June 2023

Celebrate International Day of Co-operatives!

On July 1, co-ops and their members around the world will celebrate the International Day of Co-operatives, united by the slogan, “Co-ops 4 Sustainable Development.”

Celebrated worldwide for more than a century and officially proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1995, the International Day of Co-operatives is annually commemorated on the first Saturday of July.

This year, the co-operative movement will celebrate under the theme, Co-ops 4 Sustainable Development, demonstrating how our business model, rooted in our shared values and principles, has the accomplishment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as part of its DNA.  During Co-ops Day, co-operators around the world will communicate to their members and shoppers, policymakers, community organizations, and the general public about the contribution of co-ops to a just and sustainable future for all.

Here in our region, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) and its member co-ops, including your Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, are spreading the word: when you shop at your local food co-op, you’ll not only find good food, you’re also helping build more healthy, sustainable, and inclusive communities by supporting…

  • Local Food Systems. The NFCA’s annual impact survey found that member co-ops reported that an average of 25% of their sales were local products, supporting small producers and building more resilient communities. Here at our co-op, we’re excited to report that 35% of total store sales are local products from over 400 Vermont farmers and food producers, representing $7,350,000 in local sales.
  • Food Security. When you shop at your co-op, you’re making healthy, affordable food more accessible to everyone in your community, and ensuring reliable markets for Vermont’s farmers and producers. Last year, the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op donated over 4 tons of food to our local food shelves and generated monetary donations of more than $20,000 to our local food shelves. We strive to make healthy food more accessible to over 450 households in our community through our Food For All program, and we are proud partners in the Farmacy Food As Medicine program, which is on track to serve 100 families in Addison County who are challenged with a combination of food insecurity and diet-related illness with a free local CSA fruit and vegetable share for 14 weeks throughout the growing season. 
  • Good Jobs. You’re supporting more full-time jobs and higher wages for employees. The Middlebury Co-op employs 110 full-time, part-time, and substitute employees, the majority of which are member-owners of the Co-op, sharing in the ownership of their store. We are proud to offer a competitive starting wage of $16.50 per hour to all full and part-time team members, along with a generous lineup of staff benefits.
  • Sustainability. Your dollars support family farming, organic agriculture, reduced packaging, high waste diversion rates, and a business model based on meeting people’s needs rather than maximizing profit. The same kinds of outdated policies and values that uphold systemic racism have also contributed to our rapidly changing climate, the extinction of wildlife, and the destruction of our environment. Food co-ops have supported practices that mitigate these impacts — such as energy conservation and sourcing food grown locally and with regenerative farming methods that are good for farmworker health and give back more than they take from nature.
  • A More Inclusive Economy. Food co-ops are jointly owned and democratically governed by their members, people like you who shop there and are working together to build a better economy that works for everyone. Your Co-op is collectively owned by more than 6,300 member-owner households!
At the Co-op, when we say “local”, we mean made in Vermont!

As natural vehicles of collaborative partnership and prosperity for all, co-operatives contribute to economic, social, and environmental sustainability across regions and economic sectors. From farmer co-ops to food co-ops, worker co-ops to credit unions, housing co-ops to mutual insurance, co-operative businesses strengthen communities, enhance local resources, advocate for social responsibility, and promote sustainable business practices based on long-term well-being rather than short-term profits. Regardless of the type of co-operative or the communities they serve, co-operatives around the world generally operate according to the same core principles and values, adopted by the International Co-operative Alliance in 1995. The roots of these Seven Cooperative Principles can be traced to the first modern cooperative founded in Rochdale, England in 1844.

 

 

The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) was the first worldwide business network to endorse the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and be recognized as a partner in their advancement. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, offered a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 goals that recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. September of 2023 will mark the mid-point in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and seek ways to accelerate progress in the SDGs.

“At the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda, efforts need to be deepened, and this can only be done with more co-operation. Enterprises, which are responsible for organizing the production and distribution of goods and services, must focus on people and the planet. Co-operatives have a model for doing this, and have been demonstrating it for almost 200 years”, says ICA President Ariel Guarco.

The NFCA is joining the ICA in encouraging co-ops and their members around the world to celebrate International Co-op’s Day and show the world what can be achieved through the power of co-operation.

 

It’s an exciting time to be part of a food co-op in the United States — growing numbers of people and communities are discovering their power and organizing food co-ops in their neighborhoods while thriving food co-ops continue to grow and adapt to serve their communities well. The food co-ops around the country that own National Co+op Grocers (NCG) work together collectively to strengthen our ability to positively impact the national food system and grow the cooperative economy in an inclusive and environmentally regenerative manner. We’re stronger together! 

 

In pursuit of these goals, NCG collectively reports our social and environmental impact data to measure the benefits that the “average” food co-op brings its community. But make no mistake, there’s nothing average about us. Every co-op is as vibrantly unique as the community it serves, and that’s the secret sauce. People form food co-ops when their community comes together around the need for reliable access to the kinds of food that people living there want to eat. It’s a powerful way to build food security, community resilience, and economic empowerment. 

 

If that sounds good to you, consider becoming a Member-Owner of your community Co-op!! It feels great to own a grocery store with your friends and neighbors! If you’re already a co-op shopper or member-owner, thank you for strengthening your community and local food system. If you’re looking to take a more hands-on role, we hope you’ll consider joining our team! Stronger Together includes you! CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR TEAM!

 

 

 

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 29th – July 5th, 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 have a fruitful 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

Hannah Sessions, Greg Bernhardt, and their children.

 

 

Spotlight on Rogers Farmstead Creamery

As part of our celebration of Dairy Month, 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 15th – 21st, 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 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. 

 

 

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 and suppressed 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 the 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 of 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 Juneteenth 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, held on Saturday, June 17th, and centered around this year’s theme:  Embrace & Belonging. The celebration will showcase various arts and cultural expressions over the course of 12 hours of nonstop entertainment featuring over 50 performers across multiple iconic locations in Burlington’s vibrant downtown. The event is free and open to the public. According to the REIB website, “Through this intentional commemorative act, we mark and celebrate resilience and creativity and elevate Black people who have been the backbone of this nation but often cast in its shadows to center stage in Burlington. This year’s Juneteenth celebration theme, Embrace & Belonging, speaks to the collective work we must do as a community to continue the efforts to actualize the promises of freedom and the right and privileges afforded to full citizenship in the United States, Burlington, and Vermont. Embrace & Belonging encourages Burlingtonians to intentionally practice and support Black people living authentically in all places and spaces.”

Juneteenth Parade in Philadelphia at Malcolm X Park. June 2019

Another local opportunity to honor the occasion 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 eight different trips from Tuesday, June 20th – Thursday, June 22nd. Capacity is limited and available first come, first-served. This gesture is FREE and open to our local Black community members due to the amazing sponsorships and donations. To donate to this wonderful program and help them reach their $10K fundraising goal, click here

 

 

Clemmons Family Farm is also planning a low-key, family-friendly Juneteenth on the Farm Celebration Sunday, June 18th, and Monday, June 19th on their historic homestead in Charlotte, Vermont.

The Freestyling Our Futures Juneteenth Celebration is a collaboration with 30 Clemmons Family Farm collaborating artists in a family-friendly celebration honoring African American culture, freedoms, and our human connectedness. This is a FREE program that is made possible in part through public donations. Attendees will experience spoken word co-creation, storytelling, musical and aerial performances, art-making, and more! Registration for this year’s event is already closed, though a great way to support this year’s event and other vital programming offered by Clemmons Family Farm is to offer a donation. 

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 Juneteenth 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, Clemmons Family Farm, The Milkweed Home Project, the Vermont Professionals of Color Network, SUSU CommUNITY Farm, and Unlikely Riders are great places to start. 

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 8th – 14th! 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.

 

 

The team at Alba Botanica believes that the future is beautiful and they create products that should do beautiful for you and the world we live in!

Co-op Connection Featured Business – Juice Amour

Treat yourself 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 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!

 

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 tasty vegan meals 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.”

Sheri Bedard with her Father, David Bedard

 

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 single-use 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!

Abundant Offerings

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.

If you’re looking for vegan-friendly catering for your next event, you’ll be thrilled to hear that Juice Amour offers a tasty catering menu to make your guests swoon!

Sheri and the Juice Amour crew are proud to be based in Middlebury, Vermont in a spacious, vibrant spot on Merchant’s Row right in the heart of downtown! If you haven’t yet visited, there’s no better time than now! Just don’t forget to flash your Co-op card for a sweet 10% discount!

 

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 1st – 7th, 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!