Organic

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 5th – 11th, 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 21st year in business, Farmer Jill Koppel leads her rockstar all-female 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 farmstand pickup and delivery options. Farmstand hours are Tuesday-Saturday from 12 pm – 6 pm. 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 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 Nutiva

Nutiva is enjoying the glow of the Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their Organic, Fairtrade, and Non-GMO Verified goods are 20% off from July 29th – August 4th! Read on to learn more about their humble beginnings and their mission-driven business model:

The Nutiva story began in 1999 when founder John Ruloc began pursuing his passion to bring healthy hemp seed products to the market. The name for the company is even hemp-derived:  Nutiva — NUT of a cannabis satIVA. His very first product launch was hemp seed bars, followed in 2002 by organic, cold-pressed, minimally processed coconut oil products. They also now partner with 35,000 independent Ethiopian farmers to bring you high-quality organic avocado oil products. 

Nutiva founder John Roulac pictured with his very first product — Nutiva hemp seed bars.

Nutiva is proud to be a fierce advocate for the legalization of hemp-based products and the consumers’ right to pesticide-free, GMO-free foods. In 2003, they also began advocating for reform in the destructive palm oil industry, working with Natural Habitats and Palm Done Right to create a more equitable and sustainable supply chain for red palm oil, shortening, and hazelnut spreads. Every Nutiva product containing these ingredients is Fair for Life Certified, deforestation-free, wildlife-friendly, and Certified Organic. 

In 2015, Nutiva worked with Fair Trade USA to certify their coconut oil in the Philippines and, as a result of this partnership, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of Nutiva’s coconut products are deposited into a community-led fund that supports and empowers their growers’ communities. To date, this fund has raised over $450,000.

In 2020, Nutiva launched a zero-waste program through which 95% of its waste products are either reused or recycled in an effort to divert from the waste stream. For their efforts, they’ve earned a Gold Standard Certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council and prevented 1,674 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

One of their most recent projects aims to ensure that their products are free of residues from the toxic and ubiquitous herbicide glyphosate (also known as RoundUp). Nutiva’s chia seeds and avocado oils are the first to become Certified Glyphosate Residue Free by the third-party Detox Project, which shares Nutiva’s commitment to creating pesticide-free superfoods that are healthy for people and planet. Nutiva’s goal is to eventually have all of their products bear this certification. Their entire line is already Certified Organic and Non-GMO Verified.

Since Nutiva was formed in 1999, every product purchased has helped to raise over $5 million to advance sustainable agriculture and grow healthy communities through Nutiva’s various social impact programs.

  • Schoolyard Orchard Initiative – For 6 years, Common Vision and Nutiva have partnered to bring an orchard to every public school in Richmond, California. This Nutiva School Orchard Initiative is an unprecedented, city-wide achievement that has brought fresh, healthy, school-grown fruit to 28 schools, impacting over 13,000 students — 79.5% of who rely on free and reduced lunch.
  • 100,000 Seedlings – In partnership with the global nonprofit Grameen Foundation, Nutiva has donated and helped plant 100,000 coconut seedlings in the Phillippines to revitalize crops and replace trees destroyed by typhoons. These seedlings have since grown into productive, organic coconut trees which help to improve the livelihoods of their local smallholder farmer partners in the Phillippines.
  • Typhoon Relief – In late 2020, the Phillippines were ravaged by three successive typhoons, destroying homes and plantations and leaving many in their smallholder farmer communities at risk. Nutiva has worked diligently to provide labor, lumber, and other supplies to assist with cleanup and rebuilding efforts. 
  • Planting Justice – Transforming the food system one garden at a time, Planting Justice grows food, jobs, and community through urban permaculture and holistic re-entry programs for folks transitioning out of the prison system. Nutiva supports their pursuit of food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing — primarily through paid internships, compost production, and tree planting programs.
  • Kiss the Ground – Awakening millions of people to the climate solution that’s right beneath our feet, Kiss the Ground is a film bringing the story of regenerative ag to a global audience. As supporters of this film from its inception, Nutiva is proud to see Kiss the Ground educating viewers around the world about the ways that healthy soil and agroecological stewardship can provide solutions to the climate crisis.
  • Avo-Conscious – Nutiva’s avocado oil is nurturing farming communities, sustainable livelihoods, and soil regeneration. They’ve partnered with over 35,000 small farmers to grow organic avocados regeneratively in a polyculture with coffee trees. Through this project, they’ve offered tools and trainings to over 5,000 farmers, empowering their farming partners with the most relevant and up-to-date organic and regenerative avocado farming methods and business skills through in-field education. In 2020, 30 Ethiopian women began training in Nutiva’s avocado nursery program. Upon graduation in 2021, each will be capable of supplying 6000 seedlings per year.

To read more about these programs and an assessment of Nutvia’s environmental impact, be sure to check out their 2020 Social and Environmental Impact Report

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 July 1st – July 7th. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over 46 years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sequestration, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty-six years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne) and a desire to live “happily ever after as a couple of back-to-the-landers.” By 1979, the couple was selling yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw milk locally to a growing fan base. Over the next several decades, Jack and Anne continued to blaze new trail as leaders in organic farming, laying a firm foundation for the robust local food system whose fruits we’re lucky to enjoy today.

Along the way, Jack managed to find time to teach classes in organic agriculture at the University of Vermont, give frequent inspirational keynote addresses at organic farming conferences, fervently advocate for the adoption of organic practices, particularly within the dairy sector, and write a book called “The Organic Grain Grower” which Mother Earth News dubbed “the best resource we’ve seen for small-scale grain growers everywhere.” Jack was known for being an avid perpetual student as he and Anne exhaustively researched ways to farm with environmental stewardship at the forefront. 

In 2010, Jack was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spent seven years on dialysis for cancer-related kidney failure. Over that period of time, Anne kept Jack and the farm running, serving as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire Butterworks team. After a long and courageous fight, Jack lost his battle with cancer in November of 2020. Jack and Anne’s daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks Farm 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.

Jack & Anne Lazor

Anne and Jack Lazor were awarded NOFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and were the first organic farmers to be inducted into the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame. NOFA-VT was also proud to launch a soil health cohort program this year to honor the legacy and wisdom of Jack Lazor. This cohort will promote farmer-to-farmer education and relationship building in an effort to address both short-term mitigation strategies around soil health as well as long-term systems change. This cohort will prioritize farmers who are, or wish to become great educators and will continue to share what they learn with other farmers through mentorship or by hosting workshops in the future. In this way, the funds will continue to pay it forward and honor Jack’s legacy for years to come. Several Addison County farmers including Chad & Morgan Beckwith of Ice House Farm were honored as part of the inaugural class of soil stewards. To see the full list, click here.

 

The lucky cows of Butterworks Farm are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. Jerseys were chosen for their ability to produce exceptional milk on a 100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are always available to the cows 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 shared in a Butterwork’s Farm blog post 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.”

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 July 1st – July 7th. Read on to learn more about this local farm worked by three generations of the Lazor Family over 46 years to bring you high-quality products with a deep emphasis on regenerative practices that promote soil building, carbon sequestration, water retention, and biodiversity:

Over forty-six years ago, Jack and Anne Lazor came to Westfield, VT fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne) and a desire to live “happily ever after as a couple of back-to-the-landers.” By 1979, the couple was selling yogurt, cottage cheese, and raw milk locally to a growing fan base. Over the next several decades, Jack and Anne continued to blaze new trail as leaders in organic farming, laying a firm foundation for the robust local food system whose fruits we’re lucky to enjoy today.

Along the way, Jack managed to find time to teach classes in organic agriculture at the University of Vermont, give frequent inspirational keynote addresses at organic farming conferences, fervently advocate for the adoption of organic practices, particularly within the dairy sector, and write a book called “The Organic Grain Grower” which Mother Earth News dubbed “the best resource we’ve seen for small-scale grain growers everywhere.” Jack was known for being an avid perpetual student as he and Anne exhaustively researched ways to farm with environmental stewardship at the forefront. 

In 2010, Jack was diagnosed with prostate cancer and spent seven years on dialysis for cancer-related kidney failure. Over that period of time, Anne kept Jack and the farm running, serving as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire Butterworks team. After a long and courageous fight, Jack lost his battle with cancer in November of 2020. Jack and Anne’s daughter Christine Lazor grew up at Butterworks Farm 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.

Jack & Anne Lazor

Anne and Jack Lazor were awarded NOFA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and were the first organic farmers to be inducted into the Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame. NOFA-VT was also proud to launch a soil health cohort program this year to honor the legacy and wisdom of Jack Lazor. This cohort will promote farmer-to-farmer education and relationship building in an effort to address both short-term mitigation strategies around soil health as well as long-term systems change. This cohort will prioritize farmers who are, or wish to become great educators and will continue to share what they learn with other farmers through mentorship or by hosting workshops in the future. In this way, the funds will continue to pay it forward and honor Jack’s legacy for years to come. Several Addison County farmers including Chad & Morgan Beckwith of Ice House Farm were honored as part of the inaugural class of soil stewards. To see the full list, click here.

 

The lucky cows of Butterworks Farm are a herd of very friendly and sometimes precocious Jerseys. Each has her own name and stanchion in the barn during milking. Jerseys were chosen for their ability to produce exceptional milk on a 100% grass-fed diet. High fiber and mineral-rich grasses, legumes, and forages are always available to the cows 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 shared in a Butterwork’s Farm blog post 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.”

Spotlight on American Flatbread

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on a company with humble roots here in Vermont – American Flatbread! From May 27th – June 2nd, member-owners can enjoy 20% off American Flatbread’s products (applies only to frozen flatbreads here at the Co-op, not at their fabulous restaurants). Read on to learn more about the history and mission of this locally-born company:

 

George Schenk, the founder of American Flatbread, founded his business with a firm understanding that food is more than what’s on the plate, which he shares in “The Five Faces of Food” and his simple phrase, “food Remembers the acts of the hands and heart.”

“Food is important. What we eat and how it’s grown intimately affects our health and the well-being of the world,” says Schenk. He created American Flatbread based on the philosophy of food for the greater good, and the company remains committed to building upon that legacy.

American Flatbread was born in Waitsfield, Vermont, but demand for frozen flatbreads soon outgrew the humble kitchens of their flagship location. Rustic Crust, the company that now produces American Flatbread frozen pizzas, took over the reins and says that they’re proud that George entrusted them with his mission and they remain committed to upholding it. 

Headquartered in New Hampshire, Rustic Crust continues to work with fresh, all-natural ingredients to bring you the authentic flavor you’ve come to know and love. According to Rustic Crust CEO Brad Sterl, “Our two good-for-you pizza brands make their home in the beautiful New England countryside, and are made by real people and using real ingredients. American Flatbread frozen pizzas feature 100% organically grown wheat crusts and topped with fresh herbs, vegetables, and the finest of cheeses (no rBST growth hormone!). They’re all-natural, with no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and handcrafted from scratch and par-baked in wood-fired ovens.

Truly nutritious, light, crisp, and flavorful — convenience without compromise – American Flatbread pizzas are honestly delicious, the best premium frozen pizza bar none, for people who care about pizza and the planet.

 

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 May 20th – 26th. Read on to learn more about this wonderful local bakery that’s been turning out fresh organic bread 7 days a week for over 20 years!

 

History

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 back in 1999. 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 for, 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! To keep the community safe during the pandemic, they’ve created a service window that is open daily from 7:30 am – 5:00 pm. Orders may be placed by phone or on the web for a quick, safe pickup from the service window! Read more about that here.

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 is spent sourcing the very best of these items. In many cases, the folks at Red Hen 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!

Members of the Red Hen Baking Crew visiting Les Cedres farm in Quebec where some of the organic grain for their bread is grown.

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.

Red Hen Baker Randy unloading fresh baked baguettes

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.

 

The Congo Coffee Project

Equal Exchange is well known for revolutionizing the fair trade of organic, non-GMO coffee, chocolate, cocoa, tea, bananas, and avocados from small farmer cooperatives. They’ve become experts at creating powerful change in industries dominated by profound social, environmental, and economic exploitation and their Congo Coffee Project is no exception. You’ll find this coffee featured in our Weekly Sale from May 6th – 12th and we wanted to take a moment to shine a bit of extra light on the profound impact that your purchases of this coffee are having on survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From the time of colonization on, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been shaken by conflict. In recent decades, combatants fighting for land and resources have used sexual violence as a tactic, affecting thousands. For women, men, and children who are rape survivors in need of medical attention, there are not many treatment options; they are sometimes ostracized, abandoned, or ignored with nowhere to go. In 2011, Equal Exchange’s Quality Control Manager Beth Ann Casperson helped found the Congo Coffee Project with the Panzi Foundation as a means to bring Congolese coffee to market in the United States while offering healing for survivors and raising awareness about the alarming rate of violence.

Beth Ann Casperson – Quality Control Manager at Equal Exchange who helped initiate the Congo Coffee Project.

Survivors of sexual violence seek refuge and assistance at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, a bustling place with more than 360 staff and thousands of visitors each year. The hospital treats patients with various ailments but has become known as a safe place for survivors of sexual violence to seek treatment and an opportunity to heal from their extensive and brutal trauma. 

Since its inception in 2011, the Congo Coffee Project has raised more than $100,000 for survivors of sexual violence and Dr. Denis Mukwege, the physician responsible for treating survivors of sexual violence and raising awareness of their plight, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. One dollar from each Congo Coffee purchase goes toward supporting Dr. Mukwege’s work to assist the women, men, and children who have been impacted by sexual violence. Click here to read more about the impact of your Congo Coffee purchases and see a breakdown of how the funds are allocated. We also invite you to learn more about this project by tuning into this podcast titled Conflict, Coffee Farmers, and the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

The Congo Coffee Project

Equal Exchange is well known for revolutionizing the fair trade of organic, non-GMO coffee, chocolate, cocoa, tea, bananas, and avocados from small farmer cooperatives. They’ve become experts at creating powerful change in industries dominated by profound social, environmental, and economic exploitation and their Congo Coffee Project is no exception. You’ll find this coffee featured in our Weekly Sale from May 6th – 12th and we wanted to take a moment to shine a bit of extra light on the profound impact that your purchases of this coffee are having on survivors of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

From the time of colonization on, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been shaken by conflict. In recent decades, combatants fighting for land and resources have used sexual violence as a tactic, affecting thousands. For women, men, and children who are rape survivors in need of medical attention, there are not many treatment options; they are sometimes ostracized, abandoned, or ignored with nowhere to go. In 2011, Equal Exchange’s Quality Control Manager Beth Ann Casperson helped found the Congo Coffee Project with the Panzi Foundation as a means to bring Congolese coffee to market in the United States while offering healing for survivors and raising awareness about the alarming rate of violence.

Beth Ann Casperson – Quality Control Manager at Equal Exchange who helped initiate the Congo Coffee Project.

Survivors of sexual violence seek refuge and assistance at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, DRC, a bustling place with more than 360 staff and thousands of visitors each year. The hospital treats patients with various ailments but has become known as a safe place for survivors of sexual violence to seek treatment and an opportunity to heal from their extensive and brutal trauma. 

Since its inception in 2011, the Congo Coffee Project has raised more than $100,000 for survivors of sexual violence and Dr. Denis Mukwege, the physician responsible for treating survivors of sexual violence and raising awareness of their plight, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. One dollar from each Congo Coffee purchase goes toward supporting Dr. Mukwege’s work to assist the women, men, and children who have been impacted by sexual violence. Click here to read more about the impact of your Congo Coffee purchases and see a breakdown of how the funds are allocated. We also invite you to learn more about this project by tuning into this podcast titled Conflict, Coffee Farmers, and the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Spotlight on Rhapsody Natural Foods

Rhapsody Natural Foods is basking in Member Deals Spotlight this week and all of their fabulous fermented foods are 20% off for member-owners from April 22nd – 29th. Read on to learn more about this family-owned local business hailing from the heart of Cabot, VT, and their quest to bring you traditional plant-based foods produced in harmony with nature:

Sjon and Elysha Welters moved to the US from the Netherlands in 1983 with their 1-year-old daughter in tow in search of a place to build a homestead from which they could carve out a sustainable lifestyle. Their family eventually landed about a mile from Cabot Village in central Vermont and began setting down roots, raising their three children, and starting a business. 

Sjon Welters on the family homestead in Cabot, VT standing between the Rhapsody production facility and office

Their initial venture was a restaurant in Montpelier, which would serve as a test kitchen of sorts for the line of Rhapsody products that we know and love today. Their ultimate dream, however, was to be able to produce these foods on their homestead, cutting the commute and allowing the family to decrease their carbon footprint and dependency on imported food. The 2011 construction of a small production facility on their homestead allowed this dream to come to fruition, rooting the Welters family more deeply into the rural Vermont landscape where they were able to focus on improving the soil, maintaining their large vegetable gardens, and tending to the fruit trees and fields.

Sjon Welters in the Rhapsody production facility on the Welters family homestead

The Welters family is committed to producing foods that uphold their traditional value to nourish the health of their community. They understand that traditional foods can hold solutions to many modern-day problems. They are particularly passionate about fermented foods, which contain beneficial probiotic bacteria, are full of digestive enzymes that aid in digestion, support immunity, and help nutrients and minerals assimilate more easily. 

Rhapsody is committed to supporting a sustainable local economy by sourcing from local and regional producers as much as possible, buying organic, and minimally processed, clean ingredients, and avoiding all GMO foods. They are constantly seeking opportunities to collaborate with local farmers so that more of the ingredients in their products can be sourced closer to home. They experimented with growing rice on their homestead for 7 years, proving that rice production in Vermont is possible. They hope to someday be able to source the rice for their Koji (starter culture for their miso) locally. They are also hoping to find someone who is excited to grow organic natto soybeans locally as those are only available from a very limited number of suppliers. Rhapsody’s products are certified organic by Vermont Organic Farmers and their goal is not to only meet the organic standards but to exceed them, as the national standards of organic become less representative of the intention on which it was based. Additionally, in October of 2020, all of Rhapsody Natural Foods’ products became certified kosher.

Sjon Welters planting rice on the homestead

 

Presently, their three children and their families (7 grandchildren) live on the same property and support the business in their own unique ways, making it a true family affair. According to their webpage, the Welters family is “committed to running a sustainable business that supports a natural lifestyle where the days and weeks of our lives are engaging, dynamic, inspiring, challenging, and fulfilling. Production, sales, marketing, distribution, and bookkeeping are all divided up according to skillset and interest. We get it all done with a sense of purpose and satisfaction! In the face of the health, economic, and environmental crisis that our community, both local and global, faces today we are committed to actions that contribute to positive change. Our work towards meeting this challenge is in part by sharing our passion for high-quality fermented local food!”

 

 

Spotlight on Tierra Farm

We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on Tierra Farm this week to highlight the socially and environmentally responsible practices of this employee-owned business. They provide an array of healthy products to our bulk department that are certified organic, gluten-free, kosher, and GMO-free, all of which are produced in small batches in their solar-powered facility in Valatie, NY. From April 8th – 14th, member-owners can enjoy 20% off their delicious dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, and other healthy snacks! Read on to learn more about this fantastic small business and its commitment to responsible practices throughout the supply chain:

Tierra Farm is a Certified Organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts and dried fruits located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. Their customers consist mainly of cooperatives and independently owned grocery stores that value working with an employee-owned, environmentally conscious company that manufactures its own products.

Tierra Farm started as a diversified organic vegetable farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The organic nuts & dried fruit portion of the business started in 1999, as a way to generate income in the slower winter months. That portion of the business has continued to thrive and evolve into a year-round operation, though they still maintain their original farm.

Tierra Farm offers their customers exceptional value through unbeatable quality at prices that are fair both to the consumer and to the farmer. Their products are made without preservatives, added oils or refined sugars, in their own peanut-free facility. They manufacture the products they sell: dry roasting and flavoring nuts and seeds, blending trail mixes, grinding butter, and covering nuts and fruits in fair-trade chocolate. Everything is made in small, hand-crafted batches for freshness.

One of their core values has been to cultivate strong relationships with the best organic farmers in the world. They work directly with the farmers from which they source their nuts, seeds, and dried fruit and have worked with some of these farmers for over a decade. Being in direct communication with their farmers allows the preservation of their organic integrity and ensures fair business practices throughout the supply chain.

Tierra Farm handles only Certified Organic products which are grown without synthetic pesticides, genetically modified organisms, or chemical fertilizers. This helps sustain biodiversity, conserves fresh water, and enhances the soil. They generate over 70% of their electricity from solar panels and recycle over 60% of their waste. Their boxes are made from recycled cardboard and their containers are made from over 50% recycled material – both are recyclable after use. They’re continuously looking for better ways to protect the planet.

Tierra Farm is also committed to community. They recognize that there’s a whole big world outside their doors and they want to help make it as beautiful as possible. With this in mind, they embrace opportunities to s

upport local charities and help them continue to do great work in service to others. 

Recently selected one of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies by Inc. 5000, Tierra Farm remains committed to their team members. Every single Tierra Farm employee makes a living wage of $15 per hour and enjoys a comprehensive health benefits program, as well as a retirement plan and onsite lunch. In August of 2019, Tierra Farm became a Certified B Corporation, one of only 3,000 companies worldwide to earn this distinction.

 

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