As the Board and I have shared over the past few months, we are exploring additional ways that our Co-op can help address income disparity in our community. As our Ends state, we exist to meet our shareholders’ collective need for reasonably priced food and products with an emphasis on healthy, locally grown, organic, and fairly traded goods. Essential to this mission is to be able to provide these healthy alternatives to as many people as possible. We certainly do this in quite a few ways today. We offer, among other things, value brands and lines such as Field Day and Co+op Basics, an extensive bulk department, and a number of discount programs. These discount programs are where I would like to focus in this article.
Food For Thought
Artisan Beverage Cooperative, Makers of Katalyst Kombucha and Ginger Libation
Artisan Beverage Cooperative, a worker-owned co-op located in Greenfield, MA, brews the irresistible Katalyst Kombucha and the remarkable Ginger Libation. We recently interviewed Dave and Jon, two of their five worker-owners, and got the lowdown on the current state of the kombucha industry, the challenges of bringing new probiotic life into the world, and the science of brewing.
In the past several updates Jerelyn and I have shared that the Board is currently reviewing our Ends policies through the lens of two issues – income disparity and climate change. I wanted to take a step back and share why this is so important to me as General Manager.
Ends are the desired results or outcomes that the Co-op is working towards. Ends are typically higher level, long-term, and are often related to the mission and purpose of the organization.
Rhapsody Natural Foods
Elysha and Sjon Welters reside on a beautiful homestead way up in northern Vermont, along with their business, Rhapsody Natural Foods. They’re living out their vision of creating foods that nourish themselves, their family, their community, and the Earth. The care and attention they give to their work comes through in the rich flavors and tender textures of all their products. Try any of them for yourself, and you’ll understand: Rhapsody foods are on another level.
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
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 Baking Co.
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.
Cabot Creamery Co-operative
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.