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Monday, November 16, 2020

CO Cellars, ZAFA Wines Face Licensing Investigation

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 8:38 PM

A glass of natural wine at CO Cellars - SALLY POLLAK/FILE ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak/FIle ©️ Seven Days
  • A glass of natural wine at CO Cellars

The Vermont Division of Liquor Control executed two search warrants last Friday during a licensing investigation of CO Cellars, a Burlington fermentory and tasting room, and ZAFA Wines, a winery that shares CO Cellars' location in the Soda Plant building in the South End.

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Thursday, October 29, 2020

Healthy Living Market & Café Opens in Williston

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2020 at 7:00 AM

Healthy Living Market & Cafe in Williston - COURTESY OF HEALTHY LIVING
  • Courtesy of Healthy Living
  • Healthy Living Market & Cafe in Williston
Healthy Living Market & Café opens its second location in Chittenden County on Thursday, October 29, with a branch at 129 Market Street in Williston.

The new store is about half the size of the South Burlington location, or 18,000 square feet, according to Nina Lesser-Goldsmith, who owns the business with her mother, founder Katy Lesser, and brother, Eli Lesser-Goldsmith.  The Williston store offers the same product categories and departments as the original outlet, Nina Lesser-Goldsmith explained, but with a smaller selection of  items within the departments. The new store employs 65 people.

“We’ve always wanted to expand our footprint in our home community,” she said. “For a long time, we didn’t think we could make people happy with a store that was smaller than our first [one]. But smaller stores that support smaller communities are what people want.”

The café in the Williston store is the most beautiful and prominent aspect of the site, Lesser-Goldsmith noted.

Café service has been modified for COVID-19, with adaptations that include salads made-to-order by a staffer rather than as a self-service food bar. Seating will be available inside and outside when the mask mandate is no longer in effect, according to Lesser-Goldsmith.

“We can’t in good conscience allow people to unmask in the store and consume food” at a business that provides an essential service, she said.

Healthy Living is launching a prepared foods/deli/café program, HL Fresh, under the direction of chef Matt Jennings. Offerings will include meals that are ready to be cooked at home, meals ready to eat (without cooking), and rotating daily specials, Lesser-Goldsmith said.
From left: Nina Lesser-Goldsmith, Katy Lesser, Eli Lesser-Goldsmith at October 28 ribbon cutting - COURTESY OF HEALTHY LIVING
  • Courtesy of Healthy Living
  • From left: Nina Lesser-Goldsmith, Katy Lesser, Eli Lesser-Goldsmith at October 28 ribbon cutting
The opening of the Williston store comes after months of an "extremely busy” spell at the flagship South Burlington location, Lesser-Goldsmith said.

“People are really relying on grocery stores [during the pandemic], and we’re happy and proud to be able to serve so many people so well,” she added.

“It’s the hardest success I’ve ever had,” Lesser-Goldsmith continued. “My staff are absolutely heroes. They come to work every day. They’re brave. They face all kinds of people. They do it with a smile, and I could not be more grateful to them.”

Healthy Living in Williston is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. In addition to the two Vermont locations, the business that Lesser started in 1986 has a branch in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

"Vermont is our home and we love it here," Lesser-Goldsmith said.  "And we're so proud to create 65 new jobs in this community and serve a wider audience of customer."

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Monday, September 14, 2020

Burlington Farmers Market Announces Changes for Winter Season

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 4:19 PM

COVID-19 guidelines posted at the entrance to the first summer Burlington Farmers Market on June 6, 2020 - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • COVID-19 guidelines posted at the entrance to the first summer Burlington Farmers Market on June 6, 2020
The Burlington Farmers Market, whose summer schedule runs through Saturday, October 17, is planning for a “very different winter season” in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, market director Mieko Ozeki told Seven Days.

Given the market’s scale and the risk associated with large indoor gatherings, “An indoor market doesn’t make sense for us this year,” she said.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Vermont Foodbank Awarded $500,000 USDA Grant

Posted By on Tue, Aug 11, 2020 at 2:48 PM

Andrea Solazzo, Vermont Foodbank agriculture and community outreach manager, packs produce for food shelf delivery - COURTESY OF VERMONT FOODBANK
  • Courtesy of Vermont Foodbank
  • Andrea Solazzo, Vermont Foodbank agriculture and community outreach manager, packs produce for food shelf delivery
The Vermont Foodbank is the recipient of a $500,000 federal grant to “upgrade its Barre, Vt., facility with new equipment and infrastructure,” according to a press release from the United States Department of Agriculture, the agency that awarded the money.

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Two Burlington Breweries and Affiliated Restaurants Close Temporarily Over COVID-19 Concern

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 12:15 PM

Coney Island hot dogs and beer at Zero Gravity - FILE: SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Coney Island hot dogs and beer at Zero Gravity
Updated, July 20, 5 p.m. 

Foam Brewers and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, as well as their respective affiliated restaurants Deep City and the Great Northern, all of which shut down Thursday due to a staff member's possible exposure to the coronavirus, announced Monday on social media that COVID-19 tests have come back negative.

The breweries and restaurants were closed temporarily while awaiting the results of testing.  Foam Brewers  announced on Facebook that it will open Monday, July 20, at 5 p.m. Zero Gravity announced on Facebook that it will  be back open Tuesday, July 21, with its "regularly scheduled programming."

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Magic Hat Brewing Is Leaving Vermont; Zero Gravity Will Expand

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 5:47 PM

The Magic Hat taproom - FILE: SALLY POLLAK
  • File: Sally Pollak
  • The Magic Hat taproom
One of Vermont’s oldest craft breweries is leaving the state.

Magic Hat Brewing will shift production from its South Burlington digs to a Rochester, N.Y., brewery owned by its parent company, FIFCO USA. As part of the move, nearby Zero Gravity Craft Brewery will buy Magic Hat’s equipment and take over its leased space on Bartlett Bay Road.

Magic Hat’s 43 brewing and operations employees in Vermont will lose their jobs but will be considered for open positions with Zero Gravity, FIFCO said in a press release Tuesday. The deal is expected to close on July 1.

“With the capabilities and capacity of our new brewery and the evolution of Magic Hat, moving the production to Rochester provided the best long term opportunity,” FIFCO CEO Rich Andrews said in a statement. “We have been brewing a portion of Magic Hat in Rochester for nearly a decade. Having one brewery with new equipment, creates consistent, high quality beer that our Magic Hat consumers have come to expect.”

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Little Free Pantries Pop Up in Burlington Neighborhoods

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2020 at 12:20 PM

A little free pantry on Loomis Street in Burlington - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • A little free pantry on Loomis Street in Burlington
On upper Loomis Street in Burlington, in front of a big, pink-flowering rhododendron, is a little food pantry stocked with spaghetti sauce, soup, pasta, canned chili, baby food, peanut butter, chocolate almond milk, and other nonperishable items.

A sign on the front-yard food stand reads: "Little Free Pantry / Take what you need. Share when you can."

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Burlington Street Becomes Food Distribution Site

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2020 at 3:40 PM

A guardsman loading food into a pickup truck Tuesday in Burlington - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • A guardsman loading food into a pickup truck Tuesday in Burlington
A Burlington builder flashed a V sign out the window of his Ram 2500 as he steered his pickup under an overpass on the Beltline on Tuesday morning. His victory was being No. 1 in a long  line of cars at a food distribution site in Burlington’s New North End.

The man, who declined to give his name, arrived at 4:30 in the morning, before the sun came up. Three lanes of cars fanned out behind him, filled with Vermonters waiting in the sunshine to receive cases of government-supplied food.

“There’s uncertainty, and we don’t know how long this will go on,” said the man, a father of four, adding that his work is slow. “I’m here for basic needs.”
The food giveaway in Burlington, the first in Vermont’s largest city, was one of several such events that have been held around the state in the past month.

Organized by the Vermont Foodbank in collaboration with the Vermont National Guard and the state’s Emergency Operations Center, the distributions aim to address a steep rise in food insecurity due to job losses and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Feeding America, a national hunger-relief group, estimates the number of food-insecure people in Vermont is up by 46 percent, and the number of food-insecure children is up 60 percent, according to the Vermont Foodbank.

In Burlington, roughly 550 cars moved through the line at a rate of about 120 cars an hour, according to organizers. Some people got food for themselves and family members. Others came to assist people who don’t have cars or were otherwise unable to access the food.

A Colchester woman who lost her job in the registration department at the University of Vermont Medical Center said it was the first time she has needed help getting food.

“I don’t get any other assistance,” the 56-year-old said. “So this helps.”

Patricia Mallette, 66, traveled from North Clarendon with her 16-week-old puppy, Molly. The 70-mile trip was minor compared with the 1,475 miles she drove each way, two weeks ago, to pick up her dog.

Patricia Mallette of North Clarendon and her puppy, Molly - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Patricia Mallette of North Clarendon and her puppy, Molly
“We are food short,” Mallette said. “My stepdaughter hasn’t gotten unemployment [benefits] in eight weeks, and they are starving.”

A Shelburne mother of three, driving a Volvo station wagon, arrived at the thoroughfare at 5 a.m. Her family is in the construction business and is experiencing “lack of work and lack of income,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.

The help with food is "huge" and necessary, she said, but the time spent waiting in line could be used to look for work.

Samuel Dingba, 25, youth program coordinator for AALV, drove the New Farms for New Americans van to the Beltline site. Originally from Cameroon, Dingba said he was picking up food for 20 families that don’t have cars.

“It makes me happy to be able to help other families,” Dingba said.
Samuel Dingba - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Samuel Dingba
Also collecting on behalf of other people was Steve Hamlin, president of the board of North Avenue Co-op. Hamlin, 62, said he hoped to get food for nine families but wasn’t certain he’d be allotted that much.

“There’s a lot of people in there that are struggling to make their bills, including lot rent,” Hamlin said of residents at the mobile home park.  “As the president, I go out and do everything I can to help them."

He’s a security guard who’d been working 60 to 80 hours a week, but, with events canceled, his work is down to about 30 hours a week, Hamlin said.

Cars lined up for food Tuesday on the Beltline in Burlington - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Cars lined up for food Tuesday on the Beltline in Burlington
The food distributed Tuesday included 1,000 Farmers to Families kits, according to Nicole Whalen, spokesperson for the Vermont Foodbank. Paid for by the USDA and put together by the Abbey Group of Enosburg  Falls, each box contains 15 to 25 pounds of produce, 20 pounds of chicken and 7.5 pounds of dairy products, according to Whalen.

In addition, 1,930 boxes of nonperishable food, supplied by FEMA and totaling about 28,800 meals, were distributed.

One man who came for food, Fred Jackson of Burlington, rode in a pickup truck with a U.S. flag sticking up from the hood.  A onetime airplane mechanic, Jackson said he sometimes gets groceries at Feeding Chittenden in Burlington.

“I heard about this, and I’m needy for food,” Jackson, 62, said. “I think they’re doing the best they can do.”

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Skinny Pancake's ShiftMeals Launches Farm Program

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2020 at 7:15 AM

Tommy Thompson Community Garden in Burlington - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Tommy Thompson Community Garden in Burlington
ShiftMeals, the hunger-relief  initiative started by Skinny Pancake restaurants to provide free meals to unemployed restaurant workers, musicians, gig workers and others, is establishing an agricultural component, the organization announced this week. The endeavor,  ShiftMeals GrowTeam, is part of the group’s effort to address the rise in food insecurity from the economic impact of the coronavirus.

ShiftMeals GrowTeam will provide laid-off cooks, servers and other hospitality workers access to farms and the means to grow their own food and learn about agriculture.  Through partnerships with gardens and farms in Burlington, Richmond and Marshfield, ShiftMeals GrowTeam will build so-called Victory Farms at which people can cultivate their own food.

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Friday, April 24, 2020

State Issues Guidance for Farmers Markets to Open May 1

Posted By on Fri, Apr 24, 2020 at 8:20 PM

Does' Leap Farm at the 2019 Burlington Farmers Market - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Does' Leap Farm at the 2019 Burlington Farmers Market
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets issued detailed guidance for the state's farmers markets on Friday, allowing them to open May 1. They were previously shuttered under Gov. Phil Scott's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.

In a press conference earlier in the day, Scott emphasized that the guidance would "focus on food distribution, not a social gathering."

Market managers, advisory boards and farmers have anxiously awaited guidelines from the state on how they can adapt their operations for the summer season. Originally expected last Friday, today's guidance specifies general operations procedures, social distancing requirements, proper cleaning and sanitary protocols, and increased communication strategies that markets must follow while the stay-at-home order remains in effect.

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