We have a few weeks of summer left but fall is fast approaching. Kids and teachers are back to school and many trees are starting to give us their first hint of color. By the time you read this we will have celebrated Labor Day. It can be easy to forget that Labor Day is much more than an extra day off in the fall. Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions of workers everywhere and was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century. The Brattleboro Food Co-op is proud to be closed on Labor Day as we celebrate and recognize the contribution of our staff and our partnership with the UFCW Local 1459 who represent them.
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.
I would like to start this month by extending a heartfelt thank you to Jon Megas-Russell who is moving on to new adventures after an amazing career with the Co-op. Jon built a strong and capable Marketing and Community Relations team and was instrumental in helping the Co-op build strong ties to our community. Jon – thank you for your time, energy, and service as a member of the Brattleboro Food Co-op team. You will be missed, and we wish you the best in your future endeavors!
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.
In honor of my first 4th of July as GM of the Co-op, I would like to share some thoughts about independence. Independence has been core to the Co-op identity since the Rochdale Principles were articulated in 1844. As such, it is an important concept for us to understand and embrace at the Brattleboro Food Co-op (BFC). Independence is usually defined in one of two ways. The first is the state of being free from outside control. The second is not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence. I firmly believe that in order to serve the Ends articulated by our shareholders, we must be true to our Cooperative Principles.
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 update in May centered around the idea of emergence. As I write this in the shadow of the horrific events in Buffalo, Uvalde, and the ongoing atrocities in the Ukraine I would like to share some thoughts about resilience. Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty. In many ways it is easy to feel helpless in moments like these. What can we do that is meaningful for the parent in Uvalde whose child is never coming home? For a grieving mother in Buffalo who must explain to her children why they will never visit their grandmother again?
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.
As week four of my tenure at the Brattleboro Food Coop comes to a close, the word ‘emergence’ comes to mind. Emergence is the process of coming into view or being after being concealed. It is Spring, a season of rebirth and renewal so it seems only fitting that our community is also cautiously emerging as the long ‘winter’ of the pandemic begins to subside. While there are still signs of the passing winter and the threat of a new variant remains present, the signs of Spring and life beyond COVID are beginning to take shape.
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.
I am excited to be writing my first contribution as the General Manager of the Brattleboro Food Cooperative! After a very eventful cross country move that included a U-Haul breakdown, a blizzard warning, and a high wind advisory my family and I are finally settling back into life in New England.
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.