Tag Archives: grocery

Bremerton to Get Organic, Local Grocer

Here’s a story I wrote Friday for Monday’s paper. You’ll see it elsewhere on Kitsapsun.com, 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 StartNow.org, 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.

Kitsap Food Co-op Hosts Public Meeting

I saw that Kitsap Food Co-op, group was hosting another public meeting about their efforts this Saturday (Feb. 21), and thought it would be a good time to catch up with how they’re doing.

The group has been working for more than a year to lay the groundwork for a community-supported and member-owned grocery store that would specialize in locally grown, natural and organic foods.

They’ve been fundraising and doing some basic market analysis since that time, and they are currently on the cusp of incorporating, said Laura Moynihan, one of the co-op organizers. Incorporation will allow them to start signing up members and collecting membership fees to help fund further progress.

They’ve decided memberships will be structured as an annual fee system —  as opposed to a large, one-time fee —  where members will get discounts and a profit refund, similar to the way REI sets up its member dividends.

The next step will be to do a feasibility study that will help them focus on where would be the smartest place to build, among other things.

“We’re still a ways off from having a physical building,” Moynihan said.

But it’s still a good time to try and start the co-op, despite the economic downturn, she said.

They may, for example, be able to take advantage of newly affordable real estate. And though the desire to save money may drive shoppers to discount grocers like Wal-Mart, having an organization that supports local foods in a down economy becomes additionally important, Moynihan said.

“When you shop at a food co-op, when you use local producers, farmers, craftspeople who shop local for feed and seed and other products,” she said. “That’s when the community really gets to hold on to its money” rather than having those dollars go to Arkansas or China.

Food Co-op members will talk more about the economy’s effect on the co-op at Saturday’s meeting.

The meeting will be from 3 to 5 p.m. at Seaside Church in Bremerton, near Evergreen Rotary Park. They’ll be talking about the economy as well as hold a silent auction for items, such as a quilt, free tree-trimming, haircut, yoga classes and other services.