Happy New Year everyone and thank you for an incredibly successful holiday season at the Brattleboro Food Co-op! I hope everyone found a few moments of peace and stillness during the hustle and bustle and had some time to reflect on the year.
The Brattleboro Food Co-op deli first opened in 1988, thirteen years after we first opened our doors. It has since grown into a full-service deli that includes a pizza oven, self-serve hot bar and salad bar, made-to-order smoothies and sandwiches, grab-and-go meals and snacks, cases filled with entreés and salads to suit any need or desire, meats and cheeses sliced to order, desserts, coffees, and one of the biggest production kitchens in Brattleboro–and there are more developments to come. Despite all the growth and expansion, one important thing has remained the same: everything is made from scratch, ranging from sauces and marinades to salads, casseroles, and baked goods. The stock in our soups is simmered for hours in a big silver cauldron, the eggplants have been sliced and grilled to tender perfection, and the muffins, scones, and cookies are baked fresh every day.
November was certainly a busy month for us here at the Co-op. I want to start by thanking everyone who attended our Annual Meeting. We had an informative event and I wanted to thank our panelists again for their participation and insights. We did have one issue with the meeting size that took us a few minutes to fix, so I apologize to those of you who tried to join at the start but were unable. You can find the and on our website and recordings will be made available shortly. I am very happy to share that the Board is currently planning a return to an in-person Annual Meeting next year, so hopefully, Zoom meeting limits are a thing of the past. We are now looking forward to follow-up discussions with our shareholders regarding the meeting theme, “ensuring a thriving future,” and I am excited to continue the conversation.
Red Hen is a bakery located in Middlesex, VT, dedicated to bringing delicious artisanal breads to their local community. Sounds simple, right? But the reality involves so much more. Randy George and Liza Cain have delved into each aspect of their business with an enormous amount of care and integrity, from local agriculture to workers’ rights. As a result they’ve contributed a lot more than beautiful, nutritious food to our area. If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it should be that there is a lot of overlap between great food, a healthy environment, and a flourishing community.
I want to start this month by thanking those who are running for the Board of Directors. Core to our identity as a cooperative is the principle of democratic member control, so it is important that we have engagement from our shareholders that enable us to have meaningful elections. We are happy to share that we have seven candidates for five open positions this year each of whom provides our shareholders with different skills and perspectives to choose from. More information about candidates is available and voting is just a couple of weeks away. Our Annual Meeting is November 9, and I am excited to say that we already have over 130 shareholders registered to attend. Our total attendance last year was 160, and we are on track to exceed that number by a large margin. If you have not yet registered you can do so . We look forward to seeing you!
Jon and Lizzie Deloge’s interest in mushrooms started in an unusual way—not through foraging, eating, or from psychedelic experiences, but from dirt! A few years ago, through Jon’s study of composting, he came to think of fungi as powerful “commodities brokers of the soil”: they pull in minerals and other nutrients from the surrounding earth and make decisions about which nearby plants they’re sent to. The more he learned about these incredible life forms, the more intrigued he became, and his wife Lizzie shared his interest. With a baby in their future and a desire to homestead and live closer to the land, in 2020 they decided to transition away from Jon’s successful landscape design business in Cambridge, MA, and seek a new home in southern Vermont.
Fall is here, and our Annual Meeting is right around the corner! The theme for our meeting this year is “ensuring a thriving future for our Co-op,” and we have an engaging panel discussion planned, so if you are a shareholder remember to save the date for November 9th. Staying financially healthy is foundational to our longevity, of course, but we have many other things to consider as well. We exist to meet the collective needs of our shareholders. Ensuring a thriving future means that we understand how these collective needs may be evolving and that we develop plans to support them. The Brattleboro Food Co-op has an opportunity to meaningfully increase the value that we bring to shareholders and the impact we have on the community.
It’s always been a tough road for dairy farmers. Back in the days before the invention of things like cream separators and pasteurization, everything had to be done by hand, and a lot could go wrong. Milk would often spoil before it even reached customers, whether during the difficult process of separating the milk from the cream or the long drive to the railroad depot with horse and cart. And doing all of this alone made it even harder.
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.