ADAMANT — The Adamant Cooperative Store, Inc., the nation’s oldest, continuously operating food cooperative, celebrated its 80th birthday August 1.
The co-op is marking its 80th anniversary with the publication of The Adamant Co-op Cookbook, a love letter to the rural community that has supported the Co-op’s operation since the Great Depression. The cookbook combines recipes, vignettes of life in a small Vermont village and original artwork by central Vermont artist Janet Macleod, who has her studio above the store.
Macleod’s lively, impressionistic works are full of the pleasure and energy of cooking and eating. Oils, watercolors and line drawings — delicate fiddleheads, robust cabbages, aproned cooks aged four to 84, diners in vintage hats and life vests passing dishes at a floating potluck dinner (the “Adamant Dinner Cruise”) — depict a community for whom the enjoyment and celebration of food is central.
If the book’s artwork portrays a common passion, its recipes and poetic musings are as varied and quirky as the local residents who contributed them. Short essays reflect on hunting wild chanterelles, the promiscuity of recipe sharing, the ubiquity of cats warming by the wood stove in winter. Recipes range from mac and cheese with bacon to red flannel hash to clafoutis.
The Adamant Cooperative was formed on August 1, 1935 when 39 residents purchased $5 shares in the venture. The original storefront is the same building where the Adamant Co-op is housed today. The store thrived, and its success inspired community members to take up similar social/economic ventures. They formed the Washington Electric Cooperative (which now serves over 10,000 members) in 1939, and the Adamant Credit Union in 1942.
Currently, the Co-op is kept alive and well by a multitude of creative fund raising activities carried out by a bevy of community volunteers, including the annual Black Fly Festival in May and the chocolate-laden Decadent Desserts and Wine Tasting around Valentine’s Day.