December 2023

Spotlight on Joe’s Kitchen

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 11th – 17th! 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.

Chef-Owner Joe Buley

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. 

Joe’s crew hard at work at their production kitchen in Montpelier, VT

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?


What’s next for Joe Buley? Well, if you happen to find yourself passing through Montpelier, you must make a stop at Cafe NOA – Joe’s latest labor of love. The new eatery will soon open at 8 Putnam Street (off Barre Street) in Montpelier. Visible from Stone Cutters Way, the newly constructed modern space is situated in a red barn-like building adjacent to the bike path and directly across from Hunger Mountain Co-op. Buley’s new venue, named after his three children: Nikita, Olivia, and Annik, will be a full-service breakfast and lunch cafe with proposed hours from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Offerings will be along the lines of local bacon, sausage, eggs, hash browns, and breakfast sandwiches, and coffee, tea, and espresso will be served. Other items on the menu will be the soups and chili Joe’s Kitchen is known for, fresh salads, sandwiches, and barbecued meats!

Business of the Month: Vermont Sun Fitness Centers

Could your wellness routine use a Spring makeover? Check out Vermont Sun! They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business this month and they offer 50% off their enrollment fee to Co-op member-owners!

Vermont Sun has been keeping our community fit since 1985. Whether you’re visiting their facilities in Middlebury or Vergennes, you’ll find their clubs geared up with the essential elements of a great workout. Their fitness equipment vendors are the best in the industry, and their club owners stay current with the latest technology! They offer a wide variety of cardio, strength, and free weight equipment to ensure that you get the best possible workout.


Both Vermont Sun locations are open Monday thru Friday 6 am-8 pm, Saturday & Sunday 7:30 am-4 pm. This includes the pool as well! Vermont Sun’s two thousand square foot exercise room features a cushioned hardwood floor and is fully air-conditioned. Their top of the line sound system provides amazing sound quality for all group fitness classes.  All group fitness classes are included in most memberships at no extra charge. Find their class schedule on their website

Their facilities also offer racquetball courts, saunas, and indoor pools for lap swimming, rehab, or recreation.

Need help to ease safely back into a workout routine? Or maybe you’re just looking to set some new fitness and nutrition goals and could use a professional guide? Vermont Sun offers Personal Training services and Nutritional Counseling from a knowledgeable staff of certified, credentialed specialists.

In short, Vermont Sun has everything you need to help make your fitness goals a reality! Stop in and find out for yourself why they are voted the #1 Fitness Center in the region year after year! And don’t forget to tell them you’re a Co-op member-owner!





How Can I Talk to the Board?

Dear MNFC Member-Owners, shoppers, and community members, 

Have you ever wondered how to communicate with the Board of Directors, and why you would contact the Board? Meaningful conversation between community members and their elected representatives at the Co-op is one of the many reasons the cooperative business model is unique and powerful. However, with over 6,000 Member-Owners, it can be confusing to know how to start a conversation, or where to turn with a question, concern, or feedback about the Co-op. 


It may be helpful to understand some unique features of how MNFC works. The Board uses a model of governance in which the Board guides the fundamental direction of the Co-op by creating policies that set the purpose (the Ends) of the Co-op. The Board is also responsible for creating and monitoring policies that oversee the General Manager’s work. The General Manager is directly accountable to the Board for all of these policies, which are monitored year round according to a schedule; however, the policies are broad enough to allow the General Manager and Staff the greatest possible operational freedom to achieve the purpose set by the Board. Board policies are available on our website


Here are some ways to bring any kinds of questions, concerns, or feedback to the Board:

  • Email: You can email us at This email address is checked regularly, and exclusively by Board members, typically Board President, Amanda Warren. 
  • Phone: You can call us at (802) 388-7276 ext 377. This phone number is exclusively answered by Board members, again, typically the Board President, Amanda. 
  • Open Board Meetings: All Member-Owners are welcome to attend monthly Board meetings, which are usually held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6-8pm. The schedule is posted on the website. The first five minutes are always reserved for “Member-Owner Business,” and then Member-Owners are welcome to attend the rest of the meeting to observe the Board’s work. Meeting agendas are available  at the customer service desk by register 6, and are published the week preceding the meeting. If you plan to attend, please email the Board ahead of time, so we know to expect you Our next meeting is on December 20, 2023.
  • Talk to a Board Member: You are always welcome to talk to any Board member and share your thoughts. Board members will then bring your questions to the Board as a whole. You can see who is on the Board by visiting our website. The Board takes all feedback seriously. You might wonder: who can talk to the Board of Directors? Anyone! Anyone who has a question, concern, or feedback about the Co-op can bring it to the Board–you don’t have to be a Member-Owner. 
  • Run for the Board: If you’d like to get even more involved, Board elections happen every May. Applications are due mid-March of each year. For more information, visit the website, or get in touch with the Board using any of the methods listed above. 


If you’d like to learn more, or read any of our Board meeting minutes, you can visit our website. We look forward to hearing from you. 


In cooperation,

Amanda Warren (she/her) on behalf of the MNFC Board of Directors, (802) 388-7276 ext 377

Amanda Warren is President of the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Board of Directors

Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op Now Accepting WIC!

Healthy Food Access…that’s the objective, right? Making better food available and affordable for more people. For us at Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, it is an end we are always working towards and it is what was most on our minds as representatives from our Co-op, Brattleboro Co-op, and The Co-op Food Stores flew to D.C. to attend the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on September 23, 2022. Our three co-ops were nominated as conference delegates by leadership of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA).

When we first received an invite to the Conference, there was a collective wave of elation. Then came a wave of concern – how could we best use this amazing opportunity to serve co-ops and our goals for improved healthy food access? Luckily, one concern rose quickly to the top of the pile for Middlebury Co-op – WIC accessibility.

The WIC (Women, Infants, Children) Program is defined by the Vermont Department of Health in this way:

WIC is the USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. WIC provides food benefits, nutrition education, breastfeeding support, counseling, and programs for pregnant Vermonters, parents, and caregivers with children under 5.

There are many wonderful aspects of the WIC program, not the least of which is that it focuses on a specific subset of the population who is particularly vulnerable to the effects of food insecurity. At our Co-op, bringing the healthiest food possible to the population that qualifies for WIC is a priority. Expectant parents often find their way to co-ops during this unique time in their lives, as their concern over personal health and well-being intensifies. Unfortunately, before now, the current constraints of the WIC program made it impossible for our Co-op to meet the participation requirements.

The WIC program is based on a list of foods deemed to be particularly beneficial for WIC recipients. At our Co-op (and at many others), we operate under a set of Buying Criteria. Until recently, some of the products on the WIC food list did not meet our buying criteria. Much of the WIC list requires that retailers carry specific brands and sizes to qualify for WIC participation. Some entire categories (like peanut butter and fruit juice) did not allow any organic brand or product. To participate in the WIC program as a retailer, a store MUST carry a certain number of products that fit into every category, including conventional products and sizes which are only available through a handful of brands, many of which are restricted by our buying criteria. The way this system operated, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op could not accept WIC cards as payment for any products, even the ones on the list that we can carry on our shelves.

Back in 2022, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, Brattleboro Co-op, and The Co-op Food Stores brought this issue to the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. It was there our co-ops were able to meet and talk with Stacey Dean, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services about WIC implementation issues. Stacey Dean listened, took our contact information, and promised to contact the regional VT WIC office. We were left with the assurance that we would be hearing from them, and the promise that “although they may not immediately solve the problem, there will be a thoughtful and intelligent conversation aimed at working through the issue”.

A few weeks later Andrea Miller, WIC Vendor Manager for the VT Department of Health, contacted our Co-op and began to work with us to add brands and products that Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op carried, or met our buying criteria. This was not the easiest of tasks. However, Andrea and Taylor Murray, WIC Nutrition Assistant, took the time to work with us, add the products we carried, help us find products that met our buying criteria and qualified for WIC already, and provide us with the training needed to become a WIC approved retail grocer. After more than a year of work, on Wednesday November 15, 2023, Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op received final approval and became a qualified WIC retailer. This is an amazing win for our community, for our Co-op, and for healthy food access!

If you or anyone you know qualifies for WIC benefits, you also qualify for our Food For All program. Our Food For All program provides an everyday 10% discount on all purchases (excluding beer and wine by law). Apply Here.


Co-op Connection Featured Business–Addison West

With the fast approaching holidays, we’re excited to shine a bright light on Addison West! This shop nestled in the heart of downtown Middlebury offers a skillfully curated lineup of new and vintage items intended to excite and inspire, and they offer a sweet deal for card-carrying Co-op member-owners! Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind this new venture and the folks who bring it to life:


What began as a holiday pop-up in the space at 44 Main Street previously occupied by Community Barn Ventures has since evolved into a full-fledged home design, décor, and lifestyle shop featuring an enticing lineup of gifts, furniture, jewelry, lighting, artwork, and other kitchen and home décor. By November of 2022, Community Barn Ventures had relocated to the Old Stone Mill in Frog Hollow, and Monique Bonner seized the opportunity to change course from a decades-long career as a tech marketing executive to fulfill a lifelong dream of running a retail shop. Bonner officially launched Addison West on her 50th birthday, drawing on her previous experience redesigning and renovating countless bathrooms, kitchens, condos, and homes and fulfilling a passion for connecting people with the spaces and things they love. 

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

Bonner particularly enjoys showcasing the work of local makers, artists, and artisans, so you’ll find among her skillfully curated collection many locally-crafted items and artwork. She also has a particular passion for bringing together things both old and new, sharing in an Addison Independent article her love of “mixing new with vintage, things that have history. That’s a huge part of my philosophy on home design and decorating. I also love that buying vintage or antique items and furniture for your home is another way for us to think and act sustainably.” 

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

As for the name Addison West, Bonner shares on her website that, “well, most simply, we live on West Street in Addison County in Vermont. Addison County is a remarkable area. It’s an area grounded in the earth and landscape. It’s surrounded by mountains, full of farms and dairy cows and amazing, resilient, people. And the idea of the West has always seemed to inspire exploration, new places, the undiscovered. So our ethos is all about the grounded, the historical, the foundational, and at the same time inhabiting the magic of what’s new and what’s possible.”

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography

The overarching goal for Addison West, according to their website is “to have people feel grounded and great. Great about their spaces. Great about their homes, their lives, and their gifts – both what they give to themselves and what they give to others. We really want to inspire people to embrace the best of what they have, while at the same time encouraging them to try new, to mix things up.” As part of their participation in the Co-op Connection program, they generously offer a 10% discount to Co-op member-owners, so consider this your formal invitation to visit Addison West and explore all that they have to offer! Whether you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift, or simply looking for fresh inspiration for your own home, we think you’ll find what you’re looking for at Addison West!

Photo by Elisabeth Waller Photography