Locally grown food the focus at new Downtown Staunton store
The Store is a collaboration between Grains of Sense Coffees and Teas and Nu-Beginning Farm. They have been open since December, but will host their Grand Opening on Saturday, Feb. 2, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. with face-painting and door prizes.
After becoming co-vendors at the Staunton Farmers Market, Tom and Kathryn Hayman of Grains of Sense Coffee and Teas moved quickly into a friendship with John and Stella Matheny of Nu-Beginning Farm that evolved into a business partnership. The Store, the retail outlet for their two businesses, is founded on the concept of providing a small grocery store experience where they offer a bit of most everything. It is clear that they are striving to create an atmosphere harkening to simpler times as a place to gather as well as shop.
The front of the store offers seating with a clear view of the Matheny’s produce and the Hayman’s small batch coffee roasting operation. Along one wall customers find Virginia’s Finest Certified jams and pickles, homemade breads, and refrigerated goods. Opposite that one discovers an opportunity to watch Tom roast his small batch coffee while grabbing a cup of coffee or hand-blended tea to enjoy. Bags of coffee and boxes of tea are available to take home.
The Store will offer a filling station and home equipment for Water Works – sun filtered, pure water free of trace elements, Tom tells us as he takes a break from roasting. From this new location, he has an increased capacity to provide his coffees to area restaurants and retail locations. The Hayman’s coffees are hand-roasted, Fair Trade Certified, Rain Forest Alliance Certified and/or sustainably grown beans that also boast a Virginia’s Finest Certification.
While on the topic of certification, Tom and John discuss their decision to move away from the organic certification process which for small scale farmers is often financially unattainable and increasingly of little meaning as large-scale operations can game the system. Nu-Beginning, instead, adheres to GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) standards which are a voluntary audit-based program for growers committed to sustaining soil, conserving water, and avoiding dependence on things like chemical fertilizers and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) which are actually banned in many countries.
After making a salad of the day – ingredients change based upon what is freshly available from his garden – John stresses the importance of access to healthy food for everyone. To that end, he will take time to consult customers on preparation of his produce, even sharing recipes and demonstrations to encourage them to try new things from the produce bins at the front of The Store. He also felt it important for The Store to accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits and offers a SNAP Tutorial for new users.
Nu-Beginning Farm has a CSA (Customer Supported Agriculture) operation in place. CSAs are a subscription based way of purchasing shares in a farm. Subscriber investments help the farmer with seasonal start-up costs at a crucial time and then provide a share of the bounty at harvest time. Nu-Beginning’s CSA shares cost $265 for a small (feeding 1-2) with a variety of 3-5 items and $475 for a large (feeding 3-4) with a variety of 5-8 items per season due in early Spring. Subscribers receive fresh vegetables, herbs, eggs, and fruit every two weeks May through October. Pick-up is at The Store, George Bowers Grocery, or Nu-Beginning Farm. Dairy and fresh flower shares can be added for an additional cost. Sign-up is in February and limited to thirty shares.
For more information about The Store (Grains of Sense or Nu-Beginning Farm), please call 540-886-1534.