Organic

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% off of their abundant array of local, organic veggies and their glorious fresh-cut bouquets from September 17th – 23rd! Read on to learn more about this wonderful farm and the fine folks who work tirelessly to make it such a special place:

Golden Russet Farm logo

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 great recipes and tips on using plants as natural dyes!

Spotlight on Aqua ViTea

This week’s  Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Aqua ViTea! All of their non-alcoholic Kombucha is 20% off for member-owners from September 3rd – 9th! 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 Naturopathy, 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.

Mike Kin creates the signature Freshketch artwork for Aqua ViTea

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!

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. 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.

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on New Leaf Organics

We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on New Leaf Organics! This local, organic farm not only keeps our produce shelves stocked with an array of fresh seasonal veggies but also supplies us with an abundant array of veggie and herb seedlings each Spring. Perhaps you have a few of them growing in your garden? All of New Leaf Organics products are 20% off for Co-op member-owners from August 6th – 12th, so it’s a great time to stock up on the flavors of summer in Vermont. Read on to learn more about this female-powered farm and all that they have to offer:

Nestled in the rolling hills near the Bristol-Monkton town line is a sweet little farm called New Leaf Organics. Now in her 20th 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.

New Leaf Organics grows 5 acres of vegetables, berries, and flowers which are all sold in Vermont. You can shop their online store and/or visit their farmstand. Their online store offers curbside pickup and delivery options. Farmstand hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 12 pm – 6 pm and they offer extended hours during planting season (May 2nd – June 14th) 10 am – 3pm. While visiting the farmstand, you’ll find  New Leaf’s fresh-picked veggies, berries, and flowers. You’ll also find a great selection of locally sourced products from around the Champlain Valley. New to the farmstand are delicious grab-and-go vegetarian meals from Blossom Kitchen and Catering in eco-friendly reusable containers you can keep or return for a deposit.

New Leaf Organics Farmstand

You can also sign up for their fruit & veggie CSA. Joining the CSA is a great way to eat the freshest, highest quality, locally grown, organic food without breaking the bank. They have many unique CSA options, so be sure to check out their web page to scan the offerings. 

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! They also offer a pick-your-own flowers option throughout the growing season. The flower fields are located across the street from the farm stand. 

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!”

For the latest info and insight into how the season is sprouting, blooming, and unfurling, follow them on Instagram @organicsnewleaf and Facebook @newleaforganics

Spotlight on New Leaf Organics

We’re shining our Member Deals Spotlight on New Leaf Organics! This local, organic farm not only keeps our produce shelves stocked with an array of fresh seasonal veggies but also supplies us with an abundant array of veggie and herb seedlings each Spring. Perhaps you have a few of them growing in your garden? All of New Leaf Organics products are 20% off for Co-op member-owners from August 6th – 12th, so it’s a great time to stock up on the flavors of summer in Vermont. Read on to learn more about this female-powered farm and all that they have to offer:

Nestled in the rolling hills near the Bristol-Monkton town line is a sweet little farm called New Leaf Organics. Now in her 20th 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.

New Leaf Organics grows 5 acres of vegetables, berries, and flowers which are all sold in Vermont. You can shop their online store and/or visit their farmstand. Their online store offers curbside pickup and delivery options. Farmstand hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 12 pm – 6 pm and they offer extended hours during planting season (May 2nd – June 14th) 10 am – 3pm. While visiting the farmstand, you’ll find  New Leaf’s fresh-picked veggies, berries, and flowers. You’ll also find a great selection of locally sourced products from around the Champlain Valley. New to the farmstand are delicious grab-and-go vegetarian meals from Blossom Kitchen and Catering in eco-friendly reusable containers you can keep or return for a deposit.

New Leaf Organics Farmstand

You can also sign up for their fruit & veggie CSA. Joining the CSA is a great way to eat the freshest, highest quality, locally grown, organic food without breaking the bank. They have many unique CSA options, so be sure to check out their web page to scan the offerings. 

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! They also offer a pick-your-own flowers option throughout the growing season. The flower fields are located across the street from the farm stand. 

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!”

For the latest info and insight into how the season is sprouting, blooming, and unfurling, follow them on Instagram @organicsnewleaf and Facebook @newleaforganics

Spotlight on New Leaf Organics

Garden planting season is in full swing and we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on New Leaf Organics, who not only keeps our produce shelves stocked with an abundant array of seasonal fruits and veggies but also allows us to offer a stunning variety of locally-grown veggie and herb seedlings for gardeners in the spring!  New this season – their seedlings are available for online order! They want to make growing your own food as easy as possible right now! These herb and veggie seedlings are available for pre-order and pre-packing for your health and convenience. 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 20th 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.

New Leaf Organics grows 5 acres of vegetables, berries, and flowers which are all sold in Vermont. You can shop their online store and/or visit their farmstand. Their online store offers curbside pickup and delivery options. Farmstand hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 12 pm – 6 pm and they offer extended hours during planting season (May 2nd – June 14th) 10 am – 3pm. While visiting the farmstand, you’ll find  New Leaf’s fresh-picked veggies, berries, and flowers and you will also find locally sourced products from around the Champlain Valley. New to the farmstand are delicious grab-and-go vegetarian meals from Blossom Kitchen and Catering in eco-friendly reusable containers you can keep or return for a deposit.

New Leaf Organics Farmstand

You can also sign up for their fruit & veggie CSA. Joining the CSA is a great way to eat the freshest, highest quality, locally grown, organic food without breaking the bank. They have many unique CSA options, so be sure to check out their web page to scan the offerings. 

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! They also offer a pick-your-own flowers option throughout the growing season. The flower fields are located across the street from the farm stand. 

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!”

For the latest info and insight into how the season is sprouting, blooming, and unfurling, follow them on Instagram @organicsnewleaf and Facebook @newleaforganics

Jill and Karey at the Farmstand

Co-op Connection Featured Business – Juice Amour

We’re excited to shine a little light on a local favorite – Juice Amour! They’re our featured Co-op Connection Business this month and they have a sweet deal for Co-op member-owners. Show your member card when you visit Juice Amour’s Middlebury location and you’ll receive 10% off their full line of organic, raw, fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, chia pudding bowls, sprouted nut milk, and other healthy, seasonal lunch and dinner offerings! Read on to learn more about one of Middlebury’s best stops for fresh, healthy foods on the go!

 

Juice Amour is owned and operated by Sheri Bedard and her father David Bedard. It was the love and strong belief in the many health benefits of drinking fresh juice that started Juice Amour on it’s path to your backyard.

They wake up early to produce local, raw, organic juice and products on-site every day. According to Sheri, “Every day we wake up passionate in our belief that healthful food should be accessible, taste delicious, look beautiful, help you feel amazing and have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. Every decision we make here is with those philosophies in mind but (lucky for you) all YOU have to do is enjoy the deliciousness that comes from those efforts.”

 

Keeping it Local

Getting as much produce from our local organic farmers is a core principle of the companies mission to make a minimal impact on the earth while supporting local farmers. They view their support of local organic farmers as an essential step toward minimizing the global impact of their business as well as providing support and income for their neighbors. As often as possible all juice ingredients will be sourced locally.

Glass and the “Milk Bottle” Concept

To maximize health benefits for you and minimize the impact on our planet they avoid the use of plastic and recycle and reuse the glass jars their juice is delivered in. They ask customers to return their jars and lids to the location they picked up their juices where they are commercially washed and reused again and again. This reduces the cost to their clients while minimizing any negative impact of drinking out of plastic as well as maximizing benefits to the community and planet.

Commitment to Organic

Juice Amour is also committed to supporting organic. Organic farming employs methods that minimize the use of toxins while building soil quality and protecting water quality. Additionally, buying organic supports chemical and pesticide-free practices that are healthier for our farmers and for our planet. Lastly, they also feel that organic foods have more intense and delicious flavors – no wonder their juice is so delicious!

Abundant Offerings

In addition to a bounty of fresh organic, raw fruit and veggies juice options, Juice Amour also offers raw, sprouted nut milks; guilt-free raw smoothies; gluten and dairy-free soups; chia pudding; acai, dragon fruit & cashew cream bowls & jars; and other seasonal, organic and raw lunch and dinner options. Click HERE to browse their menu.

Their juice cleanses are extremely popular and are a great way to introduce people to juicing while enjoying incredible benefits, ranging from weight loss to improved health. They also know that the true benefit to juicing is accomplished when it is done regularly so they are constantly adding new juices and products to keep things new and fresh.

Sheri and the Juice Amour crew are proud to be based in Middlebury, Vermont, with additional locations in Burlington and St. Albans!

 

Spotlight on Butterworks Farm

Butterworks Farm is basking in the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their local, organic, grass-fed dairy products are 20% off for member-owners from March 26th – April 1st. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over forty–six years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sinking, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne). As long-time sustainable farmers and leaders in organic farming, they continue to play an important role in the dynamics and operations at Butterworks and beyond. Jack is a writer and frequent inspirational keynote speaker at organic farming conferences everywhere. He enjoys food, friends and pursuing his passions- sustainability and soil science. Anne keeps Jack and the farm running as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire team. She enjoys gardening, keeping chickens and ducks, the study of homeopathic medicine and upholds the homesteading spirit she and Jack started with 40 years ago. Their daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks and now has a family of her own. A deep love for the team, the farm, the animals, the products and the mountains keep her inspired as she and her family carry on the rich farming traditions that her parents began.

Their cows are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. They choose Jerseys for their ability to produce milk on a  100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are available to the cows always in the lush, rotationally grazed pastures of summer and the sweet hay in the winter solar barn.

Their farming methods have evolved over the years. For the first forty years, they were grain growers and hay producers. Cereal crops such as oats, wheat, and barley, along with row crops like corn and soy fit neatly into their crop rotations with grasses and legumes. From the straw for the animals bedding to the grain the cows ate, everything was grown on the farm. Over the years, as their soil health and fertility increased, the quality of their forages improved until they realized that they could likely reduce the amount of grain that was being fed to the cows. By 2016, they had phased out grains completely and became a 100% grass-fed dairy, rotating the cows on fresh pasture every twelve hours.  

 

Jack Lazor shared on the Butterwork’s Farm blog that, “our transition to 100% grass-fed is well worth it.  Despite the fact that we will need more land and sharpened management skills to do this, we are very happy to promote more grass and less grain (and subsequently less tillage) on the land that we steward.  More grass means more fibrous root systems in the soil.  Less grain means less tillage and better soil health.  Less tillage means less burning of fossil fuels and less disturbance to the delicate balance of microorganisms in our soils.

“Our primary goal in farming is to take more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and through photosynthesis, lock it up in the Earth’s crust as humus and organic matter.  Higher carbon levels in the soil are the number one weapon that we as humans have to reduce and eliminate the effects of a changing climate.  We are excited to be trying something challenging and new.  Our farming practices were already focused on mineralization and soil health which has built a vibrant farm organism.  Our switch to 100% grass-fed dairying is taking us to new levels.  It is incredibly hard work, but so much fun and what we are learning we want to share with others in the process.”

 

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 March 12th – 18th! Read on to learn more about this family-owned company and their commitment to socially and environmentally responsible practices for more than 80 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 80 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.

Lundberg Family Farms was founded on the belief of “leaving the land better than you found it.” This belief originated on the farm and helped them become a leader in organic farming. Over time, this belief has been integrated into all operations, from growing rice to producing products. Sustainability is written into every job description. It is part of everyday work on the farm and in their facilities.

Lundberg Family Farms has been a TRUE Zero Waste Certified facility since 2016 and diverts 99.6% of their waste from landfills.

As they grow and expand, they will continue to implement energy conservation and renewable energy, waste reduction and resource efficiency, safe and fair working conditions, along with many other practices that are environmentally and socially responsible. Lundberg partners with the Sustainable Food Trade Association (SFTA), One Step Closer to an Organic and Sustainable Community (OSC2), and the Climate Collaborative (CC) to help reduce their climate impacts as an organization.

In March 2020 Lundberg will be launching a new recycling program for their flexible plastic packaging! This program will accept 8-ounce wild rice bags, 12-pound rice bags, rice cakes bags, rice cake films, rice chips, ready to heat pouches and plastic film from their risotto meals! They are working hard to get the program ready for you. In the meantime, they recommend stockpiling all of your Lundberg packaging so you can begin recycling on day one!! Click HERE to learn more about how this will work.

Celebrating our Interdependence – NOFA-VT Winter Conference Recap

The NOFA-Vermont Winter Conference is an annual event to celebrate the efforts and mission of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont. NOFA-VT was founded in 1971 as one of the first organic farming associations in the United States. The organization has grown to have over 1200 state-wide members and certify over 720 farms and processors in Vermont to the USDA National Organic Program Standards. 

The mission of NOFA-VT is to “promote organic practices so as to build an economically viable, ecologically sound, and socially just Vermont agricultural system that benefits all living things.” This focus on environmental and social sustainability and of creating community through learning and sharing dovetails with the mission and values of the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. We’re all in this together!

Over three days, exhibitors, presenters, and attendees converge for a weekend of connection, learning, and inspiration. This year’s conference theme was ‘Celebrating Our Interdependence,’ and sought to focus on how relationships and connections can help build a stronger, more resilient food and social system. 

I attended the conference on Sunday and was thrilled by the opportunity to connect and learn! The first stop was at the Exhibitors fair, where farmers, seed companies, book publishers, and other local organizations offered books, tools, food and drink samples, and crafts for sale, along with information and materials from agricultural businesses and conference sponsors.

Exhibitors Fair

The first workshop I attended was a presentation on ‘no-till’ farming methods led by Bryan O’Hara of Tobacco Road Farm. He told the story of his farm and how after about ten years of using fairly typical methods in organic annual market gardening, crops started to do less well, succumbing to pests and diseases. He observed how the health of the plants was directly connected to the complex web of life in the soil. He also made the connection that the health of the plants relates to their nutritional value – and flavor! – when we eat them. After those revelations, Bryan decided to convert his farm to ‘no-till’, adjusting his methods so as to not disturb the natural balance of the soil ecosystem. Working with nature, rather than fighting it!

No-till Vegetable System at Tobacco Road Farm (Source: https://smallfarmersjournal.com)

Right before lunch there also featured a panel discussion on “weaving a new narrative” and how agriculture can be a catalyst for culture change. Panel members included an educator of Native American culture linking seeds with culture and history through stories and practice; a member of a co-operative farm with revolutionary ideas that has created a family of co-owners and co-workers to create a co-operative vision; a traditional Vermont family dairy owner in transition and partnership with a new generation of young organic farmers; and a husband and wife duo practicing ecology, observation, learning, and fascination with the natural world on a dynamic perennial food forest in Jeffersonville, VT. 

Weaving a New Narrative Panel Discussion

This panel participated in a discussion that sought to explore the ways we can use imagination and connectivity to create change in the wider world through the ways we relate to the food we consume every day. Particularly interesting was the idea of the momentum of existing structures in society to perpetuate themselves, and the hope that by promoting new narratives the foundation for change can be created. The last question posed to the panel members was one worth pondering: “What would you tell someone in 2100 you did to help create a positive change in the years since 2020?” One of my favorite responses was from John Hayden who said his “grandkids would hopefully happily report that Grandpa helped people love the insects,” because by “loving, appreciating, and respecting the insects, it might spill over to loving each other more too.” 

After browsing the Exhibitors’ Fair, chatting with the Young Farmers Coalition, and bagging up some seeds from the “seed-share” table, we walked to where NOFA had their mobile wood-fired oven roasting root vegetables. A wood-fired pizza oven on a trailer – how cool! And what a treat on a cold day!

NOFA-VT’s Mobile Pizza Oven

An afternoon workshop presented by Jim Ulager, author of Beginning Seed Saving for the Home Gardener, focused on seed-saving. Jim opened the workshop with a story of his Grandpa ‘Zeke’s’ tomatoes and how he was the only descendant with these Russian heirloom seeds, and that you couldn’t find them in seed catalogs. He also observed that by saving and growing these seeds (and enjoying the tomatoes the plants produced!) was a process completely independent of the larger economic system, a unique feat in this modern day-in-age. Throughout the workshop, we discussed specifics of how one can save seed from legumes and pumpkins and tomatoes, but we also explored the stories that seeds can tell and the philosophical links that seeds make between the gardener and the natural processes of the earth.  

source:https://www.instagram.com/axeandroothomestead/

After a long day or learning, connecting, exploring, and gaining inspiration, it was time to go home to tend to the sheep and chickens and dream of Spring!

Alex Arroyo is a member of our Produce Team who also runs a permaculture farm in North Ferrisburgh, VT

 

Chocolate Sauce

Step away from the chocolate syrup squeezy bottle! With just three ingredients and a few simple steps, you can take your Valentine’s Day breakfast or dessert to new heights. You’ll find Equal Exchange’s organic, fairtrade, co-op made chocolate chips featured in our weekly sale from February 6th – 12th, along with organic frozen strawberries, Cabot whipped cream, Nature’s Path waffles, and a handful of other ingredients designed to help you pull together an easy breakfast or dessert spread that will make your Valentine swoon!

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