By Gary Puleo, firstname.lastname@example.org
WORCESTER >> Even though its name is not on the sign above the door, Kimberton Whole Foods has virtually established a sixth location for itself at Longview Farm and Market.
Terry Brett, owner of the popular regional chain specializing in natural, locally sourced foods, said his relationship with the farm dates back to the time when it was known as Willow Creek Orchards, owned and operated by Drew and Melissa Smith, before it was leased to current operator Greener Partners.
“We used to buy produce from them, and when they left the property, I’d actually had a conversation with the former director of Greener Partners about running the market outright, but it didn’t lead to anything. The local zoning requires that whoever leases the market has to be a partner. So rather than Kimberton Whole Foods just coming in and setting up shop as Kimberton Whole Foods, we would have to create a joint venture,” Brett noted.
Recently, Brett and Meg MacCurtin, the current executive director of Greener Partners — the nonprofit that took over leasing the roughly 110-acre Worcester property from the Smiths four years ago and named it Longview Center for Agriculture — decided to go with the flow of a slightly complicated arrangement to form a 50-50 partnership for the market, located at 3215 Stump Hall Road.
“For certain parcels of ground where the development rights were sold, the ability to have a market on those grounds is somewhat restricted,” Brett explained. “It’s a farmland issue that creates the need to do it this way. So, we’re not advertising it as Kimberton Whole Foods, but we are 50 percent partner with Greener Partners. We have products in there that have our stickers on them — like things that we make in our commissary kitchen. Essentially we’re selling those to our partner, and the partner is reselling them.”
Longtime Kimberton Whole Foods customers don’t normally concern themselves with the particulars of the association, of course. They only care about the fact that they can now find many of their favorite items sold at Kimberton Whole Foods stores in Kimberton, Douglassville, Downingtown, Ottsville and Malvern at Longview Farm Market, including dried fruit, almonds and seeds in bulk, Seven Stars yogurt, Alderfer’s organic eggs, Beaver Creek honey and Weaver Valley Farm meats.
In season, the market, which closes for the season on Dec. 19, also stocks fruits and vegetables grown on the farm, in addition to produce supplied by Frecon Farms in Boyertown.
“As the managing partner of the market, we brought in our computer technology, and products that aren’t coming from the farm, through our distribution channels. That’s all we do. We don’t produce anything. We’re that third party of meat suppliers and milk suppliers, with lots of local products that are on other farms in the tri-county area that we now sell here, and it’s our relationships with those vendors that’s important. Our emphasis has always been on local products, within 100 miles from our distribution center in Downingtown,” Brett added.
In addition to maintaining the Longview Farm & Market on site, Greener Partners has been dedicated to transforming the farm into a regional and educational hub that reconnects people with the land, which parallels Kimberton Whole Foods’ mission of supporting sustainable agriculture and business.
“We aligned with Greener Partners, who is also working to create some transparency and some understanding for different groups of people about where your food comes from, how it’s grown, and also what they’re doing for education,” Brett noted. “Our specialty is creating relationships with farms and selling their products. We represent about 175 local producers.”
Although a highly anticipated Kimberton Whole Foods opening in Trappe recently fell through “at the 11th hour,” Brett allowed that he is still open to the possibilities.
“We are still interested in the Collegeville-Trappe area,” he said.