Local

Local Oktoberfest Dinner

It’s a lot of fun to celebrate culinary traditions, even when they aren’t necessarily a part of one’s personal cultural heritage. They open our minds and our palates to the unique traditions and flavors of different cultures. With this in mind, we’re sharing a delicious recipe for an Oktoberfest meal with a special Vermont twist! It’s the final week of our September Eat Local Challenge, so this Oktoberfest dinner features a spectacular lineup of local ingredients!  Dabbling in this German culinary tradition is also budget-friendly since many of the ingredients are featured in our weekly sale from September 26th – October 2nd, so grab your stein and your lederhosen and celebrate the flavors of Oktoberfest!

Spotlight on Urban Moonshine

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Urban Moonshine this week and all of their wonderful wellness products are 20% off for member-owners from September 26th – October 2nd. They offer a wide range of high-quality organic products ranging from digestive bitters for your belly, to tonics that pick you up or simmer you down. With a strong emphasis on ethical sourcing processes and a mission to make herbalism more accessible, we’re happy to shed a little light on this women-run company hailing from Burlington, Vermont. Read on to learn more about them:

 

 

Urban Moonshine was founded in 2008 in Jovial King’s kitchen with the goal of making herbal medicine more accessible. They specialize in high quality liquid herbal extracts with a focus on digestive bitters, herbal tonics, and everyday health remedies. Urban Moonshine has grown from a booth at the local farmers’ market to a nationally distributed and recognized brand while staying true to its mission of bringing high-quality, certified organic herbal medicine to more people and changing the way we think about the healing power of plants. They aim to return the use of herbal medicine to daily life, to bring it “out of the cupboard and onto the counter”.  They see their herbal products as part of a growing wellness movement, focused on authentic, effective, whole plant solutions. Urban Moonshine is based in beautiful Burlington, VT and is proud to be a woman-run company.

An extremely big moment in the Urban Moonshine story occurred last year: the amazing independent herbal tea company Traditional Medicinals acquired Urban Moonshine! Fundamental to that story is that Traditional Medicinals was co-founded in Sebastopol, CA in the early ’70s by one of Vermont’s most beloved/legendary herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, who was also one of Urban Moonshine founder Jovial’s first herbal teachers! Both companies are on the same path bringing high quality, organic herbal medicine into more people’s lives and they’re thrilled to be able to lean on Traditional Medicinal’s experience to help continue to build Urban Moonshine from the small kitchen to farmers’ market business Jovial started in 2009.

Both botanical wellness companies are aligned with the usage of high-quality organic ingredients, ethical sourcing processes and a mission to make herbalism more accessible by connecting people to the power of plants. Traditional Medicinals and Urban Moonshine will continue to operate separately and retain existing headquarters in Sonoma County, CA and Burlington, VT.

Be sure to check out Urban Moonshine’s blog to stay up to date on the latest in herbal wellness.

Apple Yogurt Parfait

We’re just past the halfway point of our September Eat Local Challenge and we think you’ll love this quick and easy Apple Yogurt Parfait featuring a list of some of our favorite local ingredients. This parfait makes a delicious breakfast, snack, or dessert that you can prepare in advance and enjoy on the go! For the dessert version, consider drizzling with a bit of local honey or maple syrup. You’ll find most of the ingredients you’ll need in our weekly sale from September 19th – 25th, so it’s a perfect time to whip up this localvore treat!

Spotlight on Golden Russet Farm

As we continue to celebrate Eat Local Month, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on a local, organic farm that has been part of our Co-op family for over 30 years – Golden Russet Farm! We acquire more produce from their farm than from any other farm in Vermont! Member-owners can enjoy 20% their abundant array of local, organic veggies and their glorious fresh-cut bouquets from September 19th – 25th! Read on to learn more about this wonderful farm and the fine folks who work tirelessly to make it such a special place:

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Farming Organically Since 1981

Farm owners Will and Judy Stevens have been growing organic vegetables commercially since 1981, having started on a small plot of rented land in Monkton, VT. After growing their business and refining their techniques, all the while learning from other pioneers in the Vermont organic farming community, they determined it was time to expand their operation. In 1984 they purchased a former dairy farm with good soils in the agriculturally-rich town of Shoreham, VT, in the southwestern corner of Addison County—and this land has been home to Golden Russet Farm ever since! Recently their daughter Pauline returned home to the farm making it a true family affair.

Certified Organic in 1987

The Stevens have always used exclusively organic production practices on their vegetable and greenhouse operations and became certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers in 1987. Among other things, this means they use crop rotation, cover crops, biological and naturally-derived pest controls, compost, animal manure, and naturally-derived fertilizers as standard management practices.

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CSA, Farmstand, Greenhouse Sales & Cut Flowers for Events

Golden Russet Farm starts off the season with vegetable and flower plant sales in the greenhouses and the Farm-to-Kitchen Connection CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. In addition to raising vegetables for market, Judy also grows flowers for cutting, which adds color to the fields and creates habitat for beneficial insects. You’ll find these beautiful bouquets for sale throughout the summer months at the Co-op.

 

A Hyper-Local Sales Focus

Since 2003, the farm’s focus has been on “hyper-local,” meaning that approximately 90% of their produce has been consumed within 20 miles of the farm. Their produce is available at the farm stand, their CSA, at food markets in Middlebury and Burlington, and at Addison County restaurants.

Solar Powered Since 2013

In April of 2013 the Stevens put up five free-standing solar panels which provide them with all of their farm and personal electrical energy needs.

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About The Farmers

Judy is a fourth-generation Vermonter from southern Vermont. Her family ran a successful Christmas tree business in the Londonderry area for many years. This experience helped her and Will create a successful mail order wreath business that they ran from the farm until about 2000. Will moved to Vermont from the Ticonderoga, NY area in 1977 to finish his college education at the University of Vermont, which is where he and Judy met. He graduated in 1980 with a BA in studio art, with a specialty in blacksmithing.

After spending the summer of 1980 at Shelburne Museum (Judy as a weaver, and Will in the Blacksmith’s Shop), they were serendipitously presented with the opportunity to ramp up their homestead gardening interest to a commercial scale, and in the first several years everything they grew was sold exclusively at the Burlington Farmers’ Market. From the beginning, their mission has been to provide good quality food to people at reasonable prices.

Shortly after they moved to an old dairy farm in Shoreham, VT, in November 1984, they began to raise a family–Freeman was born in 1986, Pauline in 1989, and Anna came along in 1991. The kids had a sand pile in front of the shed, which, as the greenhouse plant business grew over the years, became a magnet for customers’ children. At some point, the pile was moved to its present location at the corner of the flower garden, which makes it much easier for shopping parents to keep an eye on their children!

Will & Judy. Flashback.1991. cropped

Between 1989 and 1992, Will served as President of Vermont Organic Farmers, which then was NOFA-VT’s certification committee. This was an exciting time in the world of organic agriculture. The sudden interest in the link between food safety and production practices was inspired by Meryl Streep’s CBS appearance on 60 Minutes in the fall of 1989 when she railed against a particular spray used on apples. “Mothers and Others for Pesticide Limits” was formed, bringing public awareness to the benefits of organic agriculture. Suddenly, a fringe movement that had been based on back-to-the-land ideals found itself moving toward the mainstream. Some would say that this was the beginning of the localvore movement.

Judy served for 3 years on the board of the Vermont Fresh Network. VFN strives to foster meaningful, mutually profitable relationships between Vermont food producers and chefs and was one of the earliest formal “Farm to Table” initiatives in the nation.

Judy and Will have been actively involved in Town affairs through various organizations and boards. Judy served on the Rescue Squad through much of the eighties and has played an important role in the expansion and promotion of Shoreham’s Platt Memorial Library over the last twenty years. Will was elected to the Town Planning Commission in the mid-nineties and eventually chaired it for several years. He has since served on the Select and Zoning Boards and has been elected Town Moderator every year since 2004.

In November 2006 Will was elected to the Vermont Legislature (as an Independent, representing the Towns of Benson, Orwell, Shoreham, and Whiting) for the first of four two-year terms. He was on the House Agriculture and Forest Products Committee all eight years and served the last four as ranking member. He is especially proud of two programs that came out of his committee during that time: the Farm to Plate and Working Lands Initiatives.

 

Be sure to visit their blog for a fantastic zucchini corn fritter recipe and other fresh, tasty recipes!

Localvore Beef Stew

As our Eat Local Challenge rolls on, we’re excited to share this celebration of local ingredients known as Localvore Beef Stew. It combines many locally-grown items that you’ll find in our weekly sale from September 12th – 18th, making this a budget-friendly option. We also think you’ll love the flexibility of this recipe, as it can be a catch-all for the abundance of produce coming out of your late summer garden. That’s why you’ll find celeriac in this recipe in the place of the more traditional celery since celeriac is more likely available from a local farm this time of year and offers a very similar flavor profile. No celeriac? No problem! Just use celery, instead.

Spotlight on Champlain Orchards

The crisp chill in the morning air and the first few dappled leaves high in the mountains signal that autumn is nearly here, as does the abundance of local apples. We’re nearing the half-way point of our Eat Local Challenge and we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on one of the oldest continuously operating orchards in Vermont – Champlain Orchards in Shoreham! They’re featured in our Member Deals Spotlight this week, so member-owners can enjoy 20% off their stunning array of fresh apples and apple products including sweet apple cider, apple pies, and apple cider donuts, along with their plums and red pears from September 12th – 18th! Read on to learn more about this family-owned, solar-powered, ecologically-managed orchard overlooking Lake Champlain.

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The story of Champlain Orchards as we know it today began in 1998, when twenty-seven-year-old Bill Suhr purchased 60 acres of orchard in Shoreham, Vermont.  Bill’s motivation and initiative to live off the land overshadowed the fact that apple growing and fruit farming were not in his realm of knowledge, but thanks to the seasoned expertise of long-established neighboring orchardists Sandy Witherell, Scott and Bob Douglas, and Judy Pomainville – who all shared equipment, land, and information, it wasn’t long before the orchard was thriving.  In the early days, Bill delivered 20 bushels at a time in a station wagon to the local farmers’ markets and co-ops. He quickly gained the trust of produce markets around the state through exhibiting a steadfast motivation and passion for delivering high quality, Vermont grown fruit.

 

photo credit: S.P. Reid

Today, Champlain Orchards manages over 220 acres of fruit trees that includes over 100 varieties of apples as well as peaches, pears, plums, cherries, nectarines, and berries. Their fruit is ecologically grown and third-party certified by the IPM Institute. Eight acres are certified Organic by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) and the farm is 100% electrically solar-powered, with Solar Orchard #3 in the planning stages.

 

Additionally, Champlain Orchards runs a cidery. Every single apple in their Vermont Hard Cider is pressed, fermented, and crafted at their orchard. This makes for a quality, local product that is fresh, crisp and deliciously drinkable. Their cidery offers original Vermont hard cider, Mac & Maple, Heirloom, Honeycrisp, Cranberry, Pruner’s pride, Ginger & Spice, Asian Pear, Honey plum, Pruner’s Promise, Sparkling Ice, Peach, Hopped Native, and Ice cider. Be sure to visit their tasting room!

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Champlain Orchards’ mission is to grow a wide variety of delicious ecologically grown tree fruit while respecting the land, supporting our communities and surpassing customers’ expectations.

Values

Champlain Orchards welcomes the opportunity and challenge to grow unique apple, pear and stone fruit while providing an environment for people to grow personally and professionally.  We strive to be leaders in our industry and community with innovative practices and products.

Vision

Champlain Orchards’ vision is to build a legacy as the premier ecologically managed orchard in the Northeast United States by being led by multigenerational management and staff through careful long term planning.  Our sights are set on being the model for providing wholesome fruit, ciders, and other products, using sustainable growing practices and renewable energy.

Growing Practices

So what does ecologically-managed mean? Great question!

Eco Apple Certification is third-party verified by the Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America, an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization which supports and monitors low-input pest management. The IPM approach includes thorough training and inspection of certified farms, who use the most eco-sensitive, minimally-treated, natural methods possible to grow our fruit. For example, instead of extensive spraying, we use wood chips from pruned branches as mulch around the trunks of our trees in order to increase plant health, which in turn helps the trees ward off illness. Damaging pests are managed through the introduction of natural predators, mating disruption, and trapping, rather than pesticides – this ultimately keeps our trees, staff, and you safe. To learn more, please visit the IPM’s website, or give us a shoutout!

 

Spotlight on Stonewood Farm

Are you enjoying Eat Local Month as much as we are? The abundance of beautiful local produce this time of year makes us feel so lucky to live where we do. But, eating local isn’t just about fruits & veggies. Where would we be without our local meat producers? This week, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Stonewood Farm of Orwell, VT. They provide big, beautiful turkeys for our Thanksgiving tables, and keep us stocked in ground turkey and turkey breasts year-round. They’re featured in our Member Deals Spotlight from September 5th – 11th and all of their products are 20% off for member-owners. Read on to learn more about this fantastic farm that is all about raising turkeys the natural way:

Established in 1976 by Paul & Francis Stone, Stonewood Farm has been a family-owned and operated farm ever since and is now run by Peter Stone & Siegrid Mertens. Here are the rules of raising natural turkeys at their farm:

  • The turkey-friendly barns are uncrowded and open-sided providing lots of fresh air and natural sunlight
  • The turkeys are raised without hormones, antibiotics, or animal by-products added to their feed
  • There are no added preservatives or artificial ingredients
  • Humane Care at our farm means plenty of Vermont air, cold nights, good feed, and tender loving care
  • The turkeys are intentionally grown slowly. This ensures a delicious and naturally self-basting turkey, which lends a superior flavor and juiciness that Stonewood Farm turkey is known for
  • To ensure a humane harvest, we have an on-site USDA-approved processing plant that is operated by our family. All turkeys are individually hand graded to ensure the highest quality

 

Co-op Connection Featured Business – Main Street Stationery

Next time you find yourself in need of a new stash of your favorite stationery or office supplies, we invite you to keep it local with Main Street Stationery! This anchor of Middlebury’s Main Street offers a complete line of office supplies, greeting cards, gifts, art supplies, full-color copy services and fax services. As an authorized FedEx agent, they can also assist you with your shipping needs. They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business this month, so we’re reminding member-owners to flash their Co-op Card next time they visit Main Street Stationery in exchange for a 10% discount!

To get the scoop on the rich history of this Middlebury landmark, I reached out to owner Greg Tomb for a little Q & A:

Co-op: Hi Greg! How long have you been in the stationery and office supply business?

Greg:  I purchased Main Street Stationery from the previous owner, Chris Sheldon, in 1986. However, the store had been around for more than a decade at that point under various owners and in various locations. My associate, Paula, can tell you more about the history of the store, as she has been a part of the business since May of 1974.

Paula: The business was founded in 1972 by Rachel & Greg Cotting under the name “Middlebury Office Supply”. It was located on Merchant’s Row in one of the shop locations under the Town Hall Theater. The ownership of the store changed hands a few times – first to Bob Whittamore, then to Chal Schley, next to Chris Sheldon, and finally to Greg Tomb. The store has always lived in the heart of Middlebury’s downtown but in various locations. It moved from Merchant’s Row to Main Street sometime in the early 1970s into the space currently occupied by Middlebury Mountaineer. It was much more recently that Main Street Stationery found it’s current home at 40 Main Street.  

Co-op: What is your favorite thing about being in this line of work?

Greg:  I enjoy dealing with people. We have a lot of loyal local customers and I enjoy getting to know them and learning how best to meet their needs. Being in this business since the mid-’80s, I feel like I’ve been able to experience a slice of Middlebury culture pass before my eyes. I also enjoy meeting out of town visitors to our community and find that they are often overwhelmed with nostalgia when they visit our store. There aren’t many stores like ours that have survived the test of time and visitors often comment on how much they miss visiting their neighborhood stationery store. I like being able to provide a trip down memory lane for these folks.

Co-op:  What are the biggest changes have you experienced over the years of owning and operating Main Street Stationery?

Greg:  So much has changed! When I first purchased the business, there were no big box stores like Staples or online retailers like Amazon. When people needed office supplies, they visited their neighborhood stationery store. There have also been tremendous changes in technology since I first acquired the business. Adapting and remaining relevant in the face of these changes has been a great challenge. We’re grateful to have such steadfast support from our local community and would like to say thank you to the folks who choose to support a small local business like ours!

 

 

Join Our September Eat Local Challenge!

Perhaps you’ve been wondering why we have a gigantic wooden ear of corn at the store entry? We call it the Big Corn and it comes out every September during our Eat Local Challenge to help us track the amount of money paid to local farmers and producers throughout the month. Last year, thanks to your purchases of local products, we were able to pay over $394,000 to our local farmers and producers! Help us shatter that record this year by purchasing Vermont products all month long. You can track the progress on the Big Corn and help us reach our goal of $415,000 this year!  And guess what?  Buying local might just win you even more than a kitchen full of delicious Vermont products.  Read on to find out how your local purchases could add up to winnings:

Want to BUY LOCAL at THE CO-OP?  Look for these signs:

Why Buy Local?

1. Local Food Supports Local Farm Families.

Farmers are a vanishing breed, and it’s no surprise given that commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. When you purchase local produce from the Co-op, the farmer gets a larger share, which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.

2. Local Food Supports our Local Economy.

Over 60,000 Vermonters are directly employed in Vermont’s food system. Nearly 12,000 businesses are part of Vermont’s food system. When measured by employment and gross state product, food manufacturing is the second-largest manufacturing industry in Vermont.   Milk from Vermont’s dairy farms typically accounts for upwards of 70% of the state’s agricultural products sales, generating $2.2 billion in economic activity annually. A wide range of nondairy farms of all sizes also produces fruits and vegetables, livestock, hay, maple products, and specialty crops for local and regional markets. Vermont’s dynamic and evolving food system is also made up of entrepreneurs creating a variety of value-added products (e.g., cured meats, baked goods, beer, chocolate); thousands of market outlets; sophisticated distribution networks; and dozens of organizations, programs, and volunteer-driven activities that provide business planning, technical assistance, education, and outreach activities.

3. Local Food Builds Community.

When you buy local produce, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons and the miracle of raising food. In many cases, it gives you access to a farm where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture. Relationships built on understanding and trust can thrive.

4. Local Food Preserves Open Space.

As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you’re doing something proactive about preserving the agrarian landscape.

5. Local Food Keeps Your Taxes In Check.

Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes. On average, for every $1 in
revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue
raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend only 34 cents on services.

6. Local Food Supports a Clean Environment and Benefits Wildlife.

A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage could sequester 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry. In addition, the habitat of a farm – the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds, and buildings – is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife, including bluebirds, killdeer, herons, bats, and rabbits.

7. Local Food Preserves Genetic Diversity.

In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, tend to opt for more variety to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation because they taste good and are regionally adapted to our unique growing conditions here in Vermont. These heirloom varieties contain genetic material from hundreds or even thousands of years of human selection; they may someday provide the genes needed to create varieties that will thrive in a changing climate.

8. Locally grown food tastes better.

Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from
California, Florida, Chile, or Holland is, quite understandably, much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.

9. Local Produce is Better For You. 

Studies show that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some ‘fresh’ produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.

10. Local Food Is About The Future.

By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.

Localvore Lasagna

As we kick off the September Eat Local Challenge, we wanted to share one of our favorite recipes highlighting a list of fantastic local ingredients. There’s already so much to love about lasagna but when you include Bove’s marinara, Vermont Fresh pasta sheets,  Maplebrook Farm’s ricotta, and Cabot’s mozzarella cheese, this classic comfort food reaches new heights! These ingredients are also featured in our weekly sale from September 5th – 11th,  so it’s a great time to give it a try.

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