On Saturday, July 7th, our Brattleboro Food Co-op will join co-ops around the world in celebrating International Co-ops Day, joining the United Nations (UN) and the International Co-operative Alliance in a commemoration held annually since 1923. This year, at a time of dramatic change in the political and environmental climates and local economies, co-ops and credit unions are highlighting how their businesses offer a solution by contributing to more sustainable local communities.
Tierra Farm supplies lots and lots of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, granola, coffees and chocolate covered delights in all sorts of flavors and varieties to our Bulk department. They’re easy to miss, since they generally use zero-to-minimal packaging, and the packaged goods we do carry from them are branded with our own Brattleboro Food Co-op logo. But once you notice them, you’ll see them everywhere: in the Bulk bins, on the Bulk shelves, next to the registers, in the baby section. And you might also notice that all their product is organic, peanut free, kosher, and non-GMO, and if you taste their products you’ll notice they’re all REALLY GOOD. I fell for the Austrian pumpkin seeds when they were on sale a couple months ago…yeesh.
After consuming lettuce and salad greens from faraway farms much of the winter, it is indeed delightful to enjoy one of the first delicacies of spring produce: mixed greens. There is an array of baby greens, often in a variety of shades of greens and reds, as well as in different shapes and textures. It is the farmer’s choice, what might be found in the bag of mixed greens, thus it is a surprise for the palate when you bring them home. The tastes awaken your taste buds early in the season, with distinctive flavors of sweet, sour, and bitter. Baby lettuce leaves neutralize the flavors of the other greens often included, such as spinach, pak choi, bok choy. kale, arugula, or beet greens. There may also be radicchio, sorrel, or dandelion, mustard, or turnip greens. These tastes vary in pungency from mild to very strong, but the vast variety of options are welcome.
I really enjoy the first Monday of the month when the Board of Directors come together to discuss the state of the Co-op. We all get to enjoy each other’s company, have a great meal from the Deli (always a home run), occasionally meet shareholders who are joining us for the meeting, and to discuss our Co-op. It has been so encouraging to see the Co-op doing better financially. It has also been wonderful to see how communication has increased and improved between and/or with shareholders, customers, staff, and our community.
It seemed as though summer would never arrive this year, least of all spring. But I noticed how we rejoiced in the smallest of signs as our world thawed out, from peepers to colors. Regardless of the length of winter’s release, every April, our store and town explode in crazily festooned pinwheels, symbols of support for our friends over at Kids Playce. Every spring, like so many cycles, our intentional entanglement with our community partners is announced like a blare of trumpets from these fun wind-driven splashes of color.
From the early 1950’s until the late 1980’s, the United States government placed a high priority on subsidizing wool because of its importance as a material for military uniforms. During this time, David Major’s family was able to raise many sheep and earn up to three dollars a pound for their wool. The industry thrived, and allowed thousands of Americans make a decent living. When the subsidies ended in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the entire wool market in the United States collapsed. Once-vibrant woolen mills in Vermont and Rhode Island became obsolete, as the business of raising sheep quickly travelled overseas due to American farmers no longer being able to survive.