of their operation is a clean-burning EPA-Approved bio-mass furnace, allowing them to heat their home, cheese-house, and barn, as well as all of the hot water used in the cheese plant, with locally-produced wood pellets! And In 2015 they covered the south-facing roof of their barn with solar panels which provide nearly half of the farm’s electricity usage all summer long!

Hannah and Greg made some incredibly nimble moves over the past year 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! With the mandatory closure of restaurants and institutions across the state, sales for Vermont’s specialty cheese producers dropped 50-70% almost overnight. As Hannah shared in a blog post last May, “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.” The shift entailed adopting a direct-to-consumer model, and they found some very creative ways to get their cheeses directly to you, including the addition of a mini-fridge to 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.

 

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.”

 

 

Spotlight on Vermont Soap

Vermont Soap is basking in the Member Deals Spotlight this week! From June 17th – 23rd, member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all of their organic, locally made body care and cleaning products, so it’s a great time to stock up and save. Read on to learn more about this company on a mission to help us keep clean using natural non-toxic alternatives to the chemical-based personal care products on the market:

 

 

History

More than 20 years ago, Vermont Soap Founder and self-proclaimed “Soapman” Larry Plesant bought a small environmental products company that also manufactured small amounts of liquid castile soap. The purchase covered little more than the castile soap recipe and a machine that filled the bottles, but the price was right, and the Soapman never looked back. He was driven to create natural soap products as a result of his own challenges with sensitive skin and the lack of options available at the time for individuals who experienced adverse reactions to chemical detergents. From these humble beginnings sprang a vibrant local business that now produces dozens of home and body care products and ships them across the US and beyond. 

These days, Vermont Soap has grown by leaps and bounds but continues to pride itself on producing high-quality Certified Organic alternatives to the often irritating, chemical, and detergent-based personal care products now in general use. They manufacture handmade cold process bar soaps for sensitive skin, liquid soaps for body care and home care, the first truly organic shower gels, numerous organic nontoxic cleaners, and much more. As a member of the 1% For The Planet network, Vermont Soap pledges 1% of its sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.

Their website has a handy tool to help you determine your skin type and learn which of their products are best suited to you. Their blog also offers a wealth of resources to help you make the most of your personal and home care products.

Mission Statement:

  • Vermont Soap recognizes that human beings are now at a critical juncture in relation to our planet and that viable alternatives must be created to lead us into a sustainable future.
  • Vermont Soap was created to manufacture and market high-quality, unique and natural personal care products of usefulness and value; and to be an example of how corporations can be a tool for positive social change.
  • Vermont Soap emphasizes the wholeness and integration of the company departments through communication, participation in the growth process, and acceptance of responsibility among co-workers.
  • Vermont Soap pledges to conduct business in an environmentally aware manner emphasizing reuse and recycling, the use of natural base ingredients, and the application of appropriate technology.

 

Vermont Soap’s Ecological Mindset from Terrier Tenacity on Vimeo.

Celebrate Juneteenth!

Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. While the emancipation of enslaved people was first declared in the country by President Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, it was largely unenforced until union troops arrived after slowly advancing through the south. Because of this, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 — nearly two and a half years following the emancipation proclamation — that a Union general named Gordon Granger officially told people of Galveston, Texas that enslaved people were free by executive proclamation. Because of this, Juneteenth also represents for many delayed liberation and justice due to continued systematic oppression. As such, Juneteenth officially honors the end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.

The holiday is also often referred to as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, or Black Independence Day, as the July 4th Independence Day commemorating the 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence came at a time when enslaved Black Americans were anything but free. 

Shortly after the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863 many freed slaves escaped to the Union Army lines at Newbern, Feb. 1863

In those earliest Juneteenth celebrations in Texas, celebrants dressed in their finest, trumpeting the universal concerns of citizenship and liberty, with exalted speakers from the Reconstruction era and symbols like the Goddess of Liberty. From their earliest incarnations, Juneteenth celebrations provided an occasion for gathering lost family members, measuring progress against freedom, and instilling younger generations with the values of self-improvement and racial uplift. This was accomplished through readings of the Emancipation Proclamation, religious sermons and spirituals, preparation and sharing of food delicacies of the African diaspora, as well as games and sporting events.

Juneteenth celebrations gradually began to move across state lines “one person, one family, one carload or train ticket at a time” according to Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in The Root. Author Isabel Wilkerson in her book Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, writes that “the people from Texas took Juneteenth Day to Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and other places they went.” As it spread, the observance was also changing. This was especially true in the 1920s as the Consumer Age infiltrated black society with advertisements for fancier Juneteenth attire and ever more elaborate celebratory displays. Modern Juneteeth celebrations often include parades, community events, and barbecues.

Juneteenth Celebration at Brooklyn Public Library. June 2020

Juneteenth didn’t become an officially recognized holiday in Texas until 1979 and, since then, 47 other states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as a state holiday or holiday observance. Vermont has officially recognized Juneteenth since 2008, though 2021 marks a new level of commitment to honor the holiday thanks to the efforts of Tyeastia Green, Burlington’s Director of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. For the first time in its history, the city of Burlington will officially recognize Juneteenth with a slate of celebratory events, including a gospel brunch and a community dance party at City Hall Park.

Juneteenth Parade in Philadelphia at Malcolm X Park. June 2019

Another local opportunity to honor the occasion this year is A Sailing Celebration for Black Vermonters, created by All Heart Inspirations in collaboration with Burlington’s Whistling Man Schooner Co. According to the event listing on the All Heart Inspirations web page, the event will include storytelling performances from a variety of local Black artists, while sailing on Lake Champlain – providing a heartfelt, meaningful experience and affinity for Vermonters who self-identify as Black, African-American, of African diaspora or African descent. Registration for this landmark event opened on May 1st and was booked within two hours, underscoring the community’s hunger to honor this special holiday.

Clemmons Family Farm is also planning a low-key, family-friendly Juneteenth on the Farm Celebration Saturday, June 19 from 10:30 am – 2 pm, in collaboration with the ECHO, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. Visitors will be treated to an aerial performance by Vermont artist Pamela Donohoo, who is one of 200 collaborating artists that make up the Clemmons Family Farm artist network. There will also be black eyed pea and collard green planting, tastings, craft-making, and poetry! Registration is limited to the first 50 registrants, so be sure to visit https://tinyurl.com/CFFJuneteenth2021 to register!

If you’d like to celebrate Juneteeth this year but can’t attend the local festivities, consider a celebratory meal using the collection of recipes compiled by National Co-op Grocers (NCG) honoring the rich culinary traditions associated with Juneteenth celebrations. Another fantastic way to honor the spirit of Juneteeth is to consider donating to local and national organizations dedicated to the ongoing work of dismantling deeply-rooted systems of oppression that continue to impede the rights and freedoms of people of color. Locally, the Rutland Area NAACP, the Every Town Project, Clemmons Family Farm, and the SUSU CommUNITY Farm are great places to start. 

Spotlight on Crowley Cheese

Local cheesemaker Crowley Cheese started churning out wheels of cheddar from the Crowley family kitchen way back in 1824, making it the very first Vermont cheese! Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Crowley Cheese from June 10th – 16th and all varieties of their cheddar cheese are 20% off for Member-Owners during that week! Read on to learn more about the rich history of this local cheese company and their commitment to producing exceptional cheddar cheese for nearly two centuries:

According to their website, award-winning Crowley Cheese has been made in the Green Mountains of Vermont from the same recipe, in the same manner, since 1824. Hand-made the old-fashioned way, it’s cheese the way it used to be — all-natural, with no additives or preservatives. Pure, simple, delicious: cheese that everyone will love.

Crowley Cheese is made by hand using traditional methods first used by company founder Winfield Crowley. The cheese originates from fresh, whole, unpasteurized milk from cows that are certified BST and BGH-free and is made without additives or preservatives. The texture is distinctively smooth and creamy and the flavor is often described as cheddar “without the bite.”

Crowley’s cheesemaking history originally began in the Crowley Farm kitchen in Healdville, Vermont, in 1824. By 1882, they’d outgrown the kitchen and Winfield Crowley built the present-day Crowley Cheese Factory –  now recognized as A National Historic Place – making it the oldest continuously operating cheese factory in America. Over a century ago, when the Vermont landscape was dotted with dairy farms, Crowley Cheese was one of many small cheese producers flourishing in the state. At that time, almost every Vermont village had at least one cheese manufacturer; some villages had as many as six cheesemakers. Because refrigeration was yet to be invented, farmers were unable to store surplus milk, and so they would wisely bring their excess milk to the nearest local cheesemaker to make something out of it — cheese!

Historic Crowley Cheese Factory in Healdville, VT

By the early part of the twentieth century, the unique qualities that attracted Crowley’s first believers in Vermont were being tasted and cherished by people all over the East Coast. The first Vermont cheese was born, and Crowley Cheese started a romance that would turn into a full-fledged love affair as the century came to a close.

Today, nearly 200 years later, Crowley Cheese continues to make one of the finest cheeses in America and the recipe remains unchanged. They invite you to visit their original cheese factory to get a glimpse of the cheesemaking process and tour the historic building that echoes with the rich history of the family business. They usually make cheese three days during the week – typically Tuesday through Thursday – but the schedule can be variable, so they suggest calling ahead to confirm production is underway if you wish to see the cheesemaking action in progress. Of course, they welcome you any day of the week to check out the facility, sample their tasty cheeses, and browse the factory gift shop. They’re typically open Monday-Friday, 8 am – 4 pm and Saturday-Sunday 10 am – 4 pm. 

A present look at the oldest continuously running cheese factory in America – Crowley Cheese

To learn more, be sure to visit their website and don’t miss their collection of recipes, from mac and cheese to frittatas, showcasing the best qualities of their cheeses in a variety of meals. 

Spotlight on Alba Botanica

Warmer weather is finally here which means that many of us are having some fun in the sun and looking to stock up on sunscreen and other body care essentials. With this in mind, we’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Alba Botanica! All of their face, body, hair, and suncare products are 20% off for member-owners from June 3rd – 9th! Read on to learn more about this company and its commitment to providing cruelty-free, reef-friendly, plant-based body care products for you and your family:

The team at Alba Botanica believes that the future is beautiful. Their choice to use only 100% plant-based products aligns with their love of the natural world. They believe in reducing their environmental footprint whenever possible, which is why they package their products sensibly & minimally and use post-consumer materials whenever possible. They also believe in keeping their friends close, including the furry kind, avoiding all animal testing in their ingredients and products. They were one of the founding members of the leaping bunny program, which is now a widely recognized and trusted certification for cruelty-free products.

Alba Botanica also prioritizes the health of our marine ecosystem and reassures you that all of their mineral sunscreens are free of oxybenzone & octinoxate. To read more about the ways in which sunscreens and other skincare products affect marine life click here. Additionally, all Alba Botanica sunscreens are biodegradable, meaning the formulas have been tested according to industry standards and shown to break down in nature to minimize their impact on the Earth.

Co-op Connection Featured Business – Honey Wax Bar

It has been a very long year of pandemic isolation, where perhaps our only social interactions occurred on a screen and our only occasion to put real pants on was for a drive into town to pick up takeout. It’s easy to see how our self-care and grooming routines, aimed at helping us feel like the best, most vibrant versions of ourselves, may have fallen by the wayside. Now that we’re beginning to collectively emerge from this period of hibernation, returning to in-person meetings, job interviews, and safe social gatherings, we happen to think it’s a great time to visit our featured Co-op Connection business for June – Honey Wax Bar! They offer a generous 10% discount to card-carrying Co-op member-owners through the Co-op Connection program, so what are you waiting for?! Read on to learn more about Honey Wax Bar and the skilled esthetician who is excited to help you feel your confident best, no matter the occasion:

 

Honey Wax Bar founder and owner Hannah Zeno felt called to this line of work by a desire to make all things beautiful and an understanding that real beauty begins within. Her path to becoming a holistic esthetician began by studying nutrition and coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC and an extensive yoga teacher training program to learn more about the foundations of balance and strength. She studied esthetics for almost a decade with continuing education in makeup, oncology, chemical peels, and most recently lash lifting and microblading. Hannah strives to transform her clients into the most outstanding and glowing version of themselves, helping them feel beautiful from the inside out.

Holistic Esthetician Hannah Zeno, photographed by Elisabeth Waller Photography

Formally known as Honey Holistic Esthetics, Honey Wax Bar is Middlebury’s local go-to waxing and permanent make-up beauty bar. They offer a range of services, from waxing to brow tinting to lash lifting and microblading, all intended to gently assist you along your journey to feeling your absolute most radiant self. Whether you are preparing for your honeymoon or in search of a quick pick-me-up, Honey Wax Bar provides the services to make you more confident in your new bikini or outfit behind closed doors. Located right in the heart of Middlebury, VT overlooking the river, Honey Wax Bar prides itself on its convenient booking system, especially for Middlebury College Students who can book their waxing appointment in between classes.

According to Hannah, “it is a pleasure to work with women and men who come to me looking for a change and want to explore more about the world of health and beauty. When a client makes an appointment, we focus not only on their immediate needs but also long-term beauty goals. My clients are the reason I’m at Honey!” To view their full menu of services, visit them online at honeywaxbarmiddlebury.com. To book an appointment now, text Hannah Zeno at 802-989-9122 or request an appointment online. 

 

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