Coffee

Spotlight on Tierra Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Tierra Farm this week to highlight the socially and environmentally responsible practices of this employee-owned business. They provide an array of healthy products to our bulk department that are certified organic, gluten-free, kosher, and GMO-free, all of which are produced in small batches in their solar-powered facility in nearby Valatie, NY. They’re featured in our Member Deals program this week, so member-owners can enjoy 20% off their delicious fair-trade coffee, dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, and other healthy snacks from May 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn more about this fantastic small business and their commitment to responsible practices throughout the supply chain:

Tierra Farm is a Certified Organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts, dried fruits, and coffee located 20 miles south of Albany, New York. Their customers consist mainly of cooperatives and independently owned grocery stores that value working with an employee-owned, environmentally conscious company that manufactures its own products.

Tierra Farm started as a diversified organic vegetable farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The organic nuts & dried fruit portion of the business started in 1999, as a way to generate income in the slower winter months. That portion of the business has continued to thrive and evolve into a year-round operation, though they still maintain their original farm.

Tierra Farm offers their customers exceptional value through unbeatable quality at prices that are fair both to the consumer and to the farmer. Their products are made without preservatives, added oils or refined sugars, in their own peanut-free facility. They manufacture the products they sell: dry roasting and flavoring nuts and seeds, blending trail mixes, grinding butter, covering nuts and fruits in fair-trade chocolate, and roasting fair trade coffee. Everything is made in small, hand-crafted batches for freshness.

One of their core values has been to cultivate strong relationships with the best organic farmers in the world. They work directly with the farmers from which they source their nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and have worked with some of these farmers for over a decade. Being in direct communication with their farmers allows the preservation of their organic integrity and ensures fair business practices throughout the supply chain.

Tierra Farm handles only Certified Organic products which are grown without synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or chemical fertilizers. This helps sustain biodiversity, conserves fresh water, and enhances the soil. They generate over 70% of their electricity from solar panels and recycle over 60% of their waste. Their boxes are made from recycled cardboard and their deli cup containers are made from over 50% recycled material – both are recyclable after use. They’re continuously looking for better ways to protect the planet.

Tierra Farm also values the importance of investing in their staff. They have an in-house gym, an in-house chef who cooks daily organic, gluten-free meals for staff – often using fresh produce directly from their farm, a staff masseuse who visits weekly, and they offer many employee health initiatives such as a smoking cessation program that allows their staff to be 100% tobacco-free.

If you’re passing through the Albany area, they invite you to check out their retail store at Tierra Farm’s headquarters in Valatie, NY, where local customers are able to purchase all of their (almost 200) products!

Spotlight on Tierra Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Tierra Farm this week to highlight the socially and environmentally responsible practices of this employee-owned business. They provide an array of healthy products to our bulk department that are certified organic, gluten-free, kosher, and GMO-free, all of which are produced in small batches in their solar-powered facility in nearby Valatie, NY. They’re featured in our Member Deals program this week, so member-owners can enjoy 20% off their delicious fair-trade coffee, dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, and other healthy snacks from May 24th – 30th! Read on to learn more about this fantastic small business and their commitment to responsible practices throughout the supply chain:

Tierra Farm is a Certified Organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts, dried fruits, and coffee located 20 miles south of Albany, New York. Their customers consist mainly of cooperatives and independently owned grocery stores that value working with an employee-owned, environmentally conscious company that manufactures its own products.

Tierra Farm started as a diversified organic vegetable farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The organic nuts & dried fruit portion of the business started in 1999, as a way to generate income in the slower winter months. That portion of the business has continued to thrive and evolve into a year-round operation, though they still maintain their original farm.

Tierra Farm offers their customers exceptional value through unbeatable quality at prices that are fair both to the consumer and to the farmer. Their products are made without preservatives, added oils or refined sugars, in their own peanut-free facility. They manufacture the products they sell: dry roasting and flavoring nuts and seeds, blending trail mixes, grinding butter, covering nuts and fruits in fair-trade chocolate, and roasting fair trade coffee. Everything is made in small, hand-crafted batches for freshness.

One of their core values has been to cultivate strong relationships with the best organic farmers in the world. They work directly with the farmers from which they source their nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and have worked with some of these farmers for over a decade. Being in direct communication with their farmers allows the preservation of their organic integrity and ensures fair business practices throughout the supply chain.

Tierra Farm handles only Certified Organic products which are grown without synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or chemical fertilizers. This helps sustain biodiversity, conserves fresh water, and enhances the soil. They generate over 70% of their electricity from solar panels and recycle over 60% of their waste. Their boxes are made from recycled cardboard and their deli cup containers are made from over 50% recycled material – both are recyclable after use. They’re continuously looking for better ways to protect the planet.

Tierra Farm also values the importance of investing in their staff. They have an in-house gym, an in-house chef who cooks daily organic, gluten-free meals for staff – often using fresh produce directly from their farm, a staff masseuse who visits weekly, and they offer many employee health initiatives such as a smoking cessation program that allows their staff to be 100% tobacco-free.

If you’re passing through the Albany area, they invite you to check out their retail store at Tierra Farm’s headquarters in Valatie, NY, where local customers are able to purchase all of their (almost 200) products!

Spotlight on Vermont Coffee Company

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Vermont Coffee Company this week to spread the love for this small town coffee roaster located right here in Middlebury, VT. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off all Vermont Coffee Company products from August 31st – September 6th, so it’s a great time to stock up and save. Read on to learn more about this fantastic local business, their passion for great coffee, and their latest adventures in community theater.

VCC BLOCK LOGO

About Us

Vermont Coffee Company is a small-town roaster located on Exchange Street in Middlebury, Vermont. The big flavor and complex character of our coffees are highlights of our unique style of slow-roasting our beans in small batches, that we have perfected since we began roasting in 1979.

Sirocco steam

All of our beans are certified organic. We source them from the great coffee-growing regions around the world, and we seek out big flavor and bold character in the beans we choose. We treat coffee like produce so you can enjoy it fresh. The coffee is harvested at the peak of freshness, we receive it when the beans are green, then we roast to order and ship daily.

IMG_2839
fresh from harvest
dave-green beans
green beans

Have you visited our cafe? We’re open Monday – Friday from 8 am – 2 pm, serving fresh-roasted coffee and espresso drinks, a simple breakfast and lunch menu, grab-and-go items, or coffee by the pound. Enjoy free wifi while you sit and relax, or meet with your friends & co-workers!

cafe interior1

Our motto, “Coffee Roasted for Friends” is more than a slogan, it is really our mission. Coffee is a social stimulus that brings people together to share ideas and stories, and when people come together, a community is formed and friends are made.

IMG_2564

A Note from Founder & President, Paul Ralston

I love coffee. I love making it, drinking it, and sharing it with friends. I like exploring new coffee crops and origins, “cupping” the samples to find the best components for my blends. I particularly enjoy roasting the beans to bring out the best from each batch.

All the coffees we buy are certified organic and fair trade. While on their own, these aren’t ‘quality standards,’ they are standards for a higher quality of living for the farmers who grow our coffee. We believe farmers who are paid fairly can afford to grow quality crops, and that has been our experience. Click here to read ‘Our Organic, Fair Trade Policy’.

We don’t offer a huge number of coffees. We specialize in a narrow range of Big, Bold coffee. We roast for decisive people who know what they want and want to brew it strong!

Coffee & Theater

In July of 2016, Vermont Coffee Company embarked on a new phase in their adventure – community theater! The Vermont Coffee Company Playhouse is a 70-seat theater located within their existing space on Exchange Street, complete with lighting obtained from Middlebury College and a hand-made stage constructed by Ralston. The space has an industrial warehouse vibe, creating a comfortable, accessible atmosphere.  They recently hosted a debut party and performance directed by and starring Deb Gwinn, wife of VCC owner Paul Ralston.

Gwinn will serve as artistic director of the playhouse. She is known locally for directing 18 seasons of Shakespeare in the Barn at Mary’s Restaurant at the Inn at Baldwin Creek in Bristol.

“Our whole thing is about bringing people together,” Ralston said. “What do people do in communities? They talk; they eat; they do art; they share their creativity.”

Ralston hopes to host events at the theater at least once a month, and sees the theater as part of Exchange Street’s renaissance. He’d like to see the former industrial thoroughfare become a vibrant arts and culture hub, much like Pine Street in Burlington’s South End. Be sure to check out some live, local theater in this great new space!

Spotlight on Equal Exchange Co-op

October is Fair Trade Month and Co-op Month, so it seemed like an ideal time to shine our Co-op spotlight on Equal Exchange. Their Co-op produced, Fair Trade Certified goods are all 20% off for member-owners this week! Although they are best known for their gourmet coffees, you can also find Equal Exchange chocolate, bananas, and avocados here at the Co-op! Read on to learn more about this democratic worker-owned cooperative headquartered in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

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The Equal Exchange cooperative was founded in 1986 to challenge the existing trade model, which favors large plantations, agri-business, and multi-national corporations; support small farmers; and connect consumers and producers through information, education, and the exchange of products in the marketplace. They joined a growing movement of small farmers, alternative traders (ATOs), religious organizations, and non-profits throughout the world with like-minded principles and objectives. Underlying their work is the belief that only through organization, can small farmers survive and thrive. The cooperative model has been essential for building this model of change.

Their mission is to build long-term trade partnerships that are economically just and environmentally sound, to foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers and to demonstrate, through their success, the contribution of worker co-operatives and Fair Trade to a more equitable, democratic and sustainable world.

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So, What Does Authentic Fair Trade Entail?

Here’s the scoop from the Equal Exchange website:

Fair Trade is a way of doing business that ultimately aims to keep small farmers an active part of the world marketplace, and aims to empower consumers to make purchases that support their values. Fair Trade is a set of business practices voluntarily adopted by the producers and buyers of agricultural commodities and hand-made crafts that are designed to advance many economic, social and environmental goals, including:

  • Raising and stabilizing the incomes of small-scale farmers, farm workers, and artisans
  • More equitably distributing the economic gains, opportunities and risks associated with the production and sale of these goods
  • Increasing the organizational and commercial capacities of producer groups
  • Supporting democratically owned and controlled producer organizations
  • Promoting labor rights and the right of workers to organize
  • Promoting safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions
  • Connecting consumers and producers
  • Increasing consumer awareness and engagement with issues affecting producers

The Fair Trade practices that advance these goals typically, but not always, include:

  • Direct trade relationships and long-term contracts between importers and producer groups
  • Sourcing from small-farmer or artisan co-operatives
  • Higher than conventional market prices, either through above-market premiums and/or price floors
  • The provision of affordable credit
  • Adherence to the policies of the International Labor Organization, especially those concerning child and forced labor and the right to collective bargaining
  • The prohibition of the use of more dangerous pesticides and herbicides
  • Substantial price premiums for the production of certified organic crops
  • External monitoring, auditing, and certification of these practices by independent third-parties

What Impact is Fair Trade Having on Farmers & Their Communities?

Check out this 10-year impact report:  10yearsofimpact

And here’s a look at the impact of your Equal Exchange banana purchases in 2015:

2015impactinfographic

 

Do you purchase Equal Exchange avocados? Check out the impact those purchases had for 2014-15: 2014-5avocadoimpact

Want to trace the path your banana takes from the farm to your kitchen table? Check out this cool video!

Spotlight on Vermont Coffee Company

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Vermont Coffee Company this week to spread the love for this small town coffee roaster located right here in Middlebury, VT. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off all Vermont Coffee Company products this week, so it’s a great time to stock up and save. Read on to learn more about this fantastic local business, their passion for great coffee, and their latest adventures in community theater.

VCC BLOCK LOGO

About Us

Vermont Coffee Company is a small-town roaster located on Exchange Street in Middlebury, Vermont. The big flavor and complex character of our coffees are highlights of our unique style of slow-roasting our beans in small batches, that we have perfected since we began roasting in 1979.

Sirocco steam

All of our beans are certified organic. We source them from the great coffee-growing regions around the world, and we seek out big flavor and bold character in the beans we choose. We treat coffee like produce so you can enjoy it fresh. The coffee is harvested at the peak of freshness, we receive it when the beans are green, then we roast to order and ship daily.

IMG_2839
fresh from harvest
dave-green beans
green beans

Have you visited our cafe? We’re open Monday – Friday from 8 am – 2 pm, serving fresh-roasted coffee and espresso drinks, a simple breakfast and lunch menu, grab-and-go items, or coffee by the pound. Enjoy free wifi while you sit and relax, or meet with your friends & co-workers!

cafe interior1

Our motto, “Coffee Roasted for Friends” is more than a slogan, it is really our mission. Coffee is a social stimulus that brings people together to share ideas and stories, and when people come together, a community is formed and friends are made.

IMG_2564

A Note from Founder & President, Paul Ralston

I love coffee. I love making it, drinking it, and sharing it with friends. I like exploring new coffee crops and origins, “cupping” the samples to find the best components for my blends. I particularly enjoy roasting the beans to bring out the best from each batch.

All the coffees we buy are certified organic and fair trade. While on their own, these aren’t ‘quality standards,’ they are standards for a higher quality of living for the farmers who grow our coffee. We believe farmers who are paid fairly can afford to grow quality crops, and that has been our experience. Click here to read ‘Our Organic, Fair Trade Policy’.

We don’t offer a huge number of coffees. We specialize on a narrow range of Big, Bold coffee. We roast for decisive people who know what they want and want to brew it strong!

Coffee & Theater

In July, Vermont Coffee Company embarked on a new phase in their adventure – community theater! The Vermont Coffee Company Playhouse is a 70-seat theater located at within their existing space on Exchange Street, complete with lighting obtained from Middlebury College and a hand-made stage constructed by Ralston. The space has an industrial warehouse vibe, creating a comfortable, accessible atmosphere.  They recently hosted a debut party and performance directed by and starring Deb Gwinn, wife of VCC owner Paul Ralston.

Gwinn will serve as artistic director of the playhouse. She is known locally for directing 18 seasons of Shakespeare in the Barn at Mary’s Restaurant at the Inn at Baldwin Creek in Bristol. For the past six years, she has mounted invitation-only performances in a teeny-tiny Middlebury studio in the building that currently houses the toy shop Ollie’s Other Place.

For the opening event last weekend, Gwinn enlisted local actors to perform her new work “Billy the Kid Sister.” The 20-minute comedy was inspired by and set to Aaron Copland’s 1938 ballet Billy the Kid. There was no dialogue. “It’s acting to music,” explained Gwinn. “It’s not unlike dance, but we don’t call it that. Some people feel it’s kind of like a silent movie.”

“Our whole thing is about bringing people together,” Ralston said. “What do people do in communities? They talk; they eat; they do art; they share their creativity.”

Ralston hopes to host events at the theater at least once a month, and sees the theater as part of Exchange Street’s renaissance. He’d like to see the former industrial thoroughfare become a vibrant arts and culture hub, much like Pine Street in Burlington’s South End. With a slate of proposed improvement projects to Exchange Street in the works, including a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk, it seems this dream just might become a reality.

 

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