Spotlight

Spotlight on Aqua ViTea

This week’s  Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on Aqua ViTea! All of their non-alcoholic Kombucha and Selzer are 20% off for member-owners from September 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn more about this unique local business with humble beginnings on a Salisbury Farm!

 

History

Aqua ViTea began in 2007 in the Salisbury, Vermont farmhouse of Jeff Weaber and Dr. Katina Martin, based on the naturopathic principle of “food as medicine.” Weaber and Martin had just relocated to Vermont after 9 years in Portland, Oregon, where Katina pursued medical degrees in Naturopathy, Midwifery, and Acupuncture and Jeff served as the brewer for The Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. Honing the craft of fermentation at work and learning about functional foods and the governing role of the digestive system from Katina at home led Weaber to discover the wonders of Kombucha.

Aqua ViTea founder Jeff Weaber with his wife Katina Martin at their Salisbury home where they first began brewing kombucha

By 2007, he was selling his Kombucha to the happy crowds at the Middlebury Farmers Market under the Aqua ViTea brand and in 2008, he began bottling his product and selling wholesale to our Co-op and a handful of other local markets. 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 just off of Exchange Street in Middlebury. Today, the rapidly growing company is the largest Kombucha producer on the east coast, employing a team of 30 full-time employees proudly brewing low sugar, alcohol-free, organic kombucha with naturally abundant probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants, whose balanced blend of sparkling refreshment and bold flavor makes it the perfect substitute for juice or soda. 

Giant vats of kombucha brewing at Aqua ViTea’s state-of-the-art facility in Middlebury

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!

Mike Kin creates the signature Freshketch artwork for Aqua ViTea

 

Commitment to Authenticity

Many commercially available Kombucha brands have been found to contain significantly more sugar and 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.

The Aqua ViTea family

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. They are one of only two kombucha makers in the country who have invested in a spinning cone column, 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.

A tour group from Addison Central Teens visits Aqua ViTea and learns about the cone extractor, which removes the alcohol from Aqua ViTea’s kombucha

 

Aqua Seltzer

The newest addition to the Aqua ViTea lineup is Aqua Seltzer! Better than your average bubbles, Aqua Seltzers, infused with organic kombucha, are refreshing better-for-you offerings packed with probiotics for immune & gut health. Weaber shares that the idea for a seltzer line was born when he looked at the ingredients list on a can of the seltzer that his teenage kids love to drink and realized that there was nothing much to them. He wondered if there was a way to create a seltzer that also offered functional nutritional benefits aside from simply providing hydration. After months of research and development and countless hours of taste testing, a new, bubbly, better-for-you beverage was born. It’s infused with kombucha, providing 5 billion probiotics per serving, along with amino acids and antioxidants, with only one gram of sugar and 15 calories. They’re thirst-quenching refreshers filled with goodness for your gut!

 

After Glow

Another exciting 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.

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Champlain Valley Creamery

We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on a local organic creamery that produces delicious award-winning cheeses just a few short miles from the Co-op. Champlain Valley Creamery uses traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheese entirely by hand in a net-zero solar-powered facility in Middlebury. Their fantastic lineup of cheeses are all 20% off for Member-owners from December 23rd – 29th! Read on to learn more about this fabulous local creamery and the people who make it shine:

 

 

Champlain Valley Creamery was first established in 2003 by founder and owner Carleton Yoder. With a graduate degree in food science and a background in wine and hard cider making, Yoder was eager to run his own food business. With Vermont’s abundance of amazing local milk, small-scale cheesemaking just made sense. Yoder began his adventures in cheesemaking in a facility in Vergennes where he focused on two products: Organic Champlain Triple and Old Fashioned Organic Cream Cheese. Both have been awarded well-deserved honors from the prestigious American Cheese Society.

Carleton Yoder

Over the years, the creamery has continued to grow and expand its offerings, eventually moving into a net-zero solar-powered facility on Middlebury’s Exchange Street in 2012. Yoder and his small crew now produce an expanded lineup of cheeses including Queso Fresco (available in original, house-smoked, and pepper varieties),  Maple Cream Cheese, a pyramid-shaped triple cream with a layer of ash known as Pyramid Scheme, and, most recently, they began importing Italian truffles to produce the Champlain Truffle Triple.

 

The Creamery also made a switch last year to using 100% grass-fed organic milk from the Severy Farm in Cornwall. The milk only travels a few short miles from the farm to the creamery, where the cheesemaking begins within hours of arrival. The use of grass-fed milk results in a richer, creamier cheese that displays subtle seasonal changes reflective of the changing diet of the cows as the seasons progress. It’s truly the terroir of Addison County in each decadent bite of cheese.

salting a fresh batch of Queso Fresco

Yoder is supported by a small crew that is just as dedicated to the craft as he is. They use traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheeses entirely by hand.  A recent visit to their facility found the crew in constant motion, measuring, stirring, monitoring temperatures, and generally putting every bit of the day’s fresh batch of milk to good use. The bulk of the cream and whole milk is used to produce the Organic Champlain Triple, Champlain Truffle Triple, and the two varieties of cream cheese. The part-skim milk is then transformed into each of the three varieties of Queso Fresco, and the whey is drained off to create hand-dipped, basket-strained ricotta that is only available to a few select restaurants in the area. The only remaining by-product is a small amount of whey, which is sent to feed the happy pigs at Hinesburg’s Full Moon Farm, resulting in an operation that is hyper-local with very minimal waste. 

Amanda Warner & Carleton Yoder, with Carleton’s daughter,  Lila Cook Yoder, who was helping out on a snow day

According to Yoder, “cheesemaking is hard work but we strive to let the milk, cream, culture, salt, and mold shine through with their amazing flavors.” It’s this minimalist approach and the desire to honor the high-quality local ingredients that make Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheeses shine.

Picture hanging above Yoder’s desk made by his son, Nate

 

Spotlight on Elmer Farm

We’re casting our Co-op Spotlight on Elmer Farm this week to celebrate this 90-acre organic farm and the farmers who bring it to life. Member-owners can enjoy 20% off their glorious spread of organic vegetables from November 11th – 17th!  Read on to learn more about the history and heritage of this farm, which has been providing food for this community since the early 1800s!

elmerlogo

Driving into East Middlebury on Route 116, it’s hard to miss the beautiful patch of flowers bordering the white farmhouse at the entryway to Elmer Farm. What you might not see from the road are the amazing fields of vegetables that are grown on this fertile, organic soil. Elmer Farm is a conserved 90-acre farm growing 8 acres of mixed vegetables, flowers, and herbs, all of which are certified organic. Annual inspections and certification by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF) ensure that the crops are grown responsibly and safely without the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

The farm originally belonged to the Elmer family in the early 1800s and has a long heritage of providing food for its community. The receding glaciers bestowed the farm with a wonderful mix of fertile soils and sandy loam, perfectly suited to growing vegetables and grains. It’s on this fruitful land that Elmer Farm now grows more than thirty-five different vegetables, an array of flowers, and culinary herbs. This includes over 200 different seed varieties, many of which are heirlooms. With a goal of maintaining long-term soil health, the crew at Elmer Farm also manages an additional 15 acres of rotating cover crop, keeping one-third of their acreage in production and two-thirds resting.

 

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

 

At the Co-op, you can find Elmer Farm’s organic red, green and napa cabbage, kale, onions, butternut and delicata squash, baby bok choy, radishes, leeks, chard, garlic, turnips, rutabagas, beets, parsnips, and, of course, their famous carrots! 

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 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn more about this unique local business with humble beginnings on a Salisbury Farm!

 

History

Aqua ViTea began in 2007 in the Salisbury, Vermont farmhouse of Jeff Weaber and Dr. Katina Martin, based on the naturopathic principle of “food as medicine.” Weaber and Martin had just relocated to Vermont after 9 years in Portland, Oregon, where Katina pursued medical degrees in Naturopathy, Midwifery, and Acupuncture and Jeff served as the brewer for The Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. Honing the craft of fermentation at work and learning about functional foods and the governing role of the digestive system from Katina at home led Weaber to discover the wonders of Kombucha.

Aqua ViTea founder Jeff Weaber with his wife Katina Martin at their Salisbury home where they first began brewing kombucha

By 2007, he was selling his Kombucha to the happy crowds at the Middlebury Farmers Market under the Aqua ViTea brand and in 2008, he began bottling his product and selling wholesale to our Co-op and a handful of other local markets. 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 just off of Exchange Street in Middlebury. Today, the rapidly growing company is the largest Kombucha producer on the east coast and proudly brews low sugar, alcohol-free, organic kombucha with naturally abundant probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants, whose balanced blend of sparkling refreshment and bold flavor makes it the perfect substitute for juice or soda. 

Giant vats of kombucha brewing at Aqua ViTea’s state-of-the-art facility in Middlebury

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!

Mike Kin creates the signature Freshketch artwork for Aqua ViTea

 

Commitment to Authenticity

Many commercially available Kombucha brands have been found to contain significantly more sugar and 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 Kombucha has kid-friendly ingredients you can trust

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. They are one of only two kombucha makers in the country who have invested in a spinning cone column, 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.

Laura Smith from Aqua ViTea tells a tour group from Addison Central Teens about the cone extractor, which removes the alcohol from Aqua ViTea’s kombucha

 

After Glow

An exciting recent 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.

 

 

 

 

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 2nd – 8th! Read on to learn more about this unique local business with humble beginnings on a Salisbury Farm!

 

History

Aqua ViTea began in 2007 in the Salisbury, Vermont farmhouse of Jeff Weaber and Dr. Katina Martin, based on the naturopathic principle of “food as medicine.” Weaber and Martin had just relocated to Vermont after 9 years in Portland, Oregon, where Katina pursued medical degrees in Naturopathy, Midwifery, and Acupuncture and Jeff served as the brewer for The Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. Honing the craft of fermentation at work and learning about functional foods and the governing role of the digestive system from Katina at home led Weaber to discover the wonders of Kombucha.

Aqua ViTea founder Jeff Weaber with his wife Katina Martin at their Salisbury home where they first began brewing kombucha

By 2007, he was selling his Kombucha to the happy crowds at the Middlebury Farmers Market under the Aqua ViTea brand and in 2008, he began bottling his product and selling wholesale to our Co-op and a handful of other local markets. 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 just off of Exchange Street in Middlebury. Today, the rapidly growing company is the largest Kombucha producer on the east coast and proudly brews low sugar, alcohol-free, organic kombucha with naturally abundant probiotics, enzymes, and antioxidants, whose balanced blend of sparkling refreshment and bold flavor makes it the perfect substitute for juice or soda. 

Giant vats of kombucha brewing at Aqua ViTea’s state-of-the-art facility in Middlebury

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!

Mike Kin creates the signature Freshketch artwork for Aqua ViTea

 

Commitment to Authenticity

Many commercially available Kombucha brands have been found to contain significantly more sugar and 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 Kombucha has kid-friendly ingredients you can trust

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. They are one of only two kombucha makers in the country who have invested in a spinning cone column, 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.

Laura Smith from Aqua ViTea tells a tour group from Addison Central Teens about the cone extractor, which removes the alcohol from Aqua ViTea’s kombucha

 

After Glow

An exciting recent 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.

 

 

 

 

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 March 11th – 17th, 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 over 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 The Bakery

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on The Bakery this week! Member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all of their favorite baked goods from this local bakery hailing from the heart of Rutland, Vermont. Read on to learn more about the bakery and their commitment to serving up their local best:

 

If you’re cruising through historic downtown Rutland and find yourself craving fresh local baked goods and a great cup of coffee, The Bakery’s got you covered. Locals may recognize The Bakery as the latest evolution of the long-successful Baba-A-Louis Bakery — a central Vermont staple for more than 30 years. The time-tested recipes are the same, baked in the same original ovens, but the name, location, and the man at the helm have been new since 2013. 

Donald Billings, who also owns Roots The Restaurant and The Annex in Rutland, as well as Crux and Mountain Merchant in Killington, took over the bakery in 2013. Billings has been involved in the restaurant industry his entire life and was named Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce‘s 2019 Business Leader of the Year.

Owner Donald Billings behind the counter at The Bakery

The Bakery’s mission is to create delicious food from fresh, local ingredients. They’re committed to providing affordable meals from minimally processed, locally-grown food, including organic crops and humanely-raised livestock. The Bakery is proud to partner with local providers and values the relationships they’ve formed with the local farmers and producers in our region.

In addition to baking up some of the most delicious bread and baked goods around, The Bakery also offers a full menu of soups, salads, smoothies, and sandwiches to please any palate. Of course, they’ve had to be nimble in the face of the pandemic and have tailored their offerings to suit a curbside-pickup model in an effort to prioritize both the safety of their staff and the community.

Here at the Co-op, you can find a wide range of their baked offerings, including bread, bagels, English muffins, and a staff favorite lemon blueberry bread that will make you swoon! 

Spotlight on The Bakery

Our Member Deals Spotlight shines brightly on The Bakery this week! Member-owners can enjoy a 20% discount on all of their favorite baked goods from this local bakery hailing from the heart of Rutland, Vermont. Read on to learn more about the bakery and their commitment to serving up their local best:

 

If you’re cruising through historic downtown Rutland and find yourself craving fresh local baked goods and a great cup of coffee, The Bakery’s got you covered. Locals may recognize The Bakery as the latest evolution of the long-successful Baba-A-Louis Bakery — a central Vermont staple for more than 30 years. The time-tested recipes are the same, baked in the same original ovens, but the name, location, and the man at the helm have been new since 2013. 

Donald Billings, who also owns Roots The Restaurant and The Annex in Rutland, as well as Crux and Mountain Merchant in Killington, took over the bakery in 2013. Billings has been involved in the restaurant industry his entire life and was named Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce‘s 2019 Business Leader of the Year.

Owner Donald Billings behind the counter at The Bakery

The Bakery’s mission is to create delicious food from fresh, local ingredients. They’re committed to providing affordable meals from minimally processed, locally-grown food, including organic crops and humanely-raised livestock. The Bakery is proud to partner with local providers and values the relationships they’ve formed with the local farmers and producers in our region.

In addition to baking up some of the most delicious bread and baked goods around, The Bakery also offers a full menu of soups, salads, smoothies, and sandwiches to please any palate. Of course, they’ve had to be nimble in the face of the pandemic and have tailored their offerings to suit a curbside-pickup model in an effort to prioritize both the safety of their staff and the community.

Here at the Co-op, you can find a wide range of their baked offerings, including bread, bagels, English muffins, and a staff favorite lemon blueberry bread that will make you swoon! 

Spotlight on 3 Bears Bakery

‘Tis the season for dazzling confections and we’re thrilled to shine our Member Deals Spotlight on a local family-owned bakery that brings some of the tastiest local treats to our Co-op shelves – 3 Bears Bakery! Read on to learn more about the family behind these decadently delicious artisan pastries, cakes, and shortbreads hailing from nearby Orwell, Vermont:

 

 

Established in 2008 by Andre and Claire Konstant, 3 Bears Bakery has been providing the local community with English and European baked goods for over 12 years.

Claire, having been raised in England, and Andre, having traveled extensively throughout western Europe, wanted to bring the tastes of these cultures to small-town Vermont. For 12 years they have been handcrafting artisan breads, pastries, cakes, shortbreads, and sweets for their local farmers’ market and small stores using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, but always focusing on the highest quality first.

Being a small family-owned business, their focus is truly local. You can find their treats at a short list of local co-ops and markets including our Co-op, the Rutland Co-op, the Rutland Farmer’s Market, Buxton’s General Store, and the Lake Hortonia General Store. They’ve also been known to fill the farmstand at Squier Family Farm with their treats from time to time. 

 

Spotlight on Champlain Valley Creamery

We’re casting our Member Deals Spotlight on a local organic creamery that produces delicious award-winning cheeses just a few short miles from the Co-op. Champlain Valley Creamery uses traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheese entirely by hand in a net-zero solar-powered facility in Middlebury. Their fantastic lineup of cheeses are all 20% off for Member-owners from December 3rd – 9th! Read on to learn more about this fabulous local creamery and the people who make it shine:

 

 

Champlain Valley Creamery was first established in 2003 by founder and owner Carleton Yoder. With a graduate degree in food science and a background in wine and hard cider making, Yoder was eager to run his own food business. With Vermont’s abundance of amazing local milk, small-scale cheesemaking just made sense. Yoder began his adventures in cheesemaking in a facility in Vergennes where he focused on two products: Organic Champlain Triple and Old Fashioned Organic Cream Cheese. Both have been awarded well-deserved honors from the prestigious American Cheese Society.

Carleton Yoder

Over the years, the creamery has continued to grow and expand its offerings, eventually moving into a net-zero solar-powered facility on Middlebury’s Exchange Street in 2012. Yoder and his small crew now produce an expanded lineup of cheeses including Queso Fresco (available in original, house-smoked, and pepper varieties),  Maple Cream Cheese, a pyramid-shaped triple cream with a layer of ash known as Pyramid Scheme, and, most recently, they began importing Italian truffles to produce the Champlain Truffle Triple.

 

The Creamery also made a switch last year to using 100% grass-fed organic milk from the Severy Farm in Cornwall. The milk only travels a few short miles from the farm to the creamery, where the cheesemaking begins within hours of arrival. The use of grass-fed milk results in a richer, creamier cheese that displays subtle seasonal changes reflective of the changing diet of the cows as the seasons progress. It’s truly the terroir of Addison County in each decadent bite of cheese.

salting a fresh batch of Queso Fresco

Yoder is supported by a small crew that is just as dedicated to the craft as he is. They use traditional techniques and small-batch pasteurization to produce their cheeses entirely by hand.  A recent visit to their facility found the crew in constant motion, measuring, stirring, monitoring temperatures, and generally putting every bit of the day’s fresh batch of milk to good use. The bulk of the cream and whole milk is used to produce the Organic Champlain Triple, Champlain Truffle Triple, and the two varieties of cream cheese. The part-skim milk is then transformed into each of the three varieties of Queso Fresco, and the whey is drained off to create hand-dipped, basket-strained ricotta that is only available to a few select restaurants in the area. The only remaining by-product is a small amount of whey, which is sent to feed the happy pigs at Hinesburg’s Full Moon Farm, resulting in an operation that is hyper-local with very minimal waste. 

Amanda Warner & Carleton Yoder, with Carleton’s daughter,  Lila Cook Yoder, who was helping out on a snow day

According to Yoder, “cheesemaking is hard work but we strive to let the milk, cream, culture, salt, and mold shine through with their amazing flavors.” It’s this minimalist approach and the desire to honor the high-quality local ingredients that make Champlain Valley Creamery’s cheeses shine.

Picture hanging above Yoder’s desk made by his son, Nate