We love carrying products from other co-ops. Not only does this support co-op producers who share our values, but buying direct eliminates intermediaries, enabling us to pay a fair price and still offer the products to customers affordably. One of our main co-op partners is the Cabot Creamery.
Cabot Creamery is a cooperative owned by 1,200 family dairy farmers in New England and New York. It began in 1919, when a group of dairy farmers near Cabot, Vermont, joined forces to turn their extra milk into butter and to sell it throughout New England. Today, the co-op manages four plants that turn the farmers’ fresh milk into butter, cheese, and the other dairy products. All profits are paid back to the farmer-owners, who elect the co-op Board of Directors.
Cabot offsets all its butter churning with renewable energy produced at Barstow’s Longview Farm. Grocery store food waste is converted to energy in an anaerobic digester!
The co-op supports participation in the National Dairy FARM Program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management), which provides guidelines for animal welfare and periodic farm inspections, including some by third party certifiers. Cabot farm families have been awarded the New England Green Pastures Award 83 times. The award acknowledges environmental practices, contributions to agriculture and the local community, and overall excellence in farm management practices.
A “Dairy” Good Co-op
Cabot Creamery is not just any old dairy. In the 1980s, Cabot began entering cheese competitions, and in 1989 they won first place in the cheddar category at the US Championship Cheese Contest. Since then, they’ve continued to enter national and international competitions. Their cheddar has won every major taste award, including the world’s best cheddar. Recent  awards include best of class at the World Championship Cheese Contest for their plain Greek yogurt and their sharp cheddar.
Over the years, we’ve added a lot of Cabot products to our shelves: a variety of cheeses including aged waxed bricks, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, sour cream, butter, canned whipped cream, and cream cheese. Our most popular sliced deli cheeses are now Cabot cheeses, a change that enabled us to lower the prices. We’ve also begun using Cabot products “behind the scenes” in products we produce in our stores and at our Food House. The wide use of Cabot products throughout our stores makes ordering easier, because we can place large orders more regularly.
Co-op and Community
Cabot Creamery is “all about community and cooperatives.” Cabot encourages farmers and customers to volunteer by offering monthly prizes and annual grand prizes, including a cruise hosted by its farmers. They run the Reward Volunteers website (http://www.rewardvolunteers.coop/), where individuals can log their volunteer hours and share them on social media, to encourage friends to volunteer and to make volunteering even more fun. More time spent volunteering and more shares increase the chances of the person or organization winning cash or prizes. There’s also a listing of organizations seeking volunteers.
Cabot partners with co-op groups to spread the word about co-ops, particularly among young people. Cabot co-sponsored the “Co-ops for Community” Girl Scout Patch booklet, which includes activities that teach about how co-ops contribute to communities and about how to be a leader and form your own co-op. Cabot also launched the Cooperative Fund of New England’s Cooperative Capital Fund, which funds co-op development.