Local

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.

 

 

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 keeping a strong focus on environmental stewardship. All Blue Ledge Farm cheeses will be 20% off for member-owners from June 6th – 12th!  Read on to learn more about their farm in Salisbury, VT and the steps they take to care for their land while also producing fabulous cheeses :

 

 

Blue Ledge Farm is a first generation, family owned and run goat 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.

They initially started milking four goats at Blue Ledge Farm and began processing cheese two years later. Today they milk over 100 goats twice daily and produce eleven types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to harder cheeses aged three months.

The 150 acres of Blue Ledge Farm consists of woods, hayland, pasture, and wetland. Recognizing the ecological value of the wetland ecosystem, they recently preserved the fifty acres of wetland on their farm through the Vermont Land Trust. Their 125 goats spend spring, summer, and fall days browsing in the woods, return to the barn for 4 pm milking, and lounge around in a grass pasture as evening sets. It’s no wonder that they recently became certified as an Animal Welfare Approved Farm!

Sustainable farming practices are a top priority at Blue Ledge Farm. They compost their bed-pack manure and apply it to their fields, thereby completing the nutrient cycle from grass to goat and back to grass. In 2008 they built an underground aging facility, or “cave” which is naturally cool and moist, conditions that the cheese likes, and being underground it takes 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 lower their impact on the environment. At the heart of their operation is the clean-burning EPA-Approved bio-mass furnace, which allows 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! 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!

On the Co-op shelves, look for Blue Ledge Farm’s goat’s milk cheeses, including La Luna, Crottina, Lake’s Edge, Riley’s Coat, and four varieties of fresh chèvre. You’ll also find a cheese called Riley’s 2 X 4, which is made with a blend of cow and goat’s milk. Additionally, be sure to try their cow’s milk cheeses, including Camembrie, Middlebury Blue, and their newest cheese – Richville! Which one is your favorite?

 

June is Dairy Month

Since 1937, Americans have been celebrating June as National Dairy Month. As we take this time to heartily celebrate our dairy farmers this month, it’s hard to avoid mention of the many challenges that dairy farmers in Vermont and across the country continue to face as they endure the fifth consecutive year of low farm-gate milk prices. This means that the price farmers are paid for the milk they produce is well below the cost of production. As a recent press release from Rural Vermont states, “our agricultural heartbeat is in threat, as is our farmland. With an average farmer age of 58 and consistently inadequate milk prices, the future for our dairy community, and its accompanying 80% of Vermont’s agricultural land is in jeopardy as it goes through a formative transition.” 

The Local Scene

Our local dairy farmers need our support now more than ever, though some recent developments give us reason to feel optimistic.  In April of 2019 over 50 Vermont dairy farmers and eaters gathered for a meeting geared toward developing strategies for viability. The overwhelming sentiment shared throughout the meeting was one of hope and gratitude for the local support they’re receiving. The six dairy farmers on the panel that day, along with many other conventional and organic dairy farmers in attendance, underscored the value of having strong local support. They recognized the need to provide ongoing education for the community about the impact of supporting local dairy. As George van Vlaanderen of Does’ Leap Farm in East Fairfield stated, “It’s contingent on us to educate friends and neighbors about where our food comes from and the impact of voting with your dollars. We can support a prosperous agricultural future by supporting our farmer neighbors today.” Amber Machia of Red Barn in HIghgate echoed his sentiments, reminding those in attendance that impact of spending food dollars locally extends well beyond the farms, affecting the multitude of other local businesses connected to local dairy farms, including feed supply stores, trucking companies, label and package makers, and distribution hubs.

Happy grass-fed cows at Butterworks Farm

National Support

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, played a key role in forging the 2018 Farm Bill’s dairy priorities and, as a result of his efforts, the Farm Bill dramatically expanded support for dairy producers, providing flexible, affordable coverage options through the new Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program. The goal of the Farm Bill is to benefit producers of all sizes, but offers up to five times more support for the smallest farms, as those farms tend to be hardest hit during times of crisis. This is particularly good news for Vermont dairy farmers, as most manage herds of less than 200 cattle, qualifying them as small dairies by national standards. Leahy, along with Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and others, penned a bipartisan letter in April asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to prioritize the implementation of the dairy provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill to help provide some much-needed relief to dairy farmers without delay. Leahy followed that up with an additional bipartisan letter on May 17th urging Perdue to increase trade war relief payments to a level that more accurately reflects the damages dairy farmers have faced, as the current trade mitigation program has failed to fairly compensate dairy farmers slammed by retaliatory tariffs. It sure is nice to have a local Senator fighting so hard for our farmers.

Milk with Dignity

A bright spot in local dairy news this year was the adoption of the Milk with Dignity program by local dairy giant Ben & Jerry’s. In a recent article in VT Digger, Marita Canedo, Migrant Justice staff member and event panelist representing the Milk with Dignity Program, reflected on Ben & Jerry’s adoption of the program as a human rights victory. “It took more than two years in a public campaign and 4 years in conversation. We had to have translators and it took a long time, but we finally had everyone at the same table. There are human rights in that ice cream.” The Milk with Dignity Program brings together farmers, farmworker, buyers, and consumers to ensure dignified working conditions in the dairy supply chain, asking the corporations making the most in the dairy industry to pay for a higher standard of human rights for workers.

This came as part of a larger Values-Led Dairy Vision adopted by Ben & Jerry’s, which specifies that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s in the manufacture of its products will be sourced from dairy farms which have:

  • Thriving and dignified livelihoods for farmers and farm workers
  • Exceptional animal welfare standards for cows
  • A flourishing ecosystem in which feed is grown ecologically, without the use of harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity
  • Farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil.

Ben & Jerry’s sources most of the milk and cream from members of the St. Albans Cooperative. 

Grass-fed Organic Dairy Offers Solutions

The US milk glut and the accompanying drop in dairy prices over the past few years have wielded a tough blow for conventional and organic dairy farmers alike, though organic and grass-fed dairy farms are still faring better than their conventional counterparts. Consumers are beginning to recognize the importance of supporting organic dairy production that utilizes traditional pasture-based systems of rotational grazing. Not only does this system of natural grazing aid the environment in terms of soil restoration, increased biodiversity, improved water quality, and flood mitigation – but it also it guarantees healthy lives for the animals, and they, in turn, produce meat and milk that is healthier for us than the grain-fed alternatives. Soil scientists have determined that grazing animals are critical to the process of building soil organic matter. According to Jean Paul Courtens of Roxbury Farm, who presented at the recent Real Organic Project Symposium at Dartmouth, a mere one-percent increase in the soil organic matter on the four billion acres that are used for agricultural production on our planet would allow for the sequestration of 102 billion tons of carbon dioxide. When raising livestock using managed rotational grazing, it is possible to sink more carbon than one is producing, making organic agricultural production an active part of the solution to the ongoing threat of climate change.  

Happy grass-fed cows at Larson Farm & Creamery

 

 

 

 

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 keeping a strong focus on environmental stewardship. All Blue Ledge Farm cheeses will be 20% off for member-owners from June 6th – 12th!  Read on to learn more about their farm in Salisbury, VT and the steps they take to care for their land while also producing fabulous cheeses :

 

 

Blue Ledge Farm is a first generation, family owned and run goat 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.

They initially started milking four goats at Blue Ledge Farm and began processing cheese two years later. Today they milk over 100 goats twice daily and produce eleven types of cheese, from very fresh to semi-aged bloomy rind cheeses, to harder cheeses aged three months.

The 150 acres of Blue Ledge Farm consists of woods, hayland, pasture, and wetland. Recognizing the ecological value of the wetland ecosystem, they recently preserved the fifty acres of wetland on their farm through the Vermont Land Trust. Their 125 goats spend spring, summer, and fall days browsing in the woods, return to the barn for 4 pm milking, and lounge around in a grass pasture as evening sets. It’s no wonder that they recently became certified as an Animal Welfare Approved Farm!

Sustainable farming practices are a top priority at Blue Ledge Farm. They compost their bed-pack manure and apply it to their fields, thereby completing the nutrient cycle from grass to goat and back to grass. In 2008 they built an underground aging facility, or “cave” which is naturally cool and moist, conditions that the cheese likes, and being underground it takes 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 lower their impact on the environment. At the heart of their operation is the clean-burning EPA-Approved bio-mass furnace, which allows 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! 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!

On the Co-op shelves, look for Blue Ledge Farm’s goat’s milk cheeses, including La Luna, Crottina, Lake’s Edge, Riley’s Coat, and four varieties of fresh chèvre. You’ll also find a cheese called Riley’s 2 X 4, which is made with a blend of cow and goat’s milk. Additionally, be sure to try their cow’s milk cheeses, including Camembrie, Middlebury Blue, and their newest cheese – Richville! Which one is your favorite?

 

Spotlight on McKenzie

This week’s Member Deals spotlight shines brightly on McKenzie. All McKenzie meats and cheeses are 20% off for member-owners from May 16th – 22nd. Read on to learn more about this Burlington-based company that’s been providing all-natural meats to our community for well over 100 years:

 

History

In 1885, John married his beloved Nellie an Irish farm girl. In 1898 they immigrated to rural Vermont to fulfill their dream of running their own farm. It flourished and included smokehouses for slow curing country hams. Nellie began giving hams as holiday gifts to neighboring farms. Word got out of their extraordinary quality and flavor. Soon the orders started coming and they never stopped.

Much has changed in this world, but some things are too good to change. Today, the McKenzie folks are still going to extraordinary measures to bring you the best meats made the old-fashioned way – based on John and Nellie’s farm methods for naturally hardwood smoking hams and using pure Vermont maple syrup for authentic flavor. They continue this tradition of bringing you authentic flavors with simple, wholesome food values. Attention to the little details served their family well back then, and that same integrity in their process and product continues to serve as their compass today.

The McKenzie Promise

At McKenzie, they believe in paying attention to all the little details, that meats and cheeses should be crafted with care, that every batch should be sourced from independent farms and trusted purveyors, and that a recipe with natural ingredients is always better than one with artificial ingredients or preservatives. To that end, here is there promise to you:

  • 100% natural
  • Raised without the use of antibiotics
  • No nitrates or nitrites
  • No growth hormones
  • Gluten-free
  • Sourced from independent farms

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Shaker Maple Farm

To celebrate sap season in Vermont, we’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on Shaker Maple Farm! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of maple syrup products from April 4th – 10th, so it’s a perfect time to stock up on local liquid gold!

Shaker Maple Farm is owned and operated by Steve and Leah Willsey of Starksboro, VT. They have been sugaring for over 30 years and currently boil from 26,500 taps. Many of these taps come from maple trees on their beautiful 300-acre farm in Starksboro and some taps reside on two neighboring properties from whom they buy sap. Last year they were excited to sign a new land lease, adding an additional 250 acres to their sugarbush!

The 2018 season yielded 11,000 gallons of syrup at Shaker Maple farm. The Willsey’s sell about half of their syrup wholesale and the other half is sold in bulk. You can find their syrup at a variety of local grocery stores, co-ops and restaurants. You’ll also notice that their syrup is certified organic, which may lead you to wonder, “isn’t all maple syrup organic?”. The answer might surprise you! Organic certification ensures that:

  • No pesticides or chemicals were used to manage the forest. Like any crop, a forest can be sprayed to control insects. The same organic standards for field crops apply to maple forest to regulate things like buffer zones and runoff and ensure that no fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals were used.
  • A healthy forest is maintained. Organic standards limit the number of taps allowed in each tree to sustain the health of the tree. Organic certification ensures sustainable management of forestland to promote tree health, biodiversity, and reduce erosion.
  • No lead, filtering agents, or chemical defoamers. Certified organic maple farms must adhere to strict regulation when it comes to things like lead in equipment and the use of filtering agents and chemical defoamers.

 

Spotlight on Kimball Brook Farm

Our Co-op Spotlight is shining brightly on Kimball Brook Farm! Their full line of products is 20% off for member-owners from March 28th – April 3rd. Read on to learn more about one of Vermont’s finest family-owned organic dairy farms:

History

Kimball Brook Farm was first settled by Daniel Kimball in the late 1700s. Daniel and his sons continued running the farm until it was purchased by Edward Danyow in 1960.

The DeVos family purchased the farm in 1967 and on June 1, 1968, John De Vos Sr. and his son John De Vos Jr. moved their complete herd (50 cows), machinery and households from Monroe, New York to the Kimball Brook farm in North Ferrisburgh, Vermont.

John De Vos Jr. and his wife Sue operated the farm for over 30 years raising three sons and one daughter on the farm. The eldest son, John De Vos III (JD) and his wife Cheryl took over the business in 2001, expanding the herd from 80 cows to 200 and added a milking parlor.

In 2003, JD and Cheryl began transitioning the 220 cow farm to an organic operation and  Kimball Brook Farm became one of the largest certified organic dairy operations in the State of Vermont. The first shipment of organic milk was in September 2005. In 2010, they began the process of pursuing another dream of opening their own creamery in the former Saputo Cheese plant in Hinesburg. This would allow them to assemble, bottle, and package all of their own products. In June of 2011, they were awarded the VT Dairy Farm of the Year award and by May of 2012, they were celebrating the official opening of Green Mountain Organic Creamery.

At the Co-op, you can find a broad selection of Kimball Brook Farm’s organic products including Whole Milk, Cream, Chocolate Milk, Maple Milk, Mocha & Coffee Flavored Iced Cappuccino, Butter and Iced Teas. Also be sure to check out their newest additions to the lineup: Maple Lemonade, Strawberry Ginger Lemonade, and a line of teas and lemonades with CBD!

 

The Herd

The herd at Kimball Brook Farm consists of Holsteins, Jerseys and Jersey/Holstein crosses. During the growing season, their cows and heifers(teenagers) can be found happily grazing on the lush grasses their pastures provide. The cows that are being actively milked also get some mixed legumes and grains at the barn to provide them with the extra energy they need to produce rich, organic milk.

The Devos family believes that by maintaining the health of the land and the health of the cows, they can provide fantastic organic milk free of Growth Hormones, GMO’s, Pesticides, Herbicides and Antibiotics for consumers to enjoy.

Check out this fun video showing how Kimball Brook Farm milk gets from the cow to your kitchen table:

 

 

A polyculture of corn & sunflowers grown as food for the herd at KBF

Spotlight on Klinger’s Bread Company

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Klinger’s Bread Company! From March 14th – 20th, member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of local fresh-baked artisan breads! Read on to learn more about this Burlington-based bakery and their time-honored baking traditions:

 

Rustic, Healthy, Hearty, Crusty, Chewy, Flavorful…
Just a few words overheard to describe the artisan breads of Klinger’s. Their hearth-baked breads were proudly brought to Vermont in 1993 by the Klingebiel families of Williston, Vermont and Salem, New York.

These flavorful, authentic European breads were developed by one of America’s premier artisan bakers. Their bakers have been thoroughly trained in the methods and subtleties of bread baking. The breads are made from starters which are allowed to develop over a thirty-hour period. Visit the bakery and watch their bread crafters at work. Amidst floured tables, you will see them mix the finest ingredients, hand shape loaves, and bake them with care in their French brick oven.

Klinger’s is proud to bring you the rustic, homemade taste of their signature artisan breads. Their goal is to produce breads with character and integrity, to make your mouth water with the aroma of loaves fresh from the oven, and to share the products of their labor with you again and again.

Business of the Month: Middlebury Fitness

Are you looking to give your workout routine a spring makeover? We invite you to check out our Co-op Connection Business of the Month — Middlebury Fitness! Flash your Co-op member-owner card and you’ll receive 50% off the enrollment fee, 10% off a short-term membership, and your first class or workout is FREE! Better yet – during the month of March they’re completely waiving the enrollment fee for Co-op member-owners! Read on to learn more about what this community wellness center has to offer:

 

 

Middlebury Fitness is a community health and wellness center founded in 1997 that puts its members needs first. Their facility features a wide variety of the most current strength and cardio equipment by the leading brands in the industry. Is group fitness your thing? They offer a variety of programs and group fitness classes to meet the diverse and ever-changing needs of their member base, ranging from ages 13-93. Click here for their class calendar and descriptions. Other services and amenities include personal trainingfree equipment orientationsathletic performance trainingDietician consultationssaunasmassage therapy, and more!

The crew at Middlebury Fitness is incredibly proud to be so active in this great community and annually receive recognition and awards for various initiatives. For the past four consecutive years, they have received the United Way of Addison County’s “Partner Award” for an annual event that has raised $47,500 for our local friends and families in need. Wow!! They were the 2018 recipients of the prestigious BOB (Best of Business) award in the Health Club category by Vermont Business Magazine. 

At Middlebury Fitness they understand that you have options when it comes to your health and fitness needs. They aim to meet and exceed their members’ expectations every day and believe they have some of the most attentive, caring, professional and knowledgeable instructors, personal trainers and staff you will find. Their ultimate goal at Midd Fit is to ensure that each of their members achieves their personal fitness goals while experiencing exceptional customer service in a supportive atmosphere of fun and camaraderie.

If you are a current member, they’d like to extend a sincere THANK YOU for being a part of the Midd Fit family! If you are not yet a member, please visit and let Middlebury Fitness guide you through your fitness journey today! And don’t forget to mention that you’re a Co-op member-owner!

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