Peter and Virginia Vogel founded Back Roads Granola with the goal of creating the best granola you have ever tasted. They have been entrepreneurs in one form or another for much of their lives, and in many ways their success story starts with Virginia and Peter’s skills: Virginia’s business savvy and sales and marketing experience, combined with her commitment to impeccable customer service, has led their strategy, branding, and sales approach; she and her team build relationships with every one of their current buyers, and are quick to respond on every level to satisfy their customer base.
Sustainability. The capacity to endure without contributing to wanton depletion. Economically, socially, culturally, and ecologically, we at your Co-op are charged with positive contributions to the longevity of our community. Specifically, I interpret this to mean that we provide the goods and services that are needed in the local community, and we operate a fiscally sound business in order to contribute to the local economy. A tall order, to be sure. For two years now, we have been able to make a profit, although that profit is well under 1% of sales. Still, being on the right side of that zero is part of our charge.
End 1: The BFC exists to meet its Shareholders’ collective needs for reasonably priced food and products with an emphasis on healthy, locally grown organic and fairly traded foods.
One of the most common shopper concerns board directors hear when we table is the cost of items at our Co-op. Some people, however, have discovered ways to shop at the Co-op without experiencing sticker shock. Whenever I talk with someone who has budget concerns, I recommend they get information about the Co-op’s growing Food For All program. If our conversation lasts a little longer, I share some shopping tips with them. I also talk with those whom I see frequently about buying strategies, recipes, better options, or I make recommendations about what to buy.
Cheese can be included as part of a healthy diet, and since it is so much a part of the local food scene here in Vermont, it must be recognized and appreciated. Vermont has the largest number of artisan cheesemakers per capita in the U.S., and many of these locally produced cheeses are sold at the Co-op. Unlike mass-produced cheese, artisan cheese is made in small quantities, by hand, from fresh, locally available milk from a variety of animals that include Vermont cows, sheep, goats, and buffalo.
As humans we crave connection, to build relationships that nourish us and those around us. At Orchard Hill Breadworks, Noah started baking bread in 1997 with this as a source of inspiration. Since then he has built a business that strives to be integrated into the community, fulfilling the needs of those around him in a way that calls back to the days of villages inhabited by people who, with a variety of skills and trades, were able to sustain themselves and each other through cooperation.
It’s late January. I was elected to the Board two months ago and have taken a deep dive: two BFC Board meetings, two tablings, committee meetings, a daylong retreat with my Board colleagues, and another full day training entitled Cooperative Board Leadership (CBL) 101 at Keene State College.
As you can imagine, the grocery business is an energy-intensive proposition. What with refrigeration, heating and cooling, technology, and extensive cooking, we do require significant resources to run our store. But we have worked very hard over the last few years in particular to decrease our landfill contributions, and to offer you ways to reduce waste in purchasing your produce and bulk products.
Do you enjoy the Food for Thought newsletter? In an effort to save money and reduce waste we will begin sending out our paper Food for Thought every other month. April will be the first month you’ll receive all our stories, updates, and promotions ONLY via email; after the March edition, the next print newsletter will be delivered in May. Food for Thought will now be a 6x-per-year instead of a 12x-per-year publication.
We all know that hydration is so important in the heat of the summer, but do we think about it now, in the middle of winter? The body needs hydration any day of the year—no matter the temperature—in the form of LIQUIDS, and some of us are better than others at paying special attention to that in any season. It applies to each and everyone—at any age.
Well it’s been a journey. After a second try, I am now a board member of the Brattleboro Food Co-op. The Co-op is a place I have shopped with my children their entire lives—starting as a cashier while pregnant with my son who is now about to graduate high school!
In November I had the opportunity to spend a day at Keene State College as a prospective BFC board candidate attending a Co-op Café sponsored by CDS Consulting Co-op and the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA), a federation of more than 35 New England and New York Co-ops. NFCA represents over 144,000 members, combined annual revenues of $330 million, $90 million in purchasing of local products, and 2,300 jobs valued at $69 million. There is power in numbers.
Cajeta. A time-honored tradition in Mexico. It is an irresistible caramel sauce made with fresh goat’s milk and pure sweeteners cooked in copper kettles. And it’s a labor of love, as it takes much time and precision to make this concoction. Since 2006, the family that owns and operates Fat Toad Farm has been offering a Vermont rendition of cajeta from their farm in Brookfield, VT. In fact, it all started when their daughter Josey returned from Mexico with this recipe, knowing they had lots of extra goat’s milk that could be made into this delectable dessert.
This is an interesting end policy that invites much discussion. It was created relatively recently after a few difficult years of turmoil in our Co-op, marked by tragedy on many levels. The board, in reflection on this time, thought it necessary to explicitly address the overarching goal of a positive internal culture, as defined by cooperative values.