Organic

Spotlight on New Leaf Organics

With local harvest season in full swing, we’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on a wonderful organic farm that not only provides our Co-op with a bounty of organic vegetables but also allows us to offer a stunning variety of locally-grown veggie and herb starts for gardeners in the spring! New Leaf Organics is featured in our Member Deals Spotlight this week, and member-owners can enjoy 20% off their glorious produce from August 9th – 15th! 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 18th 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.

They grow 3 acres of vegetables and 1.5 acres of flowers which are all sold in Vermont. You can find them at farmers markets in Waitsfield and Winooski and they deliver to various area stores and restaurants. You can also sign up for their fruit & veggie CSA and/or their flower CSA.

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!

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.

 

Spotlight on Aqua ViTea

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on Aqua ViTea! Their full line of local Kombucha is 20% off for member-owners from August 2nd – 8th. 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.

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! Our fountains have been flowing ever since!

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. And 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!

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.

Here’s a look at their famous spinning cone column:

 

 

You’ll notice that Aqua ViTea Kombucha now bears theAlcohol 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.

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Stonyfield

We’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on Stonyfield this week to highlight their commitment to organic dairy, the family farmers that make it possible, and the Earth that sustains us. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their full line of organic dairy products from July 26th – August 1st! Read on to learn more about Stonyfield’s history and mission:

 

History:

While Stonyfield is best known for making yogurt, yogurt wasn’t the way the founders of Stonyfield thought they’d change the world. In 1983, Stonyfield co-founders Samuel Kaymen and Gary Hirshberg were simply trying to help family farms survive, protect the environment, and keep food and food production healthy through their nonprofit organic farming school.

Just to keep things running, the duo started putting their farm’s seven cows to work making yogurt. They knew they were making a healthy food grown with care; what they didn’t expect was how much people would love it.

People went crazy for the yogurt from Samuel and Gary’s little farm school, and the two knew they had found a way to make a real difference. With this yogurt business, the two organic farming teachers could show the whole world that a company could make healthy, delicious food without relying on toxic chemicals that harm the environment and public health.

So, the two went all-in on yogurt and, over 30 years later, the folks at Stonyfield continue to honor the example their founders set. They’re still located in New Hampshire, just 30 miles east of the old farm. And now, their organic ingredient purchases support a huge network of food producers made up of hundreds of organic family farms, thousands of organic cows, and over 200,000 organic acres!

They‘ve also pioneered planet-friendly business practices—from offsetting emissions at their production facility to making yogurt cups from plants instead of petroleum to making their own renewable energy, and much more.

The thought and passion that started Stonyfield Organic in the first place have only grown stronger, and they’ve never stopped working for healthy food, healthy people, and a healthy planet.

Commitment to Organic:

Stonyfield’s products are all 100% certified organic – made without the use of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs.  Eating organic isn’t just good for you and your family, it’s straight up good for other people and the planet. One of the main goals of organic farming practices is to avoid contamination of our precious soil, rivers, drinking water, and air with toxic persistent chemicals. Which also means organic farmers themselves and their neighbors aren’t exposed to potentially carcinogenic herbicides. Organic agriculture not only means less dependence on fossil fuels, it can actually help reduce climate change. It’s estimated that converting all of America’s cropland to organic would have the same carbon-reducing effect as taking 217 million cars off the road!

There is also compelling evidence to support the notion that organic dairy is more nutritious than its conventional counterpart. Why? Because it comes from cows that are actively grazing on grass, as nature intended. Organically raised cows spend their days outside on pasture so the milk they produce is significantly higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), heart-healthy fats that can help lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. There is a lot to be learned and said about organic farming, and Stonyfield hopes you will join them in the journey towards better food systems. Click here to learn more.

Spotlight on Wood’s Market Garden

There are certain fruits and vegetables that seem to announce the changing of the seasons and for us here at the Co-op, the day we receive our first delivery of local, organic tomatoes and strawberries from Wood’s Market Garden, we know that summer is finally here! We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Wood’s Market Garden this week to highlight their magnificent 150-acre organic farm in Brandon, VT. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off all of their glorious local, organic fruits and veggies from June 27th – July 4th.  Read on to learn more about their farm and the family that makes it possible for us to offer such a beautiful bounty:

Wood’s Market Garden is a fruit, vegetable & flower farm and seasonal market nestled in the quaint town of Brandon, Vermont. Their fields have been producing fresh food for the greater Brandon community for over 100 years!

The farm consists of 150 acres of Vermont farmland and woods. Known far and wide for their delicious sweet corn and plump, sweet strawberries, they also grow over 50 kinds of vegetables and fruits on 60 acres of sandy loam soils. Their produce and vegetable plants are certified organic, and in addition to their field production, they also have 7 greenhouses for raising bedding plants, ornamentals, vegetable starts and the tastiest early tomatoes in the state! Their unique varieties of plants and passion for quality crops keeps people coming back year after year.

Farmer Jon Satz purchased the iconic Wood’s farm from Bob and Sally Wood in 2000. With his passion for growing and sustainable farming practices, the farm and market have blossomed into a destination for beautiful organic vegetables, quality bedding plants and some of the sweetest strawberries around! Jon, his wife Courtney, and their 2 young sons make their home on the farm and enjoy the continued legacy of farming the land that the Wood family started generations ago.

Their farm stand and market is open 7 days a week during the spring and summer season. Outside, it’s a paradise of plants, hanging baskets, creeping vines, and gardens to wander. Perhaps you’ve seen it while driving down Route 7 South through Brandon? You’ll notice Jones Mill Pond, which during the warm summer months is covered with those famous pink water lilies, and Wood’s sprawling acres of lush fields and greenhouses surrounding the pond.

Inside the market, the shelves and baskets are filled with gorgeous fresh produce from the farm. Depending on what’s in season, you’ll find everything from fresh spinach to strawberries to squash. In addition to produce, they have an unbelievable variety of artisanal cheese, organic milk and local dairy products, local meat and poultry, fresh baked goods, maple syrup, honey, jam and more! It’s a foodie paradise at Wood’s Market….a really fun place to shop, and guaranteed to make you smile. Stop in and see them on your next trip through Brandon!

Spotlight on Neighborly Farms

As part of our celebration of Dairy Month, we’re shining our Co-op Spotlight on a fantastic local, organic dairy farm hailing from Randolph Center, VT: Neighborly Farms! Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their award-winning organic cheeses from June 21st – 27th! Read on to learn more about this 168-acre organic dairy farm that calls VT home:

Neighborly-Farms. Round Logo

Established as an operating dairy farm in the 1920’s, Rob and Linda Dimmick are continuing the tradition of family farming. Nestled in the rolling hills of Randolph Center, Vermont, Neighborly Farms decorates the countryside with its red barn and white post and beam farmhouse built in the 1800s. They operate on 168 acres with cropland and grazing fields to support the dairy and a sugarhouse for producing pure Vermont maple syrup. The clean and tidy barn is home to 70 Holsteins—the black and white cows that symbolize rural living at its very best.

Rob and Linda are continuing the family farming tradition because they have a passion for the land and animals. They are a totally organic farm. This means the farm is run in complete harmony with the land and the animals; no antibiotics, no hormones, and no commercial fertilizers. Just pure and natural techniques that keep the cows healthy, happy, and the dairy products wholesome and chemical-free. It means that the cheese produced at Neighborly Farms are pure and natural. And the best part? The organic cheeses taste great too.

Neighborly Farms of Vermont is not just another dairy farm. At their family farm, there is a deep love for the land and animals. That’s why they choose to be an organic farm. It’s a way of showing that they care about their surroundings and neighbors. Neighborly Farms produces eleven kinds of delicious organic cheeses; all made with wholesome milk from their well-cared-for Holstein cows. They make cheese the old-fashioned way and believe that caring for the land and surroundings helps them produce the finest cheeses possible.

At the Co-op, you’ll find a rotating variety of their cheeses including Jalapeno Jack, Monterey Jack, Colby, Feta, Green Onion Cheddar, and their staple Raw Milk Cheddar, many of which have been honored with awards from the prestigious American Cheese Society. They hope you enjoy them and they thank you for supporting your local, organic dairy farms!

Spotlight on Tierra Farm

We’re casting our Co-op 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 nearby Valatie, NY. They’re featured in our Member Deals program this week, so member-owners can enjoy 20% off their delicious fair-trade coffee, dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, and other healthy snacks from May 24th – 30th! Read on to learn more about this fantastic small business and their commitment to responsible practices throughout the supply chain:

Tierra Farm is a Certified Organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts, dried fruits, and coffee located 20 miles south of Albany, 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, covering nuts and fruits in fair-trade chocolate, and roasting fair trade coffee. 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 deli cup 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 also values the importance of investing in their staff. They have an in-house gym, an in-house chef who cooks daily organic, gluten-free meals for staff – often using fresh produce directly from their farm, a staff masseuse who visits weekly, and they offer many employee health initiatives such as a smoking cessation program that allows their staff to be 100% tobacco-free.

If you’re passing through the Albany area, they invite you to check out their retail store at Tierra Farm’s headquarters in Valatie, NY, where local customers are able to purchase all of their (almost 200) products!

Spotlight on Real Pickles

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly this week on a worker-owned cooperative aiming to change the food system by making pickles – Real Pickles! All of their probiotic-packed products are 20% off for member-owners this week! Read on to learn more about what makes this co-op beyond worthy of the spotlight:

 

The Real Pickles story begins in 1999 when Dan Rosenberg attended a traditional pickling workshop during a NOFA conference. Armed with this new skill, he began pickling locally-grown vegetables as a way to preserve the harvest so that he could continue eating locally during the winter months. He was further inspired by the work of Dr. Weston A. Price, a researcher who traveled the world in the 1920s and 30s studying the diets of indigenous peoples, finding that those eating traditional diets including fermented foods enjoyed a high level of health completely unknown in industrialized societies.

After two years of experimenting with recipes and honing the craft, Dan was ready to launch the business. From the very beginning, he prioritized local/regional food and organic agriculture. Real Pickles would buy its organic vegetables only from Northeast organic farms and sell its products only within the Northeast. A year later, the business began operating out of the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center in Greenfield, MA, a business incubator kitchen created to boost the local agricultural economy by providing a venue for making value-added foods with local farm ingredients. Dan was soon joined by Addie Rose Holland and the business began to grow.

Dan Rosenberg and Addie Rose Holland

By 2009, Real Pickles had outgrown the incubator kitchen and was ready to settle into their own home. They purchased a century-old industrial building in Greenfield, MA and transformed it into a solar-powered, energy-efficient, organic pickling facility. The move allowed for a significant expansion, tripling their purchases from local farms in the years to follow. Their success demonstrates that there is a real and growing demand for raw, fermented vegetables and that consumers value a business as deeply committed to social responsibility.

In 2013, with a goal of preserving their social mission for the long term and with the help of a successful community investment campaign, Real Pickles took the exciting step of transitioning their business to a worker co-operative. They are proud to join the ranks of other co-operatives that are supporting local ownership, workplace democracy, and contributing to the co-operative economy!

Want to learn more about the farmers in our region that supply Real Pickles with fresh, organic veggies? Click HERE!

To learn more about the health benefits of fermented foods, click HERE.

 

Guacamole

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.

Spotlight on Cascadian Farm

We’re shining this week’s Member Deals Spotlight on Cascadian Farm. Their full line of organic products are 20% off for member-owners from April 19th – 25th, so it’s a great time to stock up and save! Read on to learn more about their commitment to providing healthy, organic foods for more than 45 years:

The Cascadian Farm story began over 45 years ago when founder, Gene Kahn, an idealistic 24-year-old grad-school dropout from Chicago, wanted to make a difference in the world. He recognized the delicate balance between humans and their environment and wanted to farm in a way that would not harm the natural beauty of the earth or her inhabitants. Inspired by reading “Silent Spring” and “Diet For A Small Planet”, he set out to farm organically on a little stretch of land next to the Skagit River in the Cascade Mountains of Washington.

The Cascadian Farm family is proud that more than 45 years after their founding, the original farm is still rooted in the organic values it was founded upon. It represents their ‘true north’, demonstrating their commitment to organic and land stewardship practices to the partner farms they work with to bring organic products to more consumers. Dedication and passion from farmers past and present preserves this organic legacy. Their company has been recognized as a pioneer in converting large-acreage conventional farms to organic production, now boasting more than 100,000 acres of organic farmland.

Want to visit the farm? They’re offering a trip for two to tour the original farm in Skagit Valley, WA to learn all about their history and farming practices! Three runners up will win $250 in free Cascadian Farm product. To enter, click HERE anytime after April 19th.

Why Organic?

Choosing organic foods allows you to:

  • limit your exposure to synthetic insecticides, fungicides, and herbicide
  • limit your intake of growth hormones and antibiotics
  • limit your intake of genetically modified foods

Organic Foods:

  • Do rely on natural biological systems for pest and weed control thus avoiding use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and soil fumigants.
  • Do improve the quality and fertility of the soil
  • Do protect water quality
  • Do reduce soil erosion
  • Do reduce the impact of agriculture on our environment
  • Do produce high quality, great tasting food
  • Don’t use genetic engineering
  • Don’t use sewage sludge as fertilizer

Take it from Jim Meyer – Cascadian Farm’s Organic Educator and Farm Manager from 1993 until his retirement in 2015. His strong belief in working with nature and giving back to the community set a solid foundation for the future of the farm:

Spotlight on Amy’s Kitchen

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Amy’s Kitchen this week to shed some light on a family-owned company that was organic before organic was cool. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off the full line of Amy’s Kitchen products from April 5th – 11th! Read on to learn more about this pioneering company that set out over 30 years ago to offer convenient, time-saving foods that didn’t sacrifice health or quality:

Amys25th_Red+Leaves

Their Story

Amy’s didn’t set out to become the nation’s leading frozen food brand; they simply hoped to create a successful business that would provide convenient and tasty vegetarian meals for people who appreciated good food but were often too busy to cook healthy, organic meals from scratch.

Andy & Rachel Berliner launched the business 1987, the year their daughter Amy was born, using their own house and barn as headquarters. The founding meetings were held in the same room where the couple married and where Amy was born. They began with a humble vegetarian pot pie, followed soon after by pizzas and soups. The business continued to evolve and expand, realizing a need to include gluten-free and dairy-free items for those living with food allergies. Amy has since grown up and started a family of her own. She and her husband, Jace, both play active roles within the company.

Berliner Family

Organic Before Organic Was Cool

Amy’s was serving up organic food before there was a national certification program. In fact, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to create standards for organic, they looked to Amy’s for guidance. Together with other industry leaders, they helped pioneer the organic food industry and, more importantly, helped make organic food available to more people. Their commitment to organic ensures that neither farmers nor consumers are exposed to harmful chemicals and pesticides. A proud supporter of GMO labeling initiatives, all of Amy’s dishes are non-GMO. They were also the first to market canned items with non-BPA-lined cans, and they’re happy to see many other food companies following their lead.

Amy’s Kitchen has grown beyond the Berliner’s wildest dreams, going from several family members pitching in anywhere they can, to a wonderful group of employees, farmers, and suppliers. But no matter how big the company grows, one thing will always remain the same—the family spirit that permeates every decision made inside of Amy’s Kitchen. Although they have considerably expanded their production facilities and the number of people they employ, Amy’s remains family-owned and fiercely independent. They choose what’s best for their customers, their farmers, their employees, and the planet. It’s a tall order, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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