Every October cooperative businesses from around the world celebrate National Co-op Month. As our fellow cooperators at the National Cooperative Business Association state, “National Co-op Month is an annual opportunity to raise awareness of a trusted, proven way to do business and build communities. Under the theme, “Build Back for Impact,” this year’s Co-op Month is also a chance to leverage our shared cooperative identity in the face of some of the biggest challenges we face: a global pandemic, climate emergency, and systemic racism. As we build back an economy that works for everyone, our biggest impact comes from embracing the values and principles that make us truly unique.”
On a gorgeous sunny July afternoon I sat on a picturesque stone wall at Dwight Miller Orchards in Dummerston, VT, with Malah and Read Miller. During our time together they indulged me in all things related to growing fruit and running one of the oldest orchards in Vermont. Their family has been growing fruit here since the 1800s, while living on the land since the 1700s. Running an orchard takes hard work, perseverance, flexibility, and a great family. Each year brings its own set of successes, hardships, and innovations—with the year 2021 having a solid apple harvest outlook.
There is a way for professional dairy farmers to have truly loving partnerships with their animals. This is the central notion of AlpineGlo Farm that Rachel Ware wants to convey. Plus, milk from animals who are relaxed, secure, and respected invariably makes the best cheese. Aspiring animal-loving goatherds, pay attention!
Deep in the woods of Dummerston, Vermont, you will find Mike Euphrat working on his sugarbush. Outfitted with a variety of tools, tubes, and taps he works to prepare, upgrade, and or check on his lines that deliver maple sap back to his evaporator on the Bunker Farm. The Bunker Farm is owned collectively by Mike, his wife Jen, her sister Helen, and Helen’s husband Noah. It is a multi-faceted farm in which Helen operates a nursery and private gardening business that focuses on rare and specialty annuals and perennials, Noah raises pastured chickens, pigs, turkeys, and cows for a meat CSA, and Mike manages their sugar bush and maple syrup business. It has been a large undertaking that has been tremendously rewarding.
However Wild Honey is a family owned and operated apiary located in Shaftsbury, Vermont. It began over 20 years ago with Jim and Gail Howe, and included their son Adam Howe. Through those early years they developed a love for beekeeping and apiculture. The family worked together to draw the artwork for their first Raw Honey label by hand, which was then given to a local printing company who used it to create the honey labels they continue to use to this day. They then sold their honey to a few local stores. This continued while Adam was away at college and after he returned home to Vermont.
Pies will likely be one of the many treats that you bring to your holiday tables this November and December. They have a rich history dating back to the Ancient Greeks when they were made with meats such as chicken, lamb, pigeon, and beef. Only in the last couple hundred years have sweet pies become a favorite at gatherings. From apple and blueberry to pecan and cherry they always delight at the end of a meal. However, not all pies are made equally and that’s why we turn to the Saxy Chef to hand-make hundreds of sweet pies for us each holiday season and throughout the year. The inspiration for these pies comes from a love for baked goods, music, mentorship, and the best possible flavor. Her hope is that she can bring love and joy to people through her baking—making one smile with every bite.
October is National Co-op Month, and each year we choose to highlight a co-op that is locally owned and sold right here at your Brattleboro Food Co-op. Cabot Cooperative offers a unique and important representation of how co-ops can be locally owned by farms yet support production of nationally popular products. One owner of Cabot Cooperative is Hinsdale, NH-based Echo Farm. From supplying milk for Cabot products, to sitting on committees, to supporting the marketing and outreach of Cabot Cooperative, this female-run farm is proud of their contributions. In addition to supplying milk to Cabot, they proudly hand-made puddings that they sell all over the Northeast at co-ops and natural foods stores. And though they are a small farm at merely 35 acres and 70 cows, their early adoption of cutting-edge humane animal husbandry technology and protocols have made them leaders in their field.
I used to dislike apples when I was a kid, but then I tried heirloom apples from Scott Farm Orchard, and I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t like apples, I just wasn’t eating the right ones! Have you ever tasted an Ashmead’s Kernel, a Pitmaston Pineapple, a Knobbed Russet? How about a Reine des Reinettes? With their strange names and crowd-pleasing flavors, these historic gems (heirloom means they’re over 100 years old) are a world away from the mass market fruits trucked in from Washington State.
Beer brewing and its recipes were first noted on scrolls dating as far back as 5000 BC. The process and flavors progressed during the Middle Ages throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia up to the present day. From the ancient Egyptians to medieval monks and through U.S. Prohibition, beer has long been revered as a delicious and refreshing beverage.
Hanna Jenkins’ spiritual connection to flowers originates from her experiences with the bookends of life. Through the birth of her son and the death of her mom, flowers companioned her with comfort, solace, levity and inspiration. The establishment of Tapalou Guilds, her family’s farm, gave her the chance to truly understand that flowers can provide deep support and how important it was for her to try and spread that joy through her work. As their website states, “Tapalou Guilds is a family-owned and -operated, mission-driven flower farm in Guilford, VT. Our mission strives to evoke connection, healing, celebration and awareness, through flowers.”
I had to do my research for this month’s Producer of the Month, Badger Balm, at a distance, but the power of this company to inspire and connect came through nonetheless. I had a great phone conversation with Bill Whyte, Badger’s founder; received eloquent answers from other members of the family leadership team via email; and found a treasure trove of information and inspiration on the Badger Balm website—I daresay Badger is the perfect Producer of the Month to feature during a global pandemic. I’ve learned that this local company, based in Gilsum, NH, is helping lead the way internationally towards a better, kinder economy, one that gives back to the earth, builds connections and cooperation, and redefines success for the 21st century.
The origins of the fermented beverage kombucha date back a few thousand years to where it was first consumed in China, Russia, and Europe. Today it is a drink that is either loved or loathed. Some say it tastes too much like vinegar, others love the sparkling flavor that is often sweetened with fruit juice. The reality is that kombucha’s popularity is spreading and it can now be found in almost every grocery store, including the Co-op. CEO and Founder of Aqua ViTea Jeff Weaber fell in love with and perfected this nourishing beverage while he was a home brewer, then launched the Vermont kombucha company called Aqua ViTea, and the success of their kombucha has taken off as the company has utilized both ancient tradition and modern technology to create a unique and sparkling beverage offering.