Bremerton to Get Organic, Local Grocer

Here’s a story I wrote Friday for Monday’s paper. You’ll see it elsewhere on, but I wanted to share it here too:

Even after the farmers-market tents have been folded up for the season, locally grown and made food will still be available in Bremerton.

Members of the newly formed FreshLocal nonprofit corporation envision a store that sells locally produced goods. It will have an open floor plan and engage in environmentally friendly practices, like favoring bulk goods over prepackaged goods and using energy-efficient appliances, heating and lighting.

“We’re doing everything we can to have a small carbon footprint and be part of the community,” said Jean Schanen of FreshLocal.

FreshLocal has all but signed a lease at 540 Fourth Street, a downtown building owned by Diamond Parking. Floor work and painting needs to be done, and a freezer, walk-in cooler and other equipment needs to be installed.

Schanen said she hopes to open the store within weeks.

She started ordering merchandise last month, storing it in her home until the shop is ready. Pounds of grain is on its way from Winthrop in Central Washington in anticipation of the store’s opening.

Schanen has long been involved in local food. She’s active with, a Bremerton group that encourages homeowners to rip out their ornamental grass and shrubs and grow an edible garden.

“Right now, local food is about 2 percent of our food supply in Bremerton. It’s just idiotically small, but people want it so badly,” she said.

FreshLocal is not connected with Kitsap Food Co-Op, which also is working to bring a store with local foods to Kitsap County, though “we certainly support them,” Schanen said.

“I think there’s plenty of room for more than one store selling local food in Kitsap,” she said.

FreshLocal will sell locally grown and raised produce, dairy, honey, meat and other products.

Schanen has busily been talking with local bakers and other food makers. They’ve also talked with Bremerton’s Coffee Oasis about selling the locally roasted beans.

Members also have talked with nearby Evergreen Kitchen about renting space to produce some foods there.

FreshLocal plans to bring in some organic bulk products and a few environmentally friendly cleaning products, such as locally made soap and biodegradable laundry detergent.

“We’re not going to try to compete with Safeway,” Schanen said. “We’re going into try to offer things you can’t get everywhere else.”

A few local farmers, such as Pheasant Field Farms in Silverdale and Harlow Gardens in Bremerton, have already sown winter crops in preparation for the store’s opening.

The idea for the store went too fast for some to put in winter crops.

“We expect to have lots more farmers involved before spring,” Schanen said.