I used to dislike apples when I was a kid, but then I tried heirloom apples from Scott Farm Orchard, and I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t like apples, I just wasn’t eating the right ones! Have you ever tasted an Ashmead’s Kernel, a Pitmaston Pineapple, a Knobbed Russet? How about a Reine des Reinettes? With their strange names and crowd-pleasing flavors, these historic gems (heirloom means they’re over 100 years old) are a world away from the mass market fruits trucked in from Washington State.
Beer brewing and its recipes were first noted on scrolls dating as far back as 5000 BC. The process and flavors progressed during the Middle Ages throughout Europe, the Middle East and Asia up to the present day. From the ancient Egyptians to medieval monks and through U.S. Prohibition, beer has long been revered as a delicious and refreshing beverage.
The dairy industry in Vermont is a true economic, agricultural and land management force. Yes, that’s right the dairy industry employs thousands of people, generates billions of dollars in revenue and manages nearly 80% of Vermont’s farmland. The Strafford Organic Creamery, on Rockbottom Farm in Strafford, Vermont, is a key contributor to this industry. Owners Earl Ransom and Amy Huyffer manage over 1,000 acres of land and make some of the highest quality organic milk and ice cream in our state. They milk seventy Guernsey cows and take deep pride in operating an organic, pesticide- and chemical-free farm.
Hanna Jenkins’ spiritual connection to flowers originates from her experiences with the bookends of life. Through the birth of her son and the death of her mom, flowers companioned her with comfort, solace, levity and inspiration. The establishment of Tapalou Guilds, her family’s farm, gave her the chance to truly understand that flowers can provide deep support and how important it was for her to try and spread that joy through her work. As their website states, “Tapalou Guilds is a family-owned and -operated, mission-driven flower farm in Guilford, VT. Our mission strives to evoke connection, healing, celebration and awareness, through flowers.”
I had to do my research for this month’s Producer of the Month, Badger Balm, at a distance, but the power of this company to inspire and connect came through nonetheless. I had a great phone conversation with Bill Whyte, Badger’s founder; received eloquent answers from other members of the family leadership team via email; and found a treasure trove of information and inspiration on the Badger Balm website—I daresay Badger is the perfect Producer of the Month to feature during a global pandemic. I’ve learned that this local company, based in Gilsum, NH, is helping lead the way internationally towards a better, kinder economy, one that gives back to the earth, builds connections and cooperation, and redefines success for the 21st century.
The origins of the fermented beverage kombucha date back a few thousand years to where it was first consumed in China, Russia, and Europe. Today it is a drink that is either loved or loathed. Some say it tastes too much like vinegar, others love the sparkling flavor that is often sweetened with fruit juice. The reality is that kombucha’s popularity is spreading and it can now be found in almost every grocery store, including the Co-op. CEO and Founder of Aqua ViTea Jeff Weaber fell in love with and perfected this nourishing beverage while he was a home brewer, then launched the Vermont kombucha company called Aqua ViTea, and the success of their kombucha has taken off as the company has utilized both ancient tradition and modern technology to create a unique and sparkling beverage offering.
My visit to Global Village Cuisine was filled with warmth, delicious aromas, and enriching conversation. Co-founders Damaris and Mel Hall are genuine and authentic people that were as curious about me as I was about them. They both have smiles that bring delight to those around them and their food is impeccably crafted and infused with that joy. In fact, Global Village Cuisine creates some of the best food you will ever taste with authentic African inspired, ready-to-eat meals and samosas. Their meals are free of all eight allergens, mostly vegan with the exception of a few dishes that contain chicken and beef, and accompanied by delicious spice and herb flavors instead of over-salting. They have hand-crafted frozen food fit for anyone’s needs and have time-tested their recipes over many years of serving food at festivals, catering, and owning a restaurant. Their primary focus is to shift the perception that frozen food is only salty TV dinners, when in fact it can be highly nutritious food that makes dinner preparation simple. By aiming to craft food fit for every type of diet they have dreams to go national, and with that financial success they plan to make social impacts that will stretch beyond the dinner table.
When visiting local producers around Vermont and beyond I often come across two attributes of the people who run these businesses. First, an unbelievable thirst for entrepreneurship and risk-taking that is exciting and inevitably drives the business to success. Second, an incredible product with unique qualities that customers love. Small Batch Organics in Manchester, VT is no exception and offers excellent chocolate granola bark and granola. We are pleased to share the story of this quickly growing business in our February edition of Food for Thought.
After a holiday season filled with abundance and out of the ordinary consumption, some folks turn to the New Year as a way to reset the body. New habits, food choices, recipes, supplements and exercise can support a New Year’s Resolution regimen built on healthy choices. As a Co-op we have always focused our January edition of Food for Thought on a local producer offering a product that could support your health. This month we will share the story of Suzanna Kamphuis of Keene, NH and her supplement called TotumVos (means “Totally You” in Latin) which is a delicious collagen-based supplement.
Over recent months we have received feedback from shoppers that they would like us to offer more vegan baked goods. While we do offer a few items, such as our vegan carrot cake, a full line of products has been hard to source. Recently our Food Services manager, Dawn, stopped in at the Brattleboro Farmers’ Market and recognized Kelsey at Hidden Bean Bakeshop from when she did her Shareholder volunteer hours in the commissary kitchen. Dawn tried a few different baked goods of Kelsey’s that day and was immediately impressed. Over the past few weeks, Dawn has been working closely with Kelsey to determine which items would be a good fit at the Co-op. We are pleased that starting in December we will offer many Hidden Bean Bakeshop products, from breads to cookies to brownies to whoopie pies—all featuring beans. All selections are gluten free and dairy free, many are vegan, and all contain less sugar than your average baked good.
Here at the Brattleboro Food Co-op autumn brings reflection. Reflection on how fortunate we are to work at a responsible and community-owned business. To provide deep gratitude to our earth for the bounty of food that we receive and sell each and every day. These times of gratitude are ever-present when we take trips across New England to visit our local farmers, producers, and purveyors. This time around it took Jon in Marketing and Phil in Meat/Seafood to Misty Knoll Farms in New Haven, VT. The fall colors were beginning to boom as they drove highway and back roads to the farm. Every turn greeted them 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. Upon arrival Rob Litch of Misty Knoll Farms was the tour guide to share about the history, practices, and philosophy that he and his partner John Palmer take in humanely raising turkeys and chickens.
Approximately 80% of open land in Vermont is managed by dairy farmers which are predominantly small family owned farms. Leon, Linda and Abbie Corse manage 375 acres in Whitingham and Wilmington, VT with many of those acres being open pasture for their cows. They are the 5th and 6th generation in their family to operate this dairy farm. This family is tremendously important to our region as dairy farming in Vermont protects and maintains our precious open land that otherwise would grow to forest or be turned into real estate. Additionally, it is a robust economic driver largely due to their large scale purchasing of farm supplies from machinery to building materials to grain. The Corse Farm Dairy became certified organic through Vermont Organic Farmers in 2008 and began shipping milk to CROPP cooperative/Organic Valley since then; they are among the 2,000 or so farmers nationally that own the cooperative. A purchase of an Organic Valley product is a purchase for the Corse family. Organic Valley functions within a deeply regionalized product system; when you purchase Organic Valley fluid milk you are buying their product. Without their transition to organic and to farmer-owners of Organic Valley, the Corses have no doubt their farm would have gone out of business. October is National Co-op Month and we are proud as a food co-op to share one family story of dairy farming and how the cooperative model has supported their continued success.