The exuberant and resourceful Wendy Mackenzie grew up in the green hills of Vermont, surrounded by her mother’s gardens. Yet, it wasn’t until the mid-’90s that she developed a fascination with herbalism and plants. At the time, she was a high school health teacher in Wilmington, VT, and invited a local herbalist, Isabelle Hadley, to do a presentation for her students. When Wendy got her hands on the dried flowers and essential oils, she was hooked. “This was back when I didn’t know a daisy from a daffodil,” she said, but the seed was planted, and eventually, it blossomed into Meadowscape Botanicals.
The ride to Misty Knoll Farms is about two and a half hours from the Brattleboro Food Co-op, and every turn greets you with a new field, farm, barn, or gorgeous pasture with animals and crops. It is a delightful ride that reminds you of how abundant agriculture is in Vermont.
During the 1980s John Palmer assisted his daughter in raising turkeys for a 4-H project. Together they raised 20 or so turkeys in his basement and yard. At the end of the project, he gave away the ready-to-cook turkeys to friends and family, generating amazing responses.
Dan Seals has been the quiet partner behind Yalla hummus & falafel for years. As of January 1st, 2022, he officially owns fifty percent of Yalla Foods Manufacturing, LLC, the wholesale wing of the Yalla enterprise, and is responsible for producing all of the world-class Yalla hummus and falafel we know and love. Atop the foundation of generosity, integrity, and soulfulness laid by founder and partner Zohar Arama, Dan is poised to build an ever more thriving business and bring their delicious creations to an ever-widening Yalla community.
The inception of Prohibition Pig and their current success have been built miraculously on the back of a natural disaster and a global pandemic. Not many businesses can claim to have weathered such adversity but the folx at Prohibition Pig can. In 2011, the space where their current restaurant and brewery is located on Main Street in Waterbury, VT, was flooded during Tropical Storm Irene, forcing the brewery and pub that occupied it at the time, The Alchemist, to find a new location. However, the owners of Prohibition Pig wanted to keep the 200-year-old building alive and continue its history of serving food and brewing beer, so they persevered through a big cleanup of the premises.
When I asked Elaine Morley what it’s like to have the same job for forty-one years, she replied that things are ever-changing at Couch Brook Farm. Her day’s work varies according to the seasons and cycles of growth. And when you purchase the organic fruits, flowers, veggies, herbs, or pottery produced at Couch Brook, you not only contribute to a small, independently- and woman-owned organic farm, but you also support a rootedness and steady, enthusiastic dedication that has lasted since Elaine created her business in 1981 at the age of twenty-three. Now, at sixty-four, she and Couch Brook are still going strong.
Wilcox’s Plant Based Ice Cream
Local! From Wilcox Ice Cream, Arlington, Vermont
Just south of the border in Greenfield, MA, New England Naturals has been a pioneer in granola since 1977. Their granola was first baked in pizza ovens and some of the original recipes are still being produced today. The mission of NEN is a commitment to the values of trust, integrity, excellence, and sustainability. Being an employee-owned organization allows their staff to be deeply invested in their work and ensures that a high quality product is produced each and every day—all while having stock in the company. They are seeking to grow their distribution across the country with a continued push towards healthy ingredients and delicious flavors.
Just off Main Street in Brattleboro, VT, a farm called Grateful Greens is growing nutrient-dense greens in what was an unused basement and office facility. It’s an amazing concept built on the goal of creating a more sustainable and resilient food system. This dream is made possible by founder James Mayer’s can-do attitude plus his experience with the use of highly efficient indoor farming techniques. It has also been brought to fruition through investment, property, and knowledge from the folx at Delta Vermont. This extremely successful farming model is in the early adopter phase and with proper planning, use of renewable energy, and expansions, it could become something that truly brings to us a more secure local food system.
Some cheese is made in large factories from milk that’s been shipped from hundreds of miles away. Some is made in small cottages on tiny farms. Shelburne Farms cheddar is made in the Vermont equivalent of Hogwarts, Winterfell, or a Disney castle, depending on your reference point. This non-profit is a uniquely Vermont fairy tale: Shelburne Farms cheddar is the rich, savory, crumbly-creamy crowning jewel of an organization that strives to make a positive difference in the world, radiating out from its historic, pastoral 1,400-acre campus.
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!