Spotlight on Kimball Brook Farm

Our Co-op Spotlight is shining brightly on Kimball Brook Farm! Their full line of products are 20% off for member-owners from March 8th – 14th. Read on to learn more about one of Vermont’s finest family-owned organic dairy farms:


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 addition to the lineup:  CBD Tea!

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 a 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:


Investing in Local Organic Dairy

You eat local and you drink local, but what about Investing local? Kimball Brook Farm has an offer for those looking to make a deeper commitment by investing in their organic dairy farm and creamery. This offer is for Vermont residents only. Click here to read more about it.

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

Spotlight on Red Hen Baking Company

Our Member Deals Spotlight is beaming on Red Hen Baking Company this week! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of freshly baked breads from February 15th – 21st. Read on to learn more about this wonderful local bakery that’s been turning out fresh organic bread 7 days a week for nearly 20 years!



The folks at Red Hen Baking Company are guided by a belief that pure, uncomplicated ingredients and the hands of skilled artisans are the building blocks for great food. Their bakery sprouted from humble beginnings with a staff of 8 on Route 100 in Duxbury, VT. They were committed to using organic ingredients since the very beginning and became an established presence in the area’s many cooperative and independent food stores. Their bread was beginning to appear at more and more of the area’s finest restaurants and they became mainstays of the Montpelier and Waitsfield Farmers’ Markets. To this day, these venues still make up the core of their wholesale business.

After 8 years of hard work in Duxbury and a seasoned staff that had grown to over 20 employees (many of whom are still with the bakery today), they had the opportunity to move 5 miles down the road to the neighboring town of Middlesex. It was here that they established their new baking facility in a building constructed especially for their purposes with an attached café in a renovated building that housed the former Camp Meade Diner.

Their café has become known as a local destination and gathering place where people can enjoy not only the breads they’re so well known or, but also their increasingly lauded pastries, sandwiches, and soups. To supplement their own creations, the cafe also features beer, wine, and specialty food from near and far. Next time you’re cruising through Middlesex, be sure to stop in!

Quality Commitment

Although Red Hen has grown considerably since those early days in Duxbury, they remain dedicated to creating the very best food from the best possible ingredients. You can’t make great food without great flour (or potatoes or seeds or meal, as the case may be), so a great deal of time and energy are spent sourcing the very best of these items. In many cases, they are closely acquainted with the farmers and millers that are responsible for producing the raw materials used for baking their breads. In fact, over 90% of all the flour they use comes from two farmers within 150 miles of the bakery. Each year, 430,000 lbs of local wheat go into their breads!

Farmer Ben Gleason of Gleason’s Grains delivering flour to the bakery.

They employ methods that are as old as bread making itself and these processes guide their days at the bakery. This method of slow fermentation produces a complexity of flavor, a chewy texture, helps the bread to keep longer, and even adds to its nutritive value. Each loaf is then formed by hand and baked in a hearth oven. The Red Hen family of breads runs the gamut from dense whole grain varieties to light and airy ciabatta and everything in between.

Giving Back

Like any good hen, the folks at Red Hen feel a responsibility to do what they can to nurture the community that has nurtured them. There is never a shortage of work to be done and there are so many good organizations doing that work, but each year their staff selects a few organizations that they would like to support. Last year they directed over $26,000 to the following organizations doing work both close to home and further afield:

To learn more about Red Hen Baking, check out their web page! You can view their cafe menu, read all about their diverse bread offerings, and find great tips for storing your bread to maximize freshness.



When it comes to making a great guacamole, it’s best to keep it simple and let the avocado shine. This recipe couldn’t be easier and it’s sure to please a crowd! It comes to us from the avocado experts at Equal Exchange Co-op. To learn more about the way they have radically transformed the avocado market to benefit small, organic farmers, click here.

An Avocado Revolution

This Superbowl season, the US will collectively consume over 150 million pounds of avocados. Holy guacamole! Thanks to a partnership between the Equal Exchange Cooperative and the PRAGOR Cooperative in Michoacan, Mexico, our Co-op is able to offer an alternative avocado: one grown sustainably and traded with integrity and trust. And from February 1st – 7th, they’ll be featured in our weekly sale at a great low price.

The region of Mexico the PRAGOR Cooperative calls home is known as “the avocado capital of the world.” However, powerful corporate interests have made it difficult for small-scale farmers to compete. In response, PRAGOR courageously organized and decided they would collectively control the entire process from growing to exporting.

PRAGOR is composed of 20 producer members who each own an average of 10 acres of land, all 100% organic. Many of the members transitioned to organic 10 or more yea0131rs ago, a revolutionary move at the time. On several of these farms reside the oldest Hass Avocado trees in the region, now 60 years old, still producing avocados. Through this co-op to co-op partnership, Equal Exchange is transforming the way that Mexican produce is grown and exported to the United States. Equal Exchange and their farmer partners are creating a trade model that respects small-scale farmers, builds communities, and supports the environment.

Despite the excitement each producer has for the future, a major challenge is finding trading partners who believe in their mission and will engage in the respectful and fair business relationship their members deserve. PRAGOR’s strength and perseverance is a lesson for anyone committed to working for change in the world.When you choose to buy Equal Exchange Avocados, you are casting a vote for courageous farmers who are making history for themselves, and quite possibly, for the entire avocado industry.  Here’s a snapshot of the impact:


Keeping the Soil in Organic

What comes to mind when you think of organically-grown produce? Does it conjure a pastoral scene with fields of fertile soil dotted with lush, healthy plants? What about hydroponic ‘vegetable factories’ and ‘vertical farms’ where production is hermetically sealed in huge warehouses filled with LED lights and nutrient pumps? Should industrial-scale hydroponic operations like these qualify for organic certification, or should fertile soil remain the non-negotiable foundation of organic farming?

The USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) has been granted the authority to make this decision, and in a series of narrow votes at a meeting in November 2017, they chose to allow the majority of these operators to remain a part of the organic program. This decision dealt a disappointing blow to many long-time organic farmers and organic farming advocates who had been working tirelessly to protect the integrity of the organic label. On one side of the argument is a multimillion-dollar hydroponic industry with powerful lobbyists. The global hydroponic market is projected to hit $490 million by 2023. In the United States, approximately 100 hydroponic operations are already certified organic including berry giant, Driscoll’s. On the other side of the debate are organic farming pioneers who are now mourning what they see as the devaluation of the organic brand they fought for decades to establish.

Dave Chapman, a longtime Vermont-based organic tomato farmer, along with a small army of other organic farmers and organic farming advocates, packed the room at the November 2017 NOSB meeting in a last-ditch effort to protect the integrity of the organic label. They organized dozens of rallies across the country leading up to the Jacksonville meeting and inspired a small army of organic advocates to champion the cause.


A Rally in the Valley

One such rally took place right here in Vermont in October of 2016 and was dubbed the Rally in the Valley. The rally drew over 250 people who shared the belief that all good farming begins with the soil, including over 100 organic farmers from Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania. Congressman Peter Welch,  Senator Patrick Leahy, and legendary organic farming expert Eliot Coleman were part of the lineup of elected officials and organic farming leaders who addressed the crowd that day, urging those in attendance to keep the pressure on the Department of Agriculture.


The US government is alone among developed countries in granting the much-desired “organic” label to hydroponic growers.  Hydroponic production is a soil-less process that has long been the norm in industrial-scale conventional greenhouse production. Now it is fast becoming the norm in organic certification for several major crops, such as tomatoes and berries. As Chapman points out, by changing the fertilizer brew in their mixing tanks to “natural” (but highly processed) soluble fertilizers, and then switching to “approved” pesticides, the industrial-scale hydroponic producers can miraculously become “organic” overnight.

Experts say the explosive growth in hydroponic imports may force some organic farmers out of business in as little as five years. Farmers in Vermont are already feeling the impact of the influx of “fauxganic” produce and are seeing their wholesale orders reduced in favor of the cheaper hydroponically-grown produce. Local organic tomato farmers Mia & Freeman Allen of Mountainyard Farm in Ripton, VT were among those in attendance at the Rally in the Valley and are feeling the effects of this change. According to Mia, ” How confusing to learn that the “USDA Certified Organic” label no longer applies to only soil-grown produce.  We believe that the fundamental principle of organic agriculture is a healthy soil teeming with mycorrhizal life.”


Why Should Consumers Care?

First and foremost, this issue matters because we care deeply about our local organic farmers. They are an integral part of the fabric of this community and our rural economy is dependent upon their success. This decision is a direct threat to their livelihood. Another reason to care stems from the fact that the traditional organic system of agriculture not only reduces the use of certain fertilizers and pesticides but also contributes to the health of the soil and the rest of the environment, thanks, in part, to its ability to sequester carbon from atmospheric CO2. Organic philosophy is rooted in building soil fertility. When the USDA first established organic standards, they specified the tenets of organic farming to be as follows: “Soil is the source of life. Soil quality and balance are essential to the long-term future of agriculture. Healthy plants, animals and humans result from balanced, biologically-active soil.” It’s clear:  all of the benefits organic farming offers to health and climate begin with fertile soil.

According to Chapman, “Organic farming is based on enhancing and cultivating the wonderful balance of the biological systems in the soil. It isn’t just about replacing chemical fertilizers with “natural” fertilizers. What I care about is learning to work with these infinitely complex biological systems. I think there is such a beauty and grace to organic farming. After 35 years as an organic farmer, I still know very little. I have been to many organic farms, and to many hydroponic farms. I greatly prefer the organic farms. That is what I want to support. This is where I want to work. This is who I want to live next to. This is who I want to buy food from.”

What Can Consumers Do?

  • Vote with your food dollars by purchasing organic tomatoes and berries from local farmers. Although USDA’s National Organic Program has allowed hydroponic operations to be certified organic, Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) does not certify hydroponically grown produce.
  • Shop seasonally. When we buy fruits and vegetables in their appropriate seasons, we can buy them from local farmers and be certain about their growing practices.
  • Establish a demand for soil-grown organic produce.When buying organic produce that isn’t local, contact the growers and ask about their growing methods.
  • Join the Real Organic Project


A New Organic Label?

This winter, a growing group of farmers and eaters came together to form the Real Organic Project. The Real Organic Project will work to support real organic farming through a number of efforts, starting with the creation of a new “Add-On” label to represent real organic farming. It will use USDA certification as a base, but it will have a small number of critical additional requirements. These will differentiate it from the CAFOs, HYDROs, and import cheaters that are currently USDA certified.

This group grew out of several meetings of Vermont farmers who believed that the USDA label was no longer something that could represent them. That small group of Vermonters has grown quickly into a national group. This amazing group of organic advocates has gathered to build something new.

Standards Board – The Real Organic Project has a 15-member Standards Board (listed below), based on the model of the NOSB, but with much greater representation from the organic community. The 15 volunteers have a wealth of experience in both farming and regulation. There are 9 farmer members, as well as representatives from NGOs, stores, consumers, scientists, and certifiers.

The group includes 5 former NOSB members, as well as leading farmers and advocates from across the country. They will meet in March to set the first standards. They will continue to meet once a year after that to review and update. This first year there will be a pilot project with a small number of farms to test the certifying process and work out the details.

Advisory Board – There is also a distinguished Advisory Board that currently has 18 members, including 4 former NOSB members and 3 current NOSB members. It also includes many well known organic pioneers such as Eliot Coleman and Fred Kirschenmann.

Executive Board – And finally, there is an Executive Board of 5 people that includes one current NOSB member.

These boards will work together to reconnect and unite our community. Their intent is transformational. They will create a label that we can trust again.

We can only succeed with your support. Go to to become a member. Make a donation to help make this new label into a reality. We can reclaim the meaning of the organic label together!

Spotlight on Lundberg Family Farms

This week, the Co-op Spotlight shines brightly on Lundberg Family Farms!  Member-Owners can enjoy 20% off their entire line of rice, rice chips, rice cakes, and risottos from January 25th – 31st! Read on to learn more about this family-owned company and their commitment to socially and environmentally responsible practices for more than 75 years:

Since the company was first founded by Nebraska natives Albert & Frances Lundberg in 1937, Lundberg Family Farms has remained a family-owned and operated company committed to producing the finest quality rice and rice products for your family, while respecting and sustaining the earth. Today, over 75 years later, the third and fourth generations carry on the family heritage by using eco-positive farming methods that produce wholesome, healthful rice and rice products while improving and protecting the environment for generations to come.

Founder Albert Lundberg, a survivor of the dust bowl, understood the importance of caring for the soil. He recognized that the dust bowl resulted from poor soil management and short-sighted farming techniques. With this in mind, the Lundberg’s made a choice to avoid growing typical conventional rice.  Their Certified Organic and Eco-Farmed rice is grown with a concern for the environment. They treat the soil, air, and water as important resources, respecting the delicate balances of nature. They are a proud participant of the Non-GMO Project, and positioned their company as an early leader in organic farming, energy conservation, use of renewable energy, providing safe and fair working conditions, and many other environmentally responsible and socially responsible practices.

As a member of the Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA), Lundberg Family Farms signed a pledge committing to reporting the company’s annual performance in 11 action categories: organic & land use, distribution & sourcing, energy, climate change & emissions, water use & quality, solid waste reduction, packaging & marketing materials, labor, animal care, sustainability education, and governance & community engagement. Each year, Lundberg Family Farms audits their performance in these areas and publishes the findings in their annual SFTA Sustainability Report. Click HERE to view the report.

Spotlight on Bionaturae

Is there a delicious Italian dinner on your menu for the week? Be sure to check out Bionaturae! We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on Bionaturae from December 7th – 13th to shed a little light on this Italian-American partnership that has been bringing us a fine lineup of authentic organic Italian foods for over 20 years! All of their products are 20% off for member-owners this week, so it’s a great time to stock up on these staples. Read on to learn more about this company and their philosophy!


While majoring in Italian in college, Carla Bartolucci spent a year in Italy and met her husband, Rodolfo, who had a background in agriculture. In 1995, the two teamed up and enthusiastically created an organic selection of authentic Italian foods for the American & Canadian markets. Now, more than 20 years later,  Bionaturae has remained a family-oriented, privately owned company, with a heartfelt devotion to quality and tradition.

Carla & Rodolfo
Carla & Rodolfo

Bionaturæ (bee-oh-na-too-ray) roughly translates to mean “organic nature.” For the founders of the company, it means this and far more. It means the celebration of Old World tradition, of authentic Italian food and of family.

So what makes their products taste so great? A few things come to mind. Rather than the Teflon dies that most commercial pasta makers have turned to, Bionature uses the original bronze dies common to traditional authentic pasta making, resulting in a coarser pasta that holds sauce exceptionally well. Equally important is the slow drying methods they incorporate. Where most modern pastas are heat dried to speed the process, Bionaturae insists on using the more traditional method, which can take as long as 14 hours to dry the pasta and avoids cooking the wheat during the drying process.


According to Carla, “In Italy, we try to eat the foods that are the most seasonal, in their most natural form, with as little done to them as possible, and to eat a wide variety so that we are getting everything we need. The wisest thing, I feel, is to eat simply prepared, organic foods. It’s important to know where your food comes from.”

Here at our Co-op, you will find Bionaturae olive oil, balsamic vinegar, many different kinds of pasta (both packaged and in bulk), tomato products, fruit spreads, and nectars!


Do Food Co-operatives Have a Role in the Era of Big Organic?

Most of the grocery world from giants like Kroger and Walmart to community-owned food coops and privately held natural food stores are trying to anticipate and prepare for the effects of the Amazon purchase of Whole Foods Markets. The Amazon purchase is one of many examples of increasing centralization of the organic and natural food system that includes producers, distributors and especially retailers.

The Whole Foods purchase brought to mind a book I recently read titled Organizing Organic. The author, Michael A. Haedicke, recounts the history of organics in the food economy.  From my vantage point (I was born the same year Paul Keene started Walnut Acres one of the first commercial organic farms) many of the people interviewed for the book were familiar to me and several were Vermonters.  Haedicke believes that from its beginnings as a movement (to counter “conventional” agriculture) after World War II organic agriculture contained both a transformative sector and expansionary sector. The transformative sector held decentralization, social justice, and local control as core values. While the expansionary sector also held these values it also saw the expansion of organics to larger markets as key to a successful movement.  As I read Haedicke’s analysis, he suggests that organic food market expansion through consolidation, centralization, and efficiency has become the primary driver in the organic sector and transformation relegated to the sidelines.  Haedicke interviewed several administrators of large organic retailers. Consistently they expressed the rationale that bigger meant more organic food which created more organic farms. What could be bad about that?  Haedicke doesn’t come to any conclusion as to the good or bad coming from the primacy of expansionism. What I have seen is that big organic can cut some prices for consumers and get more product to more places. But I have questions: What are the social costs of consolidation and centralization? Can the consumer cooperative movement expand organic (and local) and retain the commitment to community?

Haedicke also came to the conclusion that consumer food cooperatives attempted to balance transformative values and expansionary competition better than any other sector of organics. Why did this happen? Many of the “third wave” (MNFC is one of them) of consumer cooperatives originated with the blossoming of the organic movement in the 1970’s. Their values mirrored the values of the transformative sector of organic agriculture. Another possible reason is in the very structure of consumer cooperatives. Consumer cooperatives are “enterprises owned by consumers and managed democratically which aim at fulfilling the needs and aspirations of their members. They operate within the market system, independently of the state, as a form of mutual aid, oriented toward service rather than pecuniary profit”. To me, the phrases “managed democratically” and “oriented to service” most clearly differentiates cooperative food stores from big organic retailers.

In today’s world of increasing “big” organic (either large corporations or the state as in China) and centralization of power, operating within the market system and at the same time being oriented to service rather than profit is a quite a challenge. Our member-owners, as those of most consumer cooperatives, have differing needs and aspirations.

How does a democratically managed cooperative integrate those needs and aspirations into a market economy business? One key way is by member/owner participation. Participation can be running for the Board of Directors of the cooperative or choosing to vote in the election for directors. It can take the form of voting for policy (as in the case of the MNFC member/owners voting in favor of patronage dividends two years ago).  It can be sharing viewpoints with Directors at a Board meeting or in community forums like our Co-op Conversations that predated the expansion. It can be putting suggestions in the suggestion box in the store or talking with friends and neighbors about co-op issues. It certainly can be shopping at the store as those everyday decisions affect the products we carry.

So my answer to the question “do food cooperatives have a role in the era of big organic” is rather a request. Continue to participate and we will all help to arrive at the answer.

Jay Leshinsky is a long-serving member of our Board of Directors

Spotlight on Badger

Our Co-op Spotlight is shining brightly on Badger this week. This small, family-owned, family-run, and family-friendly company nestled in the woods of Gilsum, New Hampshire is beyond worthy of the spotlight. They help define what it means to be a socially responsible, environmentally responsible, people-first kind of business. They are featured in our Member Deals program this week, so all of their fabulous body care products are 20% for member-owners from November 25th – 29th! Read on to learn about the ideals, principles, and practices that make their company worthy of such high praise!


Badger was born in 1995 when founder Bill Whyte was working as a carpenter in the cold New Hampshire winters and created an amazing balm that helped soothe and heal his cracked hands. The company has since grown to over 100 products and 60 employees but “Badger Bill” still runs the show as CEO, along with his wife Katie (COO), and their two daughters Emily (VP Sales & Marketing), and Rebecca (VP of Innovation and Sustainability).

Badger Bill and family

Quality Ingredients and Standards

Badger selects ingredients with great care, using only those that fit their rigorous natural standards for healthy agriculture, minimal processing, sustainable supply chain, and health-giving properties. Every ingredient they use is grown and processed with the highest degree of respect for protecting the environment, the workers and the natural properties of the plants. Nearly all of Badger’s products are made from 100% USDA Certified Organic food-grade ingredients and they utilize as many fair trade certified ingredients as possible. You can view their impressive growing and processing standards on their web page.

B Corp Status

In 2011, Badger became a certified B Corp. In 2015 they were recognized by the B Corp Best for the Environment list.  The list recognizes 116 businesses that earned an environmental score in the top 10% of more than 1,200 Certified B Corporations from over 120 industries on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company’s impact on its workers, community, and the environment.

Badger facility & ecology center
Badger facility & gardens

Employee Care

Badger also recently won the Connect 2016 Philosophy Award for their accommodating employee benefits and exemplary work environment. They aim to be supportive of the new parents in their extended work family while considering the well-being of all employees and productivity in the workplace. With this in mind, their Babies At Work program brings together a policy that is best for baby, parent, and business. Most short-term disability benefits regarding pregnancies end after just six weeks, leaving the parent to find childcare as he or she returns to the workplace. Badger’s policy allows the parent to bring the child to the workplace until a specified time: in most cases until the baby is six months old or begins crawling.

The Whole Badger Crew

This program makes breastfeeding easier and allows for the inherent health benefits for both mother and child: enhanced bonding, lessening of daycare costs and more financial stability, great social network and extended-family support for both parent and child, and an easier transition to off-site child care. Once children are ready for off-site care, they have the option of attending the Calendula Garden Children’s Center.  This option offers reasonably-priced, high quality, flexible childcare for children of Badger employees, as well as a limited number of children from the greater community. The center itself is located in the renovated house that was the former home to the Badger Company, a quarter of a mile down the road from the company’s current facility. Badger, in a sense, creates its own “village” to support both parent and child!

Calendula Garden Child Care Center
Calendula Garden Child Care Center

Another exemplary aspect of employee care is their free lunch program. This is a daily organic lunch served during a paid 30-minute break. Every day their fabulous cooks prepare a free, home-cooked lunch for all of the Badgers made from 100% organic and mostly local foods. During the summer months, much of the produce comes right from their Badger vegetable garden! Read more about Badger’s impressive employee benefits here.

Free organic lunch!
Free organic lunch!

Product Certifications

Badger believes that third-party certifications take the guesswork out of claims made on cosmetics and personal care items. This means that they adhere to the standards and guidelines of any third party agency certifying their products. Their products are certified organic by both the USDA and the NSF, many of the ingredients are Fair Trade certified, and all products are certified gluten-free and certified cruelty-free.


Check out this short video to hear from Badger Bill about the values that make his company unique:


Spotlight on Elmer Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Elmer Farm this week to celebrate this 90-acre organic farm and the farmers who bring it to life. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their glorious spread of organic vegetables from October 9th – 15th! Read on to learn more about the history and heritage of this farm, which has been providing food for this community since the early 1800’s!


Driving into East Middlebury on Route 116, it’s hard to miss the beautiful patch of flowers bordering the white farmhouse at the entryway to Elmer Farm. What you might not see from the road are the amazing fields of vegetables that are grown on this fertile, organic soil. Elmer Farm is a conserved 90-acre farm where Spencer & Jennifer Blackwell grow 25 acres of mixed vegetables, grains, and dry beans, all of which are certified organic. Annual inspections and certification by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) ensure that the crops are grown responsibly and safely without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.

The farm belonged to the Elmer family since the early 1800’s and has a long heritage of providing food for its community. The receding glaciers bestowed the farm with a wonderful mix of fertile soils and sandy loam, perfectly suited to growing vegetables and grains. Elmer Farm grows more than thirty-five different vegetables, an array of flowers and culinary herbs. This includes over 200 different varieties including many heirlooms.

Spencer and Jennifer Blackwell, along with their children, Angus, Ida, & Mabel and their hard-working crew of farmhands are proud to grow vegetables for their community, neighbors, and friends in Addison County. They value hard work and the agrarian quality of life. They are committed to our community through various farm-to-school efforts as well as gleaning for local food agencies. In fact, Spencer helped spearhead the Local Food Access Program at HOPE.

A number of years ago, representatives from HOPE, Middlebury College, ACORN,  and the local business community, along with several local farmers, including Spencer from Elmer Farm and Will Stevens of Golden Russet Farm, got together to discuss the possibility of increasing the amount of locally grown food offered at HOPE’s food shelf. This group recognized that Addison County farmers grow vast amounts of beautiful, healthy organic fruits and vegetables, which are often unavailable or too pricey to those who need it most. They also recognized that these farms often had excess produce available that would not be destined for retail markets, which could instead be diverted to the food shelf. Fast-forward to present day, and the idea hatched by this group has evolved into an incredibly successful program that is bringing thousands of pounds of healthy, local foods to those in our community who need it most while also diverting a lot of food from the waste stream.


At the Co-op, you can find Elmer Farm’s organic cabbage, red & yellow onions, butternut squash, baby bok choy, radishes, leeks, scallions, kale, chard, and their famous carrots! You can also subscribe to their CSA, where you will receive fresh vegetables, flowers, and herbs each week from mid-June through the end of October for a total of 20 weeks. Also be sure to check out the recipes on their web page!

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