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.
Pete Johnson first identified his love for farming when he grew and sold pumpkins as a child with his siblings in the Pacific Northwest. The pumpkins were gorgeous and it was a financially successful business. Flash forward to the mid-1990s, when Pete Johnson was about to graduate from Middlebury College and, for his senior thesis, he built a solar greenhouse on campus. This project was the result of his fascination with winter growing and the idea that plastic or glass structures could positively impact the growth of vegetables in the extreme winter temperatures of Vermont.
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!
The Miller family’s dairy farming tradition began in southern Vermont in the 1800s. Then in 1916, Arthur Lyman Miller was seeking a larger plot of land and purchased 300 acres in Vernon. The family and their herd of Holstein cows migrated to Vernon and began to ramp up their farming capabilities. Since the farm’s inception in 1887, they have always raised Holstein cows, making them one of the country’s oldest registered herds. Now, in 2021, they raise over 300 total cows, including young ones and a bull, and they milk close to 190 on a daily basis.
Sorbet dates back hundreds of years and is one of the earliest frozen treats. The original sorbet was created with either ice or snow and flavored with honey, fruit, or wine. The ancient Greeks and Romans and folks in the Middle East were big fans. The earliest written recipe for sorbet traces back to the 1600s in Italy. One thing we can discern from the history books is that sorbet was created many years before its dairy-filled friend, ice cream. Nowadays sorbet continues its long tradition as a fruit- and ice-based treat that, for many, is appealing because it is free of fat and cholesterol.
Darren and Sean Pierce grew up in Amherst, MA, and both attended Springfield College. They loved their upbringing in Western Mass filled with hobbies, playing sports, and attending concerts. After completing their degrees at Springfield College they both worked in the restaurant industry, most often as waiters and bartenders. Darren moved to San Francisco in the early 1990’s and while working as a bartender he started to learn about the specialty coffee movement, from both creating delicious offerings on an espresso machine and conversations with one of his regular customers.
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.
An inspirational story is brewing in Brattleboro, VT, from Healing From Foods, a company that centers around sustainable products and ideas rooted in the mantra “food is medicine.” Healing From Foods imports, markets, and sells Ojoche Tostado, a superfood coffee alternative sourced from women’s collectives in rural Nicaragua.
Masks. They are the new fad, the new look of 2020, and have brought many creative people to the forefront of society, sewing together a staple of our daily fashion. With that in mind, Cindy in our Housewares department has selected four seamstresses who are now producing and selling masks here at the Co-op. The material patterns consist of everything from animals to food to flashy colors, with the common idea to protect us from the current pandemic. I was inspired by Cindy’s suggestion to feature four different folks who sew masks to sell at the Co-op as our Producers of the Month. Thus, I felt it best to let them share a bit about themselves from their perspective in a question-and-answer style format, unedited and directly to you our loyal Co-op customers. A big thanks to them for their countless hours of sewing to help keep our community safe. So, without further ado, Anna, Leslie, Linda, and Julia will share a bit about themselves and why they started creating masks.
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.