June 2022

Information and Its Roots Matter

This article first appeared in the Addison County Independent on March 3, 2022, as part of the Climate Matters: Perspectives on Change weekly column.  As the Communications Committee Chair for our Board of Directors, I organize the monthly contributions from our board members for the monthly e-newsletter.   Three of our current directors are writing for the Climate Matters column:  myself, Molly Anderson, and Samantha Langevin.  We intend to share these columns with you, our member-owners, to bring together the values and urgency of climate justice with those of social and food justice, and to show the deep alignment with our Ends:  “The Co-op exists to help our member-owners, customers and the community benefit from Healthy Foods; Vibrant Local Economy; Environmentally Sustainable & Energy Efficient Practices; Cooperative Democratic Ownership; and Learning About These Values.”

Information and its roots matter

By Nadine Canter

While it took me less than a minute to say yes to contributing to Climate Matters: Perspectives on Change, I am a reluctant columnist. I accepted this assignment because it is time. Time to share and attempt a similar path bravely taken by one of the greatest systems thinkers of our time, Donella Meadows (1941-2001).

Meadows resigned a professorship at MIT to become a newspaper columnist after a career in academia where she was notoriously famous for co-authoring the study and 1972 book, The Limits to Growth. The science behind The Limits to Growth showed that there was approximately 30 years left before planetary resources would be depleted. These results were based on data created from groundbreaking computer modeling at MIT generated by Meadow and colleagues in the early 1970s. While 30 years proved not to be a precise timeline, the conclusion— that a global economy based on the extraction of natural resources is unsustainable—is inarguable today. Then, critics in the scientific community of Meadows and her colleagues’ work attempted to discredit and vigorously challenge the results of the research.

For those of us still toiling to bring awareness to the same systemic problems, it is notable that Meadows and her colleagues were struck by the same curse we still wrestle with, the Cassandra Dilemma. The Cassandra Dilemma is the state of being a person whose valid warnings or concerns are disbelieved by others. The term originates in Greek mythology where the story goes that when Apollo was lovestruck by Cassandra, a daughter of the King of Troy, he gave her the gift of prophecy. When she didn’t return the feelings, Apollo placed a curse on her such that no one believed her predictions and warnings of future events. Environmentalist Alan Atkinsson wrote a 1999 book about this curse on the environmental movement.

The experience of being discredited forever changed Meadows. She lost faith in the Academy and saw the wielding of power in a whole new light. In time, she turned to where she believed she could have influence: she called it the Informationsphere.  She writes:  “A society that refuses to consider the idea that there are limits to growth is not going to bring forth a physical economy that fits within the constraints of the planet. A society that thinks there is an ‘away’ to throw things is going to find itself choking on its own waste. People who do not see nature as the support base for all life, including their own, will destroy nature and eventually themselves.” 

Thus, she launched a new direction for her life’s work by writing a syndicated newspaper column (and to note, she also founded an institute focused on sustainability). She created and shared 15 tenets to address cultural realities and constraints that prevent the human species from acknowledging patterns and practices that must be overcome or suffer the consequences. I devoured her column, which was published in newspapers from 1986 until her untimely death in 2001. I live and work by a similar tenet: we humans need to look carefully at our patterns and choices in order to stop depleting our natural resources through our extractive practices that poison us as we transform those resources into energy (food, fossil fuels, and so on) and material goods.  We are insatiable—driven by our consumptive ways that are ruled by a cultural story of scarcity.  In no way do I claim to be free of this same lifestyle.

In my 30-plus years of studying, practicing, and teaching about environmental issues in the context of the Information sphere, my interdisciplinary social science training (I have two degrees in Communications studying the social impact of mass media aka the Informationsphere) is rooted in the following: we obtain our stories (information) from many sources (aka modes) and the stories themselves come in codes with multiple meanings encoded by a creator and decoded by a receiver. Meanings emerge from contexts we typically cannot see, but that we co-create as our dominant social paradigm. This culture—the water in which we swim—forms and holds our worldviews. In most cases, it is manufactured for us by the same people/institutions who wish to extract our attention and sell it, as if our attention and money are infinite resources. They are not.

I am a reluctant columnist. I don’t want you to know my name. Does it really matter what I think? I want you to know and understand what you think about climate change and social justice, as one cannot happen without the other. I want you to know how to make sense of what you hear, read, and ultimately feel. I want you to be able to see the patterns and places where you personally feel empowered to make a change that is neither disruptive nor scary. I want you to be aware of your own power—including the power of the pen, the power of the purse, and the power of community—ideas I’ll address in future columns.  I want you to know that it is OK to follow and lead. That either/or is an expression of fear and limitation, and that both/and should roll off your tongue multiple times each day to support your ideas and visions, your neighbors’ ideas and visions, your personal expansion, and your capacity to love and experience pleasure.

Nadine Canter is a Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board Member

Spotlight on Rogers Farmstead Creamery

We’re shining a bright Member Deals Spotlight on an organic family farm nestled in the rolling hills of Berlin, VT known as Rogers Farmstead. From June 30th – July 6th, all Rogers Farmstead organic dairy products are 20% off for member-owners! Read on to learn more about this Real Organic farm and the family who churns out delicious dairy products for their community:

Nathan and Jessie Rogers met just over 20 years ago while both were working for IBM in Essex Junction, VT. Nate grew up on a dairy farm in Northern New York and had originally dreamed of a life in agriculture, but after observing the struggle that many dairy farmers were facing with declining milk prices and market oversaturation, he initially opted for a different path.  Jessie grew up in Cape Cod and had established a career in chemical engineering when she met Nate. The couple married and happened to move next door to a dairy farm in Fletcher, VT, rekindling Nate’s love for the dairy life and sending the couple on a new trajectory back toward the land. 

The Rogers Farmstead in Berlin, VT

In 2012, they were able to purchase a 133-acre farm in Berlin that was conserved by the Vermont Land Trust. It needed a lot of work, but Jessie and Nathan had the energy and determination needed to breathe new life into the derelict farm. They still weren’t certain that dairy farming was the right niche, so they first experimented with farming organic grains. They understood the critical role of grazing animals in holistic ecological land management, and they had an existing barn, so they decided to bring in a few Jersey cows.

The happy grass-fed Jersey herd at Rogers Farmstead

The Rogers soon found themselves with more milk than they needed and began dabbling in yogurt-making. In 2016, the bakers at Elmore Mountain Bread, who were buying most of the Rogers’ grains for their bakery, happened to introduce them to a mutual friend named Maurissa Mauro of Ploughgate Butter fame. Mauro had recently purchased Bragg Farm in nearby Fayston, VT, and had a creamery facility where the Rogers could experiment with producing their yogurt at a wholesale scale without the usual burden of needing to invest in infrastructure upfront. It gave Nate and Jessie the chance to hone their craft and establish markets for their dairy products.

7-Year-Old Elliot Rogers loves helping out on the family farm

Support for their dairy products was steadfast and strong, leading the Rogers’ to eventually expand their Jersey herd and construct their own creamery and farmstand on their farm in Berlin. They now produce organic cream-top milk; chocolate milk; whole milk yogurt in plain, maple, and vanilla; fresh mozzarella; and fresh cheese curds. Over the years, they’ve gradually phased out grain production on their farm to focus on maintaining pristine pasture and hayland for their grass-fed dairy herd. You can find their full range of products at their farmstand and, here at the Co-op, we’re proud to carry their milk and yogurt. 

Nathan Rogers pictured with some of the family’s grass-fed Jersey cows

Nate now works full-time on the farm, and Jessie pitches in as often as possible around an off-farm job with the Agrimark cooperative. The couple is often flanked by their two young sons, Tristan and Elliot, who are both eager to pitch in and help where they can. On a recent visit to their farm for photographs for this feature, we were enthusiastically greeted and toured around the farm by 7-year-old Elliot, who was excited to point out that he’d soon be adding a veggie garden plot of his own. It’s good to know that Rogers Farmstead is already working on its succession plan! 

Elliot Rogers enthusiastically greets customers at the family’s farm store in Berlin, VT

The Rogers Farmstead is supported by the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership (NOFFP) and is  Real Organic Certified, which is a third-party add-on label allowing small, organic, family-scale dairy farms to differentiate themselves in an ever-increasing landscape of industrial mega-dairies whose practices are no longer consistent with the original intentions of the organic program, despite their USDA organic labels. When you see a Real Organic label on a dairy product, you can be certain that you are supporting a small family farm whose cows are raised on pasture, with animal welfare and environmental stewardship at the forefront.

Elliot and Nathan, along with the family dog Peanut, all enjoy checking on the youngest cows in the family’s grass-fed herd.

The Real Organic Project is a grassroots farmer-led movement working towards certifying thousands of farms across the United States. Their label distinguishes soil-grown fruits and vegetables from hydroponically-raised produce, and

pasture-raised meat, milk, and eggs from products harvested from animals in horrific confinement (CAFOs – confined animal feeding operations). The folks at the Real Organic Project believe that the organic standards, with their focus on soil health, biodiversity, and animal welfare were written as they should be, but that the current lack of enforcement of those standards is jeopardizing the ability for small farms who adhere to the law to stay in business. The lack of enforcement is also jeopardizing the overall health of the customers who support the organic movement; customers who are not getting what they pay for at market but still paying a premium price. And the lack of enforcement is jeopardizing the very cycles (water, air, nutrients) that Earth relies upon to provide us all with a place to live, by pushing extractive, chemical agriculture to the forefront.

We’re grateful to folks like the Rogers family, who are committed to pasture-based organic farming practices that offer solutions to the mounting challenges presented by a rapidly changing climate. 



Zero Waste Body Care

If you’re looking to meet your zero waste goals without giving up your body care routine, you’ll be excited to hear that all of our bulk body care products are 20% off for the entire month of July! Perhaps you haven’t yet noticed this new and growing section of our Wellness department? This is a perfect time to get acquainted! Our goal is to offer all the body care staples, minus the packaging. If DIY body care is your jam, you’ll also be glad to find everything you need to make your own lip balms, salves, bath soaks, and other body care products at home!

The Co-op Bulk Body Care section is located in our Wellness Department

Here’s how it works:

  • Bring your own clean, empty container from home or select from our wide variety of containers.
  • Get a tare weight on your container using the scale in our Bulk Department. The unit should be in pounds. This ensures that you’re only paying for the weight of the product, excluding the weight of the container.
  • Fill the container with the product(s) that you love.
  • Record the PLU somewhere on your container. This number can be found on the box, bottle, or carton from which you poured the product.
  • Take it to any cashier and checkout!
Getting a “tare weight” means weighing your empty container (in lbs) and recording the weight somewhere on the container
The “PLU” (in this case, #5081) from the box or bottle from which you’re pouring should be recorded somewhere on your container.


Here are the Products You Will Find in our Bulk Body Care Section:


If you’re feeling inspired to try making your own DIY natural body care products, Mountain Rose Herbs is a wonderful resource for recipes, tips, and tricks!

Celebrating the 100th International Day of Cooperatives!

On July 2, cooperatives all around the world will celebrate the 100th International Day of Cooperatives (#CoopsDay). A decade on from the UN International Year of Cooperatives, which showcased the unique contribution of cooperatives to making the world a better place, this year’s #CoopsDay slogan —“Cooperatives Build a Better World”— echoes the theme of the International Year.

“Cooperatives are answering the wake-up call of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who warned that the world is ‘on the edge of an abyss — and moving in the wrong direction’, and exclaimed that ‘to restore trust, and inspire hope, we need cooperation, we need dialogue, we need understanding’. For nearly two centuries, cooperatives have been pulling in this direction. This was amply highlighted at the 33rd World Cooperative Congress, held by the International Cooperative Alliance in December 2021, which focused a spotlight on how their shared identity is moving cooperatives to take action to address the world’s problems” declared Bruno Roelants, Director General of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA).

The ICA invites cooperators everywhere to spread the word about how our human-centered business model, inspired by the cooperative values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity, and the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others, is building a better world.

Operating all around the world, in many different sectors of the economy, cooperatives have proven themselves more resilient to crises than the average. They foster economic participation, fight against environmental degradation and climate change, generate good jobs, contribute to food security, keep financial capital within local communities, build ethical value chains, and, by improving people’s material conditions and security, contribute to positive peace. 

“Cooperatives are the only enterprise model with globally agreed upon principles that rest on a foundation of shared ethical values” added Bruno Roelants.

About the International Day of Cooperatives

Marked by cooperatives worldwide since 1923 and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the centenary of the ICA in 1995, the International Day of Cooperatives is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of July.

The aim of #CoopsDay is to increase awareness of cooperatives and promote the movement’s ideas of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace. Since 1995, the ICA and the United Nations through the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) have jointly set the theme for the celebration of #CoopsDay.

Through #CoopsDay, local, national and global policymakers, civil society organizations, and the public, in general, can learn about the contribution of cooperatives to a secure future for all.

Impact of Your Co-op

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. We’re proud to offer a starting salary of $15.50 per hour.
  • 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 valued at $7.2 million!), compared to the national grocery store average of 1.8%.
  • In the last fiscal year, your Co-op donated $117,393 to local nonprofits and in-kind food donations to our local food shelves.



Spotlight on North Hollow Farm

We’re shining a bright Member Deals Spotlight on a family-owned farm nestled in the rolling hills of Rochester, VT known as North Hollow Farm! All of North Hollow Farm’s grass-fed beef and pork products are 20% off from June 23rd – 29th, so it’s a great time to stock up the freezer! Read on to learn more about this second-generation thousand-acre farm and its commitment to climate-friendly grazing practices:

Located in the heart of Vermont, on the skirts of the Green Mountain National Forest, North Hollow Farm delivers the finest in grass-fed beef, natural pork, chicken, and goat, and 100% pure Vermont maple syrup products. Owned and operated by second-generation farmers Julie Brown and Mike Bowen, the farm was first purchased by Mike’s father, Carroll Bowen in 1948. At that time, Carroll was able to purchase 200 acres for $2,000, which Mike quips wouldn’t even cover the taxes by today’s standards! Over the ensuing years, Mike and Julie were able to purchase adjacent farmland and also lease nearby land, bringing the total up to 1,000 acres of hayland and pasture.

In 2003, Mike and Julie made the decision to stop growing corn for silage, shifting to an all-grass model for the sake of soil health, bovine health, and human health. Their original herd in the 1970s consisted of Hereford purebred cattle, which they eventually crossed with Angus bulls, and added a Charolais bull a few years later. In 2005, after making the transition to a grass-fed and grass-finished model, they added several Red Devon bulls to their herd. This English heritage breed is well known for its exceptional grass-finishing qualities, thanks to genetics that predate the beef industry’s shift toward grain finishing.


Management Intensive Grazing (MIG), also known as “grass farming,” “rotational pasture management,” and “prescribed grazing” is an environmentally and economically viable system of forage-based animal production that builds soil organic carbon, promotes increased biodiversity, improves water retention, and facilitates carbon sequestration. In this flexible approach to rotational grazing, paddock size, stocking density, and length of grazing period are adjusted to balance forage supply with animal nutrient demand through the grazing season. Vermont’s landscape and topography are well suited to this type of pasture production. North Hollow Farm’s livestock is rotated from pasture to pasture and they self-harvest most of their own feed. The team at North Hollow Farm closely monitors the health of both the animals and the pasture plants to ensure that optimal feed conditions are met.

Here at the Co-op, we carry a wide range of North Hollow Farm’s grass-fed beef and pork products. Their cattle are raised without growth hormones, digestive stimulants, or antibiotics. Everything they eat is produced at the farm. Their sausage, ham, bacon, frankfurters, and kielbasa are made without the use of nitrates or fillers. If you find yourself cruising along route 100 through Rochester, be sure to stop at the North Hollow farmstand to browse their full range of products. And if you’re looking to order from the comfort of your own home, North Hollow Farm ships!

Spotlight on Vermont Soap

Vermont Soap is basking in the Member Deals Spotlight this week! From June 16th – 22nd, 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:




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 marked 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 officially recognized Juneteenth with a slate of celebratory events, including a gospel brunch and a community dance party at City Hall Park.

Building on that momentum, the City of Burlington’s Racial Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (REIB) Office has a slate of events planned for this year’s Juneteenth celebration, spanning from June 17th – 19th, centered around the this year’s theme:  A Love Story. According to the REIB website, this year’s theme rose from the understanding that “when you think about Black Americans, you can’t forget about the heart that it took to rebuild, restore, and revive a culture. We will have a weekend long Celebration powered by LOVE. Love from within, around and outside the community.”

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. They’re offering seven different trips from Monday, June 13th – Wednesday, June 15th. Capacity is limited and available first-come, first-served. Registration for this second annual event is already booked up, underscoring the community’s hunger to honor this special holiday, and those still hopeful to attend may be added to a waitlist using this link. There’s also an option to donate to this wonderful event to help them reack their $14K fundraising goal by clicking here



Clemmons Family Farm is also planning a low-key, family-friendly Juneteenth on the Farm Celebration Saturday, June 18th from 12-4 and Sunday, June 19th from 10-12 on thier historic homestead in Charlotte, Vermont.

According to their webpage, “Clemmons Family Farm’s Juneteenth 2022 theme is Building Legacies that Matter. We ask all visitors to the farm, young and old, “What legacy do you want to build and leave for the next generations?”. In celebration of African American culture, freedoms, and our human connectedness, we engage the community to consider this question on Juneteenth through our curated arts and culture program on the farm. Attendees will experience Clemmons family storytelling, musical and aerial performances, and boxed soul food samples for tasting prepared by our collaborating African diaspora culinary artists, with recipes and history notes included in the box. They will engage with other Clemmons Family Farm collaborating artists to co-create visual art using their own silhouettes combined with poetry and a selection of proverbs and old sayings that express the legacies they want to build.”


Admission is FREE but is limited to 60 people each day. Advance registrations are required to attend and those interested my register using this link.


Clemmons Family Farm’s Building Legacies That Matter Juneteenth 2022 program is made possible through kind donations from community members like you and from Vermont businesses who are sponsoring the celebrations. If you, your business, or organization wishes to sponsor this year’s event, click here

If you’d like to celebrate Juneteeth this year but can’t attend the local festivities, consider a celebratory meal to honor the rich culinary traditions associated with Juneteenth celebrations. This Peach and Molasses Chicken recipe, adapted from the Juneteenth cookbook Watermelon and Red Birds by Nicole Taylor seems like a great place to start. 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, the Vermont Professionals of Color Network, SUSU CommUNITY Farm, and Unlikely Riders are great places to start. 

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 9th – 15th, 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 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!


If you happen to be passing through Salisbury, be sure to visit their seasonal farmstand! We also love keeping up with Blue Ledge Farm happenings through their fun and informative blog



Spotlight on Badger

Our Co-op Spotlight is shining brightly on Badger this week. This small, family-owned, family-run, and family-friendly company nestled in the woods of Gilsum, New Hampshire is beyond worthy of the spotlight. They help define what it means to be a socially accountable, environmentally responsible, people-first kind of business. They are featured in our Member Deals Spotlight this week, so all of their fabulous body care products are 20% off for member-owners from June 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn about the ideals, principles, and practices that make their company worthy of such high praise:

Badger was born in 1995 when founder Bill Whyte was working as a carpenter in the cold New Hampshire winters and created an amazing balm that helped soothe and heal his cracked hands. Badger Bill ran the company (as CEO) along with his wife Katie Schwerin (as COO) and their two daughters Rebecca Hamilton and Emily Schwerin-Whyte and it grew to over 100 products and over 90 employees. In 2018 Bill passed the leadership of the company on to Rebecca and Emily making them both CEOs or Collaborative Executive Officers. Click HERE to read more about Badger’s amazing history.

Badger Bill and family


Quality Ingredients and Standards

Badger selects ingredients with great care, using only those that fit their rigorous natural standards for healthy agriculture, minimal processing, sustainable supply chain, and health-giving properties. Every ingredient they use is grown and processed with the highest degree of respect for protecting the environment, the workers, and the natural properties of the plants. Nearly all of Badger’s products are made from 100% USDA Certified Organic food-grade ingredients and they utilize as many fair trade certified ingredients as possible. You can view their impressive growing and processing standards on their web page. 

B Corp Status

Badger became a B Corporation in 2011 to help assess and improve their business practices and ensure that they’re always doing what’s right for people and the planet. In June of 2018, Badger was named ‘Best For the World’ and ‘Best for the Environment’ by the folks at B Corp, recognizing their efforts to create a positive impact for workers, the environment, and the community. At the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Badger joined a group of over 500 other B corporations in committing to Net Zero by 2030. That means reaching a perfect equilibrium with the earth—drawing all of their energy from renewable sources, and releasing zero carbon into the atmosphere. 

Badger facility & ecology center
Badger Facility & Ecology Center Gardens

Going Solar

Badger headquarters is powered exclusively by the sun! In July of 2020, as part of their ongoing commitment to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030, Badger partnered with fellow B Corp Revision Energy to install a full ground and roof solar array. Their land and buildings are now adorned with a 1,445-panel (524-kilowatt) roof- and ground-mounted solar array, one of the largest in the region. The panels produce enough clean solar energy to power all of their operations—and even send extra electricity back to the grid. These panels will eliminate about 636,000 pounds of carbon pollution every year!

New Solar Panels Powering the Badger Campus in Gilsum, NH


Family-Focused Employee Programs

Badger was awarded the Connect 2016 Philosophy Award for its accommodating employee benefits and exemplary work environment. Creating a family-friendly workplace is a high priority at Badger. They aim to be supportive of new parents in their extended work family while considering the well-being of all employees and productivity in the workplace. They offer extended parental leave and a Babies At Work program, which brings together a policy that is best for baby, parent, and business. This policy allows the parent to bring the child to the workplace until it begins crawling, at which time it graduates to Badger’s Calendula Garden Childcare Center. The Center is located just a quarter-mile from the Badger campus and offers high-quality, subsidized childcare for children of their employees.  Badger, in a sense, creates its own “village” to support both parent and child!


Calendula Garden Child Care Center
Calendula Garden Child Care Center

Another exemplary aspect of employee care is their free lunch program. This is a daily organic lunch served during a paid 30-minute break. Every day their fabulous cooks prepare a free, home-cooked lunch for all of the Badgers made from 100% organic and mostly local foods. During the summer months, much of the produce comes right from their Badger Ecology Center regenerative vegetable garden! Read more about Badger’s impressive employee benefits here.


Product Certifications

Badger believes that third-party certifications take the guesswork out of claims made on cosmetics and personal care items. This means that they adhere to the standards and guidelines of any third-party agency certifying their products. Their products are certified organic by both the USDA and the NSF, many of the ingredients are Fair Trade certified, and all products are certified gluten-free and certified cruelty-free. As a sunscreen manufacturer, they recognize the responsibility that they hold to help protect coral reefs and delicate marine ecosystems. They have been making reef-safe sunscreens since 2005 and now have one of the first Protect Land + Sea certified sunscreens. Badger sunscreens DO NOT contain any ingredients or contaminants considered harmful to coral reef environments, sea turtles, and other aquatic life. In addition, Badger advocates for bans on coral harming sunscreen chemicals in places such as Hawaii, Key West, Palau, Aruba, and the US Virgin Islands.

Supporting the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

Last fall, 135 organic family farms across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and eastern New York received the sudden news that Horizon and Maple Hill Creamery were terminating their purchase contracts, effective in early 2023. This news put these farms, many of whom have been in business for generations, at serious risk of closure unless they find alternate outlets. In early January, the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership, a first-of-its-kind campaign in partnership with the Maine Organic Farming and Gardening Association (MOFGA), was created to help solve the crisis of disappearing organic family farms in our region.

Nathan Rogers of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT, pauses to give one of his grass-fed cows a chin scratch

The Partnership, a collaboration of farmers, processors, retailers, activists, and government agencies, invites consumers to pledge to purchase at least one-fourth of their weekly organic dairy purchases from brands that have committed to sourcing their dairy from Northeast organic family farmers. A central goal of the effort is to increase demand for dairy produced in our region, creating market stability to help save at-risk farms and build greater food system resilience for the future.

Strafford Organic Creamery owners Earl Ransom and Amy Huyffer, pictured with their family and their happy, grass-fed cows

We are proud to announce that your Co-op has joined the Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership. To secure the future of organic dairy farming in the northeast, we’re committed to purchasing organic dairy products from brands that source their milk from our region. We’re also encouraging member-owners and the community to become informed about the Partnership and take the pledge to purchase ¼ of your weekly dairy products from Brand Partners. When you commit to buying one-fourth of your weekly dairy items from the brands that support our region’s organic family farms, you become a proud Consumer Partner with all of these farmers. 

Mercy Larson of Larson Farm and Creamery in Wells, VT pictured with one of her grass-fed cows

“The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership celebrates the fact that when it comes to supporting our region’s organic family farmers, it really does take a village,” said Gary Hirshberg, chair of the Partnership and co-founder of Stonyfield Organic. “Everyone has a stake in the long-term financial health of our region’s farms and farm families. The simple act of pledging to purchase one-quarter of dairy items from the brands, processors, and farms that support these family farmers, can help to ensure that farms remain healthy, vibrant, financially viable, and environmentally and climate-positive parts of the northeast region for generations to come.” 

The late great Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm in Westfield, VT pictured with wife, Anne, and daughter Christine, along with her family.

The decline in the number of small family farmers is unfortunately not a new story, as the United States, and especially the northeast, has seen drastic reductions in the number of both farms and acreage over the last decade. From 2012 to 2021 alone, Vermont has lost over 390 individual dairy farms as food production has largely been ceded away from small families, and into large, agri-business operations, through no fault of their own. However, organic family farmers are important contributors to a healthy environment and thriving rural life and are important players in the region’s food system. Organic farms have been shown to be more profitable than conventional farms, promote sustainability, sequester more soil carbon, decrease harmful environmental impacts, and have been shown to be more profitable and produce healthier livestock and higher milk quality.  

Elliot of Rogers Farmstead Creamery in Berlin, VT greets customers at his family’s organic farmstand

The next time you are shopping in the dairy or cheese cases, look for the Northeast Organic Family Farm Seal to identify Partner Brands. When you see the seal, you can be confident that your purchase supports hard-working organic dairy farmers in the Northeast. We will continue to lose our region’s farms without strong consumer support for their products.

A sampling of NOFFP products available at the Co-op


For more information on the campaign and to take the pledge, click here