Last week, our town of Richmond, along with several other small towns across the state of Vermont, flooded to historic levels and devastated the communities, homes, businesses and farms. Vermont is such a special place; the community is something all Vermonters cherish and it has been amazing to see the volunteers across the state help with cleanup in all the towns effected by the flood. Robby and I were away last week and have been watching from afar with sadness for our town and state.
One thing that I mention more to people from out of state than probably anything else when describing why I love living in Vermont is how much people buy local. We have so much access to local produce, even year round. I often pop into Jericho Settlers Farm (by often I mean almost daily because I'm mildly obsessed with them...) to grab arugula, local meat and in-season vegetables. They have an iPad to check yourself out and it's all done by honor system. I mention this because I think it's a testimant to how Vermonters live and how much trust there is in the community.
Vermont farms who were flooded are now in crisis because they lost most, if not all, of their harvest this year. We had made the Happy Holstein bottle as a special ode to Vermont with local artists, Always with Honor. Run by a husband and wife team (Elsa and Tyler), Always With Honor is an illustration and branding studio based in Panton, VT. We just restocked the bottles and to help support folks suffering from the floods, we are donating 100% of the profit from these bottles to New Farms for New Americans, a program through the Association for African's Living in Vermont (AALV). New Farms for New Americans provides land for refugee and immigrant families in Vermont to farm and during the flood, 100 families lost food for seven months. If you'd like to donate outside of the bottle, here's a link.
Farmers from New Farms for New Americans in previous harvest years.
Read below for an interview with Always with Honor about Vermont, the design of the bottle and riding bikes.
Can you tell us how you came up with the design for this bottle?
Tyler: There are so many great things about biking in Vermont, but in our humble opinion a roadside water break to say hello to the cows at pasture takes the cake. It’s those little moments that remind us how lucky we are to be able to ride these roads, as well as pass along a little gratitude to the lovely ladies responsible for the creemees that await us just beyond a few more hills.
What was the first thing you recall making/drawing/creating that made you think you wanted art/design to be part of your life?
T: As a kid I loved exploring the natural world and learning about its creatures. I would spend hours researching and drawing wild animals and their habitats, it made me feel closer to those animals I was so obsessed with. As I grew older my focus turned towards the NBA, bmx and skateboard culture, hardcore music, and I remember just creating a myriad of art that made me feel part of those communities. Design and illustration served as just one more avenue for me to connect deeper and participate in my passions and hobbies.
What is the most exciting way that cycling and art have come together in your life?
Elsa: Riding is a way to get in the headspace for inspiration- it helps clear the mind and work out ideas, so biking has become a big part of our creative process.
Tell us about your connection to cycling. Why is it a big part of your lifestyle?
E: Cycling has been a way to get outdoors, to connect with friends and explore new locations - we love that cycling makes you slow down and take in your surroundings in an intentional way and take notice of the environment and how it changes through the seasons.
How has art surprised you? What visual memory gets triggered when you think of Art?
T: I’ve been surprised at just how far reaching art really is compared to how I thought about it growing up. How you live your life can be a form of art, making dinner for friends, planting a garden, cracking a joke, mending a pair of jeans - it’s all art and not nearly as finite as we’re told to think. When I think of a visual memory of art it’s usually a small moment where I’m able to think intentionally and be present with whatever or whoever is in front of me.
Where are your bucket list rides and why?
E: I dream of bikepacking in my home country of Colombia, stopping for roadside empanadas and tinto (black coffee with sugar). Would love to ride in England in the summer taking in the countryside, gardens and stopping for pints in local pubs.
We wanted to make this bottle and homage to VT and you hit the task spot on. I couldn’t have imagined a better name than Happy Holsteins! What about VT inspires you and why did you pick it as your home?
T: Thank you for asking us to contribute, it was a joy! There’s a lot of pride that comes from growing up and living in Vermont. Having lived east, south, and west of here, there’s a specificity and dare I say loving stubbornness to both the landscape and people here. It took taking an almost twenty year break from the state to recognize all the things I couldn’t as an angsty and bored high schooler - the importance of knowing your neighbors, the lack of billboards, knowing exactly where you’re eggs come from, seeing hillsides that were covered in trees 20 years ago still blanketed in trees today. These might not sound like life-changing ideals but I’m telling you they are more important than even we realize.