Our co-op stands out nationally. Financially, MNFC is notably robust. Additionally, unlike many co-ops who struggle to recruit and retain board members, our board of directors is remarkably stable and there are consistently more candidates who run than available seats. As Board Development Chair, I’d like to share how our board approaches this unique quality of our co-op.
As a board, we are constantly balancing two distinct needs: 1) authentic representation of the member-owners and 2) consistent leadership to support the general manager. Often, these two needs can feel at odds. We are committed to recruiting new board members to make sure we have fresh voices bringing diverse perspectives to the board room. We are also committed to supporting our general manager–our number one job as a board–and to achieve this, the institutional knowledge and unique skills that come from serving multiple terms on the board are invaluable.
We have discussed term limits for board members and gained insight from our peer co-op boards that do and do not have term limits. Historically, the MNFC board has voted against term limits for two main reasons. First, we have seen organic, steady turnover of the board as a result of the democratic process. In the last five years, there have been six new members out of eleven total seats and every year has resulted in at least one new member joining the board. Second, we are aware of the perils of losing a keyboard member without a skilled successor–treasurer, or president for example–simply because their term is up.
Diversity and inclusion are central to our work as a board. The board needs to feel like an open and inclusive space for all member-owners, and the diversity amongst member-owners needs to be represented in board seats. Beginning in 2019, we enhanced our recruitment process and expanded opportunities for prospective candidates to learn about the board. Moving forward, we will begin this process even earlier in the year, and provide mid-year opportunities for candidates to explore the opportunity to sit on the board.
We want to hear from you. As a board, what can we do to improve this unique balancing act? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amanda Warren is Chair of the Board’s Board Development Committee.
Treat yourself this Valentine’s Day to a bit of self-love in a jar with our friends at Juice Amour!They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business this month and they have a sweet deal for Co-op member-owners. Show your member card when you visit Juice Amour’s Middlebury location and you’ll receive 10% off their full line of organic, raw, fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, chia puddings, and other healthy, seasonal, vegan lunch and dinner offerings! Read on to learn more about one of Middlebury’s best stops for fresh, healthy foods on the go and their brand new location in downtown Middlebury!
Juice Amour is owned and operated by Sheri Bedard and her father David Bedard. It was the strong belief in the health benefits of consuming vegan food and nutrient-dense vegetable and fruit juices that started Juice Amour on its path to your backyard. Creating nutritious, delicious, beautiful, and accessible food for their community is their driving force.
They wake up early to produce local, raw, organic juice and products on-site every day. According to Sheri, “Every day we wake up passionate in our belief that healthful food should be accessible, taste delicious, look beautiful, help you feel amazing and have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. Every decision we make here is with those philosophies in mind but (lucky for you) all YOU have to do is enjoy the deliciousness that comes from those efforts.”
Keeping it Local
Getting as much produce from local organic farmers is a core principle of Juice Amour’s mission to make a minimal impact on the earth while supporting this community. They view their support of local organic farmers as an essential step toward minimizing the global impact of their business as well as providing support and income for their neighbors. As often as possible, ingredients will be sourced locally.
Glass and the “Milk Bottle” Concept
To maximize health benefits for you and minimize the impact on our planet they avoid the use of plastic and recycle and reuse the glass jars their juice is delivered in. They ask customers to return their jars (and receive a $.50 deposit) at the location they picked up their juices so that the jars may be commercially washed and reused again and again. This reduces the cost to their clients while minimizing any negative impact of drinking out of plastic as well as maximizing benefits to the community and planet.
Commitment to Organic
Juice Amour is also committed to supporting organic. Organic farming employs methods that minimize the use of toxins while building soil quality and protecting water quality. Additionally, buying organic supports chemical and pesticide-free practices that are healthier for our farmers and for our planet. Lastly, they also feel that organic foods have more intense and delicious flavors – no wonder their juice is so delicious!
In addition to a bounty of fresh organic, raw fruit and veggie juice options, Juice Amour also offers guilt-free raw smoothies, chia puddings, overnight oats, raw nut milk, fresh vegan salads, tacos, soups, and more! Click here to see their full menu.
Their juice cleanses are extremely popular and are a great way to introduce people to juicing while enjoying incredible benefits, ranging from weight loss to improved health. They also know that the true benefit to juicing is accomplished when it is done regularly so they are constantly adding new juices and products to keep things new and fresh. They have 1, 3, and 5-day juice cleanses to meet your cleansing goals.
Sheri and the Juice Amour crew are proud to be based in Middlebury, Vermont, with an additional location in Burlington. Their Middlebury store recently relocated to a spacious, vibrant spot on Merchant’s Row right in the heart of downtown! If you haven’t yet visited the new spot, there’s no better time than now!
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 January 27th – February 2nd. 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.
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.”
Being landlocked as we are, the very notion of “local” seafood seems implausible, but thanks to the team at Starbird Fish in Burlington, we are able to have the next best thing — sustainably sourced Alaskan seafood, harvested by Vermonters for Vermonters. Their small crew makes the annual voyage to Alaska to bestow Vermonters with the very best seafood available and provides us with a unique opportunity to know our fishermen. Starbird is featured in our Member Deals Spotlight from January 20th – 26th, so it’s a great time to stock up the freezer! Read on to learn more about this unique local business and the crew that makes the magic happen:
With over a decade of experience as a commercial fisherman, Anthony “Captain Tony” Naples has been involved in all aspects of the trade, including building his own commercial fishing boats under the tutelage of legendary boat builder Lyford Stanley. Prior to launching his career as a fisherman, the Moretown, VT native explored prior stints as a farmer, a design/build craftsman and carpenter, a botanist, a lighthouse restoration expert, a photographer, a filmmaker, and a musician. In short, there’s not much that Anthony can’t do. But what really floats his boat is to spend his summers immersed in the pristine environs of Alaska’s Bristol Bay, then return home to share his modest catch with his friends, family, and community.
After experiencing the rigors and extractive nature of the typical commercial fishing scene, he realized his preference for a different style and pace involving a more sustainable means of harvesting fish. In addition to captaining his own boat, he returns each year to the tight-knit Ugashik fishing community of Bristol Bay, where he teams up with longtime friends to practice a form of salmon fishing known as set netting. The Ugashik region is home to the largest sockeye salmon run in the world and is managed by the State of Alaska Fish and Game Department, whose team of state biologists ensures that a healthy number of fish return to the ecosystem every year.
It takes five separate flights to arrive at the comma-shaped estuary formed where the Ugashik River empties into Bristol Bay, on the western coast of the Alaska Peninsula. Upon arrival, the play-by-play goes something like this: prep the gear; check the tides; check-in with Alaska Fish and Game to learn of his “openers” which are the acceptable windows during which the salmon can be sustainably harvested; set the nets; catch the fish; harvest the fish from the nets; immediately deliver the catch to a “tender”, which is a nearby boat that cools the fish using a seawater refrigeration system and delivers them to the processor, who then flash freezes the fish and prepares it for shipment back to Vermont. These steps take place over a 24-hour period and are repeated for the duration of the salmon run.
Upon arrival in Vermont, some of the fish is smoked and stored in a facility in Burlington, while the rest of the frozen fish is warehoused at the Mad River Food Hub in Waitsfield until it finds its way to the Burlington Farmers’ Market and to the shelves of various food co-ops, restaurants, and other small markets across Vermont. According to a feature in Edible Vermont, Anthony explains that “the future for small seafood producers is in the artisanal food market. I want to provide high-quality product to restaurants and farmers’ markets, places where people care about the source of their seafood.” He continues, “There’s a lot of junk that’s sold as seafood, as well as misinformation bordering on outright lies about origins and freshness.” When you choose to purchase fish from Starbird, you’re supporting every aspect from fisherman to fishery, and that level of transparency and authenticity is critical for Anthony.
In an effort to create an authentic, transparent regional seafood supply chain, Anthony created the Northern Seafood Alliance – an organization with a mission to provide consumers access to wild fish and seafood caught by fishermen whom Anthony knows personally. He quips in the Edible Vermont piece that half of them are UVM grads. He also notes that “Cranberry” Bob Lesnikoski of Fletcher, Vermont, who you more likely know as Vermont’s only commercial cranberry farmer, has been a great resource. “He’s a true jack-of-all-trades and savvy about the food scene. Bob’s a commercial fisherman himself, and he came out to Alaska to crew on one of my boats.”
At the Co-op, you’ll find a supreme lineup of Starbird Fish, including Alaskan Coho salmon, King salmon, Sockeye Salmon, Rockfish, Halibut, and Cod. When you take it home to prepare it, we hope you’ll think of Captain Tony and the incredible journey that he takes each year to bring fish to your family’s table.
A whistling tea kettle, the spicy aroma of simmering chai, a quiet space to sit, relax, and enjoy the moment…these are all part of the typical experience when you visit our featured Co-op Connection Business, Stone Leaf Teahouse, and it seems to beckon us this time of year when the air turns cool and crisp. Of course, the challenges to community health and safety presented by the COVID pandemic have led Stone Leaf Teahouse owner John Wetzel to make the difficult decision to transition to a slightly adjusted model where you can place your order and sip your tea outdoors on the teahouse patio. You can also place an order online and select curbside pickup or have the tea delivered right to your door. Perhaps recreating the cozy atmosphere of the Teahouse in the comfort of your own home as you sip your delicious tea can be a fun way to spend a restful weekend day? The indoor area of the teahouse is now open for browsing Stone Leaf’s beautiful collection of teaware!
The staff at Stone Leaf Teahouse has an intimate knowledge of the impressive list of teas offered and John has traveled to many of the farms from which their teas are sourced, gaining an even deeper understanding of the tea’s journey from farm to cup. They have applied their collective knowledge to develop an extremely handy online “Tea Guru” tool that will walk you through the process of selecting a tea that you will love. Remind them that you’re a Co-op member-owner and you’ll receive 10% off your order! You can also find their premium loose leaf teas in our Bulk tea department. It’s a unique treat to have teas this fresh available in our store. Read on to learn more about the teahouse and its offerings.
Based in Vermont, our teas reflect our ideals; grown with skill and heart to cultivate a healthy ecosystem and global community. Each year we visit the tea gardens that produce the finest teas in the world. We connect you to the families that have grown and processed tea for generations.
Established in 2009, Stone Leaf Teahouse was built, well from the stone. Upon returning from travels in India and Taiwan, we searched for the perfect space for storing and serving quality tea. We found that space in the Marbleworks in Middlebury, Vermont…our little “tea cave”. Surrounded by stone, our fresh teas keep fresh, and our aging teas age gracefully.
We travel to all the regions where we source tea to forge a connection between the grower and drinker, directly importing from China, Taiwan, India, Nepal, and Japan (with more to come as we grow!).
We source teas fresh, buying the best harvests, often multiple times a year.
We connect the tea drinker to the tea garden.
We are students of tea, here to share the connection through a cup of tea.
Would you like to delve deeper into the world of tea? Check out the workshop calendar for some exciting opportunities to learn more! Of course, for now, these workshops will be offered online. You can also visit the Tea House blog to read more about the world of tea, including a fascinating post on the rich and complex history of tea, sugar, and slavery.
Stone Leaf Teahouse offers an extensive menu of some of the freshest and most unique tea varieties available. Many of their tea offerings are certified organic. To view the full menu, click here.
Are you craving that feeling of warmth and wellbeing that you get when you sip a cup of nourishing home-cooked soup, simmered low and slow all day on the back burner, but feeling short on time to make it a reality? That’s when we reach for Joe’s Kitchen soup! They’re featured in our Member Deals Spotlight and all of their local made-from-scratch soups are 20% off for Member-Owners from January 13th – 19th! Read on to learn more about Chef-Owner Joe Buley and the inspiration behind his scrumptious line of soups!
Joe Buley’s path to creating Joe’s Kitchen at Screaming Ridge Farm began as a child in his Grandmother’s kitchen in East Randolph, VT. Joe remembers his Gram’s kitchen as a hub for the entire family where a rotating cast of cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends was constantly passing through, and where all were greeted at the door with the smell of the ubiquitous soup pot simmering on a back burner. He describes his Gram’s philosophy on cooking as having an equal regard for flavor and economy, using whatever was at hand to pull together a great-tasting soup. What really made Gram’s soups extra special though, were the quality vegetables and herbs harvested from her garden out back. Joe’s mom continued the tradition and passed it on to Joe with love and skill, spending many memorable hours cooking with him.
These early experiences created a strong foundation for Joe’s early career as a restaurant chef and entrepreneur. He trained in France at the prestigious École Supérieure de Cuisine Française in Paris (also known as Ecole Ferrand) where he was the only US citizen in the school. Joe found his way back to the US where he sampled food and life in Brooklyn, San Francisco, San Diego, and Austin before ultimately settling back down in Vermont with his family in 1999. Joe became a chef -instructor at New England Culinary Institute, a role he enjoyed for nearly 10 years.
Meanwhile, he began to dabble in growing his own food, harkening back to those days in his Grandmother’s kitchen where he first experienced the magic that happens when fresh, home-grown ingredients find their way into the soup pot. Screamin’ Ridge Farm started small, with one tiny plastic greenhouse and a walk-behind tractor. Over the next several years, the farm slowly grew into a successful business focused on winter spinach production and a wide variety of summer crops (with 3 large hoop houses and a “real” tractor). The farm sold produce at the Montpelier Farmers Market and into summer and winter CSAs.
Connecting directly with customers at Farmers Markets and through the CSA, Joe saw first-hand his customers’ struggle to find the time and inspiration needed to prepare healthy meals from raw farm products. He saw an opportunity to realize his ambition of both growing ingredients and cooking them into great-tasting prepared foods and Joe’s Kitchen at Screamin’ Ridge Farm was born.
For sourcing ingredients that aren’t grown on his own farm, Joe looks to the neighboring small farms surrounding his Montpelier community. His goal is to create flavorful food prepared with integrity and with ingredients from local producers. He hopes that those who enjoy his soups can eat great food while also being active participants in the movement to preserve Vermont’s working landscape. He believes that using super-fresh ingredients from nearby farms gives his soups authentic flavor, eliminating the need to add sugar or excessive amounts of salt. Just great tasting, healthy, nourishing food like his Gram used to make.
Here at the Co-op, you can find a rotating lineup of Joe’s famous soups showcasing a seasonal array of Vermont-fresh produce. Which one is your favorite?
We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Garden of Life! Their entire line of products are 20% off for member-owners from January 6th – 12th, so if your New Year’s resolution involved recalibrating 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. They recognize that our bodies were created to eat, process, and derive nutrition from food—real, healthy food. So, 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.
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.
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. Check out the logos below for a full rundown of Garden of Life’s third-party certifications:
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. They are extremely proud to have reached Carbon Neutrality in June of 2021—the first vitamin and supplement brand to be Certified Carbon Neutral. Certified Carbonfree® by CarbonFund.org, Garden of Life has been committed to sustainability since its inception. Click here to read more about the sustainability initiatives at Garden of Life.