Local

Vermont Cheeses Set Record!

We all know that Vermont Cheeses are the best, but it sure is exciting to see that the rest of the country agrees!  At the prestigious American Cheese Society’s 36th Annual Awards competition (ACS) in Richmond, Virginia, Vermont producers, big and small, collectively took home 44 ribbons, marking Vermont’s best showing to date. Additionally, five Vermont cheeses were finalists for the Best of Show!

There were more 2000 entries at the 2019 ACS with 25 Vermont companies submitting cheeses to be judged. This annual competition is supported by the Vermont Cheese Council which provides technical assistance and marketing support for Vermont’s cheesemakers.

“These awards reinforce Vermont’s commitment to quality, which starts with the farmer, on the farm, and is carried right through until the cheese is served, “said Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “Many thanks to the cheesemakers and the Vermont Cheese Council for their hard work helping Vermont’s economy grow by continuing to reinforce and grow the quality of Vermont products.”

Winning Cheeses from Vermont include:

  •  Barn First Creamery, Westfield: Malloy, 1st Place
  • Boston Post Dairy, Enosburg Falls: Eleven Brothers, 2nd Place; Gisele, 3rd Place
  • Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Cabot: Cabot Founders Private Stock, 1st Place; Cabot Centennial, 1st Place; Cabot Garlic & Herb (New York) 1st Place; Old School Cheddar, 2nd Place; McCadam Brick Muenster (New York) 2nd Place; Cabot Salted Butter, (Massachusetts) 3rd Place
  • Cate Hill Orchard, Craftsbury Commons: Vermanchego, 2nd Place
  • Consider Bardwell Farm, West Pawlet: Rupert Reserve, 2nd Place; Goatlet, 1st Place with Crown Finish Caves
  • Fairy Tale Farm, Bridport: Nuberu, 2nd Place
  • Grafton Village Cheese Company, Grafton: Shepsog, 1st Place and Best of Show Finalist; Traditional Clothbound Cheddar, 2nd Place; Bear Hill, 3rd Place
  • Jasper Hill Farm, Greensboro: Cave Aged Cheddar, 1st Place in Category and Best of Show finalist in collaboration with Cabot Creamery Cooperative; Alpha Tolman, 1st Place, Cabot Clothbound, 3rd Place in collaboration with Cabot Creamery Cooperative, Bayley Hazen Blue, 3rd Place; Calderwood, 3rd Place, Hartwell, 3rd Place; Winnimere, 3rd Place; Little Hosmer, 3rd Place
  • Maplebrook Farm, Bennington: Whole Milk Block Feta, 1st Place
  • Mt. Mansfield Creamery, Morrisville: Starr, 1st Place collaboration with Sage Farm Goat Dairy, Stowe
  • Parish Hill Creamery, West Westminster: Reverie, 1st Place; Kashar, 1st Place; Suffolk Punch, 2nd Place
  •  Sage Farm Goat Dairy, Stowe: Starr, 1st Place collaboration with Mt. Mansfield Creamery, Morrisville; Spruce, 1st Place, Smoked Chevre, 2nd Place; Morse Camembert, 2nd Place
  • Spring Brook Farm/Farms for City Kids Foundation, Reading: Tarentaise Reserve, 1st place and Best of Show Finalist; Reading Raclette, 3rd Place
  • Vermont Creamery, Websterville: Bijou, 1st Place and Best of Show Finalist; Classic Spreadable Goat Cheese, 1st Place; Cremont, 2nd Place; Quark, 2nd Place; Goat Feta, 3rd Place; Clover Blossom Honey Fresh Chevre, 3rd Place; We Be Chivin’ with Wegmans Market Affinage Program, 1st Place and Best of Show Finalist; Sweet 16 with Wegmans Market Affinage Program, 3rd Place
  • Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company, Woodstock: Clothbound Windsordale, 3rd Place
  • Vermont Shepherd, Putney: Well-Aged Invierno, 1st Place
  •  von Trapp Farmstead, Waitsfiled:  Mad River Blue, 1st Place

    The ACS is the leading organization supporting the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of farmstead, artisan, and specialty cheeses in the Americas.  ACS hosts North America’s foremost annual cheese-based educational conference, and world-renowned cheese judging and competition.

    For a complete list of the 2019 American Cheese Society winners, click HERE
    For more information on the Vermont Cheese Council visit www.vtcheese.com.

Spotlight on New Leaf Organics

With local harvest season in full swing, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on a wonderful organic farm that not only provides our Co-op with a bounty of organic vegetables but also allows us to offer a stunning variety of locally-grown veggie and herb starts for gardeners in the spring! New Leaf Organics is featured in our Member Deals Spotlight this week, and member-owners can enjoy 20% off their glorious produce from August 8th – 14th!! Read on to learn more about this fantastic local, organic farm hailing from Bristol, VT:

Nestled in the rolling hills near the Bristol-Monkton town line is a sweet little farm called New Leaf Organics. Now in her 19th year in business, Farmer Jill Koppel leads her rockstar crew to produce some of the most beautiful and delicious flowers, fruits, and veggies you’ll find anywhere in Vermont. Their farm has evolved quite a bit over the years, but their core mission remains the same; growing high-quality organic produce, flowers, and plants that improve soil health and strengthen the community.

Their Mission

  • to grow high quality, deliciously fresh organic produce and flowers.
  • to maintain and build the health of our soil and water.
  • to keep this land open and in agricultural production.
  • to bring community together in appreciation of good food and eating with the seasons.
  • to help couples create a memorable wedding day brightened with our beautiful flowers
  • to be a healthy and joyous place for kids to roam and discover and help them learn where our food really comes from.
  • to provide a positive and meaningful place to work for our employees and ourselves.

They grow 5 acres of vegetables, berries, and flowers which are all sold in Vermont. You can find them at farmers markets in Waitsfield and Winooski and they deliver to various area stores and restaurants. You can also sign up for their fruit & veggie CSA.

Looking to send a local, organic bouquet to someone special? New Leaf Organics offers Home Sweet Blooms floral deliveries to homes and businesses in Hinesburg, Vergennes, Middlebury, & Bristol!

Need flowers for an upcoming wedding or event? New Leaf Organics raises over 100 varieties of organic, specialty cut flowers and creates exquisite floral arrangements for weddings and events, from casual to formal. Their services, from full-service arrangements and delivery, to “pick-your-own,” to “weddings-in-a-bucket” are a great fit for all your events. Buying direct from the grower ensures the freshest, highest quality flowers at the best price. Buying organic ensures that agricultural chemicals aren’t endangering our environment or the farmworkers who handle the flowers. Click here to read more about why this matters.

According to Farmer Jill, “I’ve been lucky enough to find a dedicated crew of farming “geeks” who get equally as excited about discovering a great new variety to try or the thrill of our first seeds germinating in the Spring. Having a great crew keeps the farm dynamic and is better every season because of them. My kids, Ruby and Ada, and husband Skimmer make sure we don’t work the whole Summer away… Thanks for your interest in our farm! Supporting local farms like ours ensures that high-quality agricultural soils will be kept in farming for generations to come and proof that together we really can keep Vermont agriculture alive and thriving!”

Spotlight on Aqua ViTea

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Aqua ViTea! All of their non-alcoholic Kombucha is 20% off for member-owners from August 1st – 7th. Read on to learn more about this unique local business with humble beginnings on a Salisbury Farm!

 

History

In 2005, founder Jeff Weaber and his wife Katina Martin moved to Salisbury, Vermont from Portland, Oregon. Portland had been their home for nine years as Katina pursued medical degrees in Naturo

Mike Kin creates the signature Freshketch artwork for Aqua ViTea

pathy, Midwifery, and Acupuncture. During those years, Jeff became a brewer for The Lucky Labrador Brewing Co. and was in the unique position of honing the craft of brewing and fermentation at work, while learning about functional foods and the governing role of the digestive system from Katina at home.

 

While reading Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions and diving into the research of the Weston A. Price foundation, Weaber was introduced to Kombucha. He began experimenting with home-brewed Kombucha and shared the surplus with friends. Weaber found himself amazed by its popularity with both the naturopathic and beer-drinking crowds. “I realized right away that I had found a way to do what I loved and sustain a healthy lifestyle,” says Weaber. The more I learned about the benefits of Kombucha, the more passionate I became about making it available to my community.

His commercial brewing operation began in the cellar of his Salisbury farm and by 2007, Weaber was selling his Kombucha to the happy crowds at the Middlebury Farmers Market under the Aqua ViTea brand. By 2008 he was bottling his product and selling wholesale to our Co-op and a handful of other local markets and, in 2009, our Co-op was proud to be the first co-op in the country to offer Kombucha on tap! Our fountains have been flowing ever since!

As the business grew, Weaber called on Mike Kin, who was a close friend of Weaber’s in Oregon and convinced him to move to Vermont with his family to become the company’s brewer. And if you dig the artwork on Aqua ViTea’s packaging and materials as much as we do, you’ve got Mike to thank for these. He sketches each one by hand, creating the funky, colorful, amazing signature artwork that you see on all of AquaVitea’s products!

By 2014, demand began to outpace production capacity and plans to move Aqua ViTea’s production off the farm began to ferment. They first moved to a state-of-the-art facility in Bristol, VT, followed by yet another upgrade in 2017 to an even more impressive facility -the former home of Woodchuck Cider on Exchange Street in Middlebury. They now produce about 30,000 gallons a month and their line of bottled and draft kombuchas is distributed in 25 states!

Jeff Weaber & Mike Kin

Mission

According to Aqua ViTea’s website:

Our mission since the beginning has been to sustain and cultivate the core foundation of healthy, sustainable communities through a series of interrelated actions and principles.

We evaluate the environmental impact of our business decisions to remain mindful of how they will affect all aspects of living and life. We seek to source the finest quality ingredients and work with regional providers whenever feasible. We work to create opportunities not only for our team, but for you, that will make a positive difference in our and your food consumption, lifestyle choices, and career paths. We recognize and remind ourselves and you to acknowledge the responsibility to contribute and give back to the community.

Commitment to Authenticity

Controversy has been brewing in the Kombucha community surrounding the fact that many commercially available Kombucha brands have been found to contain significantly more sugar and more alcohol than their labels disclose. Additionally, some large-scale Kombucha products are being manufactured in a lab setting, force carbonated, and even pasteurized, with the probiotic cultures added artificially as “ingredients” to the end product.

Aqua ViTea, since day one, has shown a deep commitment to authenticity. This begins by sourcing the highest quality ingredients, including sustainably-sourced organic tea from Middlebury’s Stone Leaf Teahouse and organic cane sugar to feed the ferment. Their Kombucha is the product of a live, active fermentation, which allows the live cultures and enzymes to develop naturally and delivers the tangy effervescence that Kombucha drinkers love.

Additionally, they are one of only two Kombucha makers in the U.S. to invest in a spinning cone column – a machine typically used in wine-making – which allows for the extraction and recovery of volatile compounds, including alcohol, without the need for excessive heat. And since the alcohol is removed at the end of fermentation, the active cultures can grow at their own pace, which results in authentic, delicious and non-alcoholic Kombucha. They even employ an in-house microbiologist to analyze the safety and purity of their products! Dr. Bill Yawney oversees their food safety standards and works in their state-of-the-art in-house lab to create standards for testing alcohol levels in Kombucha produced by Aqua ViTea and by other Kombucha producers. You can read more about that here.

The Famous Cone Extractor removing the alcohol from Aqua ViTea’s Kombucha

 

 

You’ll notice that Aqua ViTea Kombucha now bears the Alcohol Extracted Verified Seal, so you know what you’re getting (and not getting) when you drink their Kombucha.

 

 

Wonder where that alcohol is going after it’s extracted from Aqua ViTea Kombucha?

They send it right down the road to their friends at Appalachian Gap Distillery, where it is turned into a distinct and flavorful vodka known as Aqua Vodka. It’s the perfect blend of ancient tradition and modern technology! Click here to read all about it.

Also, an exciting new addition to the Aqua ViTea lineup is AfterGlow Hard Kombucha! This is a smooth, tasty alternative to beer and cider and a more natural option than spiked seltzers. It’s organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, and made with only the finest sustainably-sourced ingredients. While they do extract the alcohol from their traditional Kombucha, that alcohol is not used in creating AfterGlow. Instead, they let AfterGlow’s natural alcohol mature through fermentation and into the can – resulting in a mindfully made adult beverage. Click here to read more about it.

 

 

 

 

Summer Pasta Salad

Looking for a cool meal for a hot summer night? Or a tasty make-ahead dish to take to a summer potluck? This pasta salad combines fresh, seasonal summer veggies & local pasta with tangy dressing, olives, and feta for a perfectly balanced summer meal. Many of the ingredients are featured in our weekly sale from July 11th – 17th, so this one’s easy on the wallet, too! Feel free to be creative with veggie add-ins. This is the kind of salad that can be built around just about any veggies that are abundant in your garden (or the local farm down the road) this time of year.

Spotlight on Boyden Farm

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Boyden Farm this week! From July 11th – 17th, member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of sustainably-raised beef! Read on to learn more about their 54-acre diversified farm and their belief in a closed-loop agricultural system:

Since 1914, the Boyden Family has been farming the majestic Lamoille River valley fields at the intersection of Route 104 and 15 in Cambridge, Vermont. What began as a dairy has evolved through the years into a diversified farm producing naturally raised beef cattle, field crops, maple production, wine & spirits, even weddings, and events! Patriarch Fred Boyden and his wife, Diancy have two sons, Mark and David. The brothers have been ingeniously innovative over the last 20 years, helping the farm evolve and adapt with a focus on a future which will continue to enrich the entire farm.

Alongside Mark and David are their wives, Lauri and Linda, who are instrumental in the operations of various aspects of the farm and winery 

 

The Boyden Family is doing what very few farmers are doing anywhere. Their unique “Birth to Butcher” growing process ensures that they raise their cattle from birth and own and control the process all the way through to the butcher shop. Their own special breed, from their proprietary bull, produces the most tender beef available. They remain committed to offering high-quality local beef that is:

  • Sustainably Raised
  • Fed a high-grass diet of certified organic grasses grown on their farm
  • All natural
  • Non-GMO certified by the third-party nonprofit Non-GMO Project

Additionally, they believe in a closed-loop agricultural system. For their farm, this means making efficient use of their crops to eliminate waste. Their certified organic soybeans are sold to Vermont Soy for local tofu production. The okara, which is the part of the soybean not used in tofu, is then fed to their animals, closing the loop of the biological system. Even the straw portion of their organic soybeans is repurposed into barn bedding to keep the cows cozy!

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Boyden Farm

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Boyden Farm this week! From July 11th – 17th, member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of sustainably-raised beef! Read on to learn more about their 54-acre diversified farm and their belief in a closed-loop agricultural system:

Since 1914, the Boyden Family has been farming the majestic Lamoille River valley fields at the intersection of Route 104 and 15 in Cambridge, Vermont. What began as a dairy has evolved through the years into a diversified farm producing naturally raised beef cattle, field crops, maple production, wine & spirits, even weddings, and events! Patriarch Fred Boyden and his wife, Diancy have two sons, Mark and David. The brothers have been ingeniously innovative over the last 20 years, helping the farm evolve and adapt with a focus on a future which will continue to enrich the entire farm.

Alongside Mark and David are their wives, Lauri and Linda, who are instrumental in the operations of various aspects of the farm and winery 

 

The Boyden Family is doing what very few farmers are doing anywhere. Their unique “Birth to Butcher” growing process ensures that they raise their cattle from birth and own and control the process all the way through to the butcher shop. Their own special breed, from their proprietary bull, produces the most tender beef available. They remain committed to offering high-quality local beef that is:

  • Sustainably Raised
  • Fed a high-grass diet of certified organic grasses grown on their farm
  • All natural
  • Non-GMO certified by the third-party nonprofit Non-GMO Project

Additionally, they believe in a closed-loop agricultural system. For their farm, this means making efficient use of their crops to eliminate waste. Their certified organic soybeans are sold to Vermont Soy for local tofu production. The okara, which is the part of the soybean not used in tofu, is then fed to their animals, closing the loop of the biological system. Even the straw portion of their organic soybeans is repurposed into barn bedding to keep the cows cozy!

 

 

 

 

Summer Pasta Salad

Looking for a cool meal for a hot summer night? Or a tasty make-ahead dish to take to a summer potluck? This pasta salad combines fresh, seasonal summer veggies & local pasta with tangy dressing, olives, and feta for a perfectly balanced summer meal. Many of the ingredients are featured in our weekly sale from July 11th – 17th, so this one’s easy on the wallet, too! Feel free to be creative with veggie add-ins. This is the kind of salad that can be built around just about any veggies that are abundant in your garden (or the local farm down the road) this time of year.

Spotlight on Wood’s Market Garden

There are certain fruits and vegetables that seem to announce the changing of the seasons and for us here at the Co-op, the day we receive our first delivery of local, organic tomatoes and strawberries from Wood’s Market Garden, we know that summer is finally here! We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Wood’s Market Garden this week to highlight their magnificent 150-acre organic farm in Brandon, VT. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off all of their glorious local, organic fruits and veggies from June 27th – July 3rd.  Read on to learn more about their farm and the family that makes it possible for us to offer such a beautiful bounty:

Wood’s Market Garden is a fruit, vegetable & flower farm and seasonal market nestled in the quaint town of Brandon, Vermont. Their fields have been producing fresh food for the greater Brandon community for over 100 years!

The farm consists of 150 acres of Vermont farmland and woods. Known far and wide for their delicious sweet corn and plump, sweet strawberries, they also grow over 50 kinds of vegetables and fruits on 60 acres of sandy loam soils. Their produce and vegetable plants are certified organic, and in addition to their field production, they also have 7 greenhouses for raising bedding plants, ornamentals, vegetable starts and the tastiest early tomatoes in the state! Their unique varieties of plants and passion for quality crops keeps people coming back year after year.

Farmer Jon Satz purchased the iconic Wood’s farm from Bob and Sally Wood in 2000. With his passion for growing and sustainable farming practices, the farm and market have blossomed into a destination for beautiful organic vegetables, quality bedding plants and some of the sweetest strawberries around! Jon, his wife Courtney, and their 2 young sons make their home on the farm and enjoy the continued legacy of farming the land that the Wood family started generations ago.

Their farm stand and market are open 7 days a week during the spring and summer season. Outside, it’s a paradise of plants, hanging baskets, creeping vines, and gardens to wander. Perhaps you’ve seen it while driving down Route 7 South through Brandon? You’ll notice Jones Mill Pond, which during the warm summer months is covered with those famous pink water lilies, and Wood’s sprawling acres of lush fields and greenhouses surrounding the pond.

Inside the market, the shelves and baskets are filled with gorgeous fresh produce from the farm. Depending on what’s in season, you’ll find everything from fresh spinach to strawberries to squash. In addition to produce, they have an unbelievable variety of artisanal cheese, organic milk and local dairy products, local meat and poultry, fresh baked goods, maple syrup, honey, jam and more! It’s a foodie paradise at Wood’s Market….a really fun place to shop, and guaranteed to make you smile. Stop in and see them on your next trip through Brandon!

Better Burgers

Tired of bland burgers? Looking to up your burger game? Then this recipe is for you! A hamburger patty is a great vehicle for loads of flavor, so feel free to be creative! This particular recipe features Italian flavors, but you can experiment with other herbs and spices for your own unique twist. You’ll find McKnight Farm’s local, organic ground beef in our weekly sale from June 13th – 19th, along with Vermont Bread Company’s organic hamburger buns, and Cabot sliced cheeses, so it’s a perfect time to fire up the grill and give these a try!

Spotlight on Vermont Soap

Vermont Soap is basking in the Member Deals Spotlight this week! From June 13th – 19th, 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 100% natural and non-toxic alternatives to the chemical-based personal care products on the market:

 

 

History

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. 

Mission Statement:

We recognize 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.
We emphasize the wholeness and integration of the company departments through communication, participation in the growth process, and acceptance of responsibility among co-workers.
We pledge to conduct our business in an environmentally aware manner emphasizing reuse and recycling, the use of natural base ingredients, and the application of appropriate technology.

 

 

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