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Brattleboro Food Co-op Focus on: Produce Department PDF Print E-mail

by Andee Bingham
April 2012

From the wall of dewy kales, to the crates of blushing local apples, the woven baskets hanging from the ceiling, and the bouquets of cut flowers, the Produce Department may be the most visually striking section of the Co-op. Many dedicated hands work to stock, clean, and cull the shelves and bins to provide you with the freshest produce possible. “[It’s rewarding] when you work on an area at length, and it is recognized by our customers,” says Cheryl Ann, who has worked at the 
Co-op for nine years.

John Truncale has worked at the Co-op for 17 years, and has been the Produce manager for the past five. “The local movement has grown dramatically over the past several years,” he says, and that is where he keeps his focus. When choosing what produce to buy, he looks first at what he can get from a twenty-mile radius, and spirals out from there, staying as close to home as possible. “I do like to support the smaller farms,” John says. “The more local the better.” He knows that a lot of small farms can’t provide the large amount of product that we need, so he is happy to buy lesser amounts of product from several small farms. In the warmer months, the Produce Department works with nearly 50 local vendors. The colder months shrink that number to a still admirable 11-15. He enjoys seeing the local vendors and talking to them about their crops, and appreciates being able to relate to them on a more personal level. He talks even more fondly of his staff. “They’re a good group of people,” he says. “I feel like they are my family.”
Tanna has been the Floral buyer for the past six years and has worked hard to build it into the lush and blossoming nook it is today. “My focus,” she says, “is on the highest quality product available that [also] has standards in place for the workers. That involves buying Fair Trade fresh cut flowers or bouquets that are certified by Veriflora.” Tanna is also responsible for the herb and vegetable starts you will begin seeing soon in displays outside the Co-op. “It’s all about reliability and quality when it comes to starts. We want people to have a wonderful experience with the herb, vegetable, and flower starts from our local vendors,” she says. “It’s really rewarding to see how happy plants can make people.”

The Produce staff is looking forward to the move into the new store, where they will have more outside product displays in the warmer months, lots of natural light provided by windows and skylights, and a layout that will improve the flow of traffic. “We will continue to provide local, organic, and quality fruits and vegetables,” says John, and strive to be “the best produce market in town.”