Stonewall Farm is a historic farm located in Keene, NH. It was founded over 300 years ago and has been a working dairy farm for over 200 years. In recent years it has evolved into a nonprofit working organic dairy and crop farm supported by philanthropic donations. From protecting pollinators, to growing organic food, to implementing amazing methods of regenerative agriculture, they are focusing on mitigating the effects of climate change. Stonewall Farm offers the southeast corner of New England farm education programs for adults and children, organic dairy products, a gorgeous event venue, and fresh fruits and vegetables that are sold at local retailers such as our Brattleboro Food Co-op. With a team of six full-time staff and a board of directors, they are blazing a trail within our region.
On a beautiful July afternoon, Jeff, the Beer and Wine Manager, and myself (Jon, Manager of Marketing and Community Outreach) traveled to Waitsfield, VT for an inside look at Lawson’s Finest Liquids’ new brewery, taproom, and retail store. Upon arrival we were received with a warm welcome from Chuck Derrick and TJ Greenwood…and then the adventure began. When you walk through the stunning front doors of the taproom, you are greeted by an array of smiling faces, amazing post-and-beam woodwork, and the smells of fresh beer and locally sourced food. On our tour of the facilities it was clear that the team at Lawson’s is a lively bunch, filled with a passion and deep commitment for brewing absolutely delicious beer.
Many of our shoppers have enjoyed Vermont Gelato for years but may not know that it has new owners. Mike and Jess Kull recently purchased the company in the fall of 2018. Since then they have worked hard to continue the consistency and delicious flavors one has come to expect over the years. Since acquiring Vermont Gelato they have taken pride in offering the finest gelato around while building on this wonderful product with new flavors and offerings, wider distribution, and a focus on customer service.
Editor’s note: This March we successfully completed our first Annual Vermont Cheese Madness event. A delicious 32 Vermont cheeses from 26 different cheesemakers were sampled throughout the month. We presented eight categories for the bracket: cheddar, gouda, bloomy, blue, washed, alpine, tomme, and goat. Each day we offered two cheeses for customers and staff to sample and then vote The prize: a feature as our June Producer of the Month. On March 31st, Jasper Hill Farm’s Alpha Tolman was declared the overall winner. And so, Cheese manager Joe and Marketing manager Jon visited Jasper Hill last month to bring you this feature article. Enjoy, and thanks to all who voted!
I always find it interesting when hippies become entrepreneurs. Not that Allie Dercoli, owner and operator of FinAllie Ferments, is necessarily a hippie…she’s more like a combination of itinerant farmer, artist, electrician, teacher, and finally, chef, with a refined palate, innate resourcefulness, and a penchant for smelly stuff – which is an important attribute for someone devoted to crafting this delightfully pungent food. When she settled in Vermont in 2014, she wasn’t looking to start a business—she was looking for sustainable community and farming. FinAllie Ferments is simply the result of meeting the demand that naturally arose from her delicious supply of amazing kimchi and kraut.
Peter and Virginia Vogel founded Back Roads Granola with the goal of creating the best granola you have ever tasted. They have been entrepreneurs in one form or another for much of their lives, and in many ways their success story starts with Virginia and Peter’s skills: Virginia’s business savvy and sales and marketing experience, combined with her commitment to impeccable customer service, has led their strategy, branding, and sales approach; she and her team build relationships with every one of their current buyers, and are quick to respond on every level to satisfy their customer base.
As humans we crave connection, to build relationships that nourish us and those around us. At Orchard Hill Breadworks, Noah started baking bread in 1997 with this as a source of inspiration. Since then he has built a business that strives to be integrated into the community, fulfilling the needs of those around him in a way that calls back to the days of villages inhabited by people who, with a variety of skills and trades, were able to sustain themselves and each other through cooperation.
Cajeta. A time-honored tradition in Mexico. It is an irresistible caramel sauce made with fresh goat’s milk and pure sweeteners cooked in copper kettles. And it’s a labor of love, as it takes much time and precision to make this concoction. Since 2006, the family that owns and operates Fat Toad Farm has been offering a Vermont rendition of cajeta from their farm in Brookfield, VT. In fact, it all started when their daughter Josey returned from Mexico with this recipe, knowing they had lots of extra goat’s milk that could be made into this delectable dessert.
As a community-owned cooperative, our Ends Policies act as a guiding light for our values, purpose and mission. Ends Policy #6 states that “The BFC exists to meet its shareholders collective needs for: relevant information about food and related products, the environment, and the Cooperative Values and Principles.” In this edition of Food for Thought we’ll be sharing what we’ve learned about the hemp industry in Vermont from historical research, Vermont law, interviews with staff, Vermont-based CBD producers, and particularly our January Producer of the Month, Bravo Botanicals.
Brag Bags- The story of Brag Bags began when Kathleen Kennedy was a child and witnessed her mother’s work as an accomplished seamstress. Crafting gorgeous dresses, hemming pants, and making bags, her mother was very handy with a sewing machine and a true artist. She could walk into a store, see a lovely dress, and then head home and re-create it from her memory and her creative passion. Being exposed to this artistic energy was infectious, and as Kathleen grew from a child to a teenager, she began to pick up a love for drawing and painting, which led to a degree in art from SUNY New Paltz. Throughout her life art has always been a part of her work, from making jewelry and designing gardens to creating floral arrangements, and now with Brag Bags, her line of unique, hand-made purses and totes that we sell here at the Co-op.
November is a time for delicious food, for giving thanks and for enjoying loved ones. Here at the Co-op we are excited for November because it means we get to be a part of supporting your holiday meals with friends and family. Whether it be a fresh turkey from Stonewood Farms, bulk flour from King Arthur Flour, or sweet potatoes from Laughing Child Farm, we are excited to help make your holidays special. While we know many people love to cook their own recipes from scratch and take deep pride in a Thanksgiving meal, we are experiencing an increase in demand for conveniently prepared foods ready to eat.
Every October, cooperatively-owned businesses around the world celebrate National Cooperative Month. No matter what type of co-op it is—whether it’s an electrical utility, credit union, or food cooperative like our own BFC, it is our shared values and principles that steer our businesses forward, and this is the month to share our successes! Look for signs calling out cooperative food companies, follow us on Facebook for fun facts, and view our website events calendar to see our scheduled tastings and demos featuring cooperative companies. And in this month’s Food for Thought, we are taking the opportunity to share the story of one cooperatively-owned business that is locally owned…and quite possibly chilling in your fridge.