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Whole Foods Re-Energizes

Walk through Whole Foods Westport's doors and expect to feel a jolt. It's the store's newly amped up energy. “Everything we're doing right now at Whole Foods is focussing on Westport and summertime,” says Marketing Manager Katie Cole, adding, "In every department, we have something local."  And customers get to see exactly where these local products come from -- and who's making them.

To demonstrate, Katie pilots me over to the meat counter. There, a photograph shows Simply Grazin' Organic Farm's owners, Mark and Lynne Faille.  The caption explains how these New Jersey farmers use rotational grazing to give their cattle enough pasture to graze in spring, summer and fall.  "We also want to show customers that, this time of year, what is seasonal and fresh is also local," Katie says, adding what is true for fruit and vegetables is also true for beef, pork and shellfish. Over in Whole Foods' cheese section,  local goat's milk chevre, made by hand, in small batches, comes from Beltrane Farm, only 90 miles away in Lebanon, CT.  The chevre nestles in the capacious cheese display case, side by side with equally mouth-watering cheeses from longer distances, like today's samples, little  Cabot sharp cheddar squares, from Vermont.  They're incredibly zingy and delicious. (I ought to know; I helped myself to three of them.)As we move over to the produce area, farmer Dick deGraff decorates a wall poster. His Grindstone Farm in Pulaski, New York, provides many of the store's organic vegetables, like the nearby pyramid of zucchini.

With summer underway, Whole Foods expects waves of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and they won't go unnoticed. Special occasions at the store give them a shout out. The arrival of deep red, ripe cherries kicks off the first festivities. On June 11, there's a Whole Foods' cherry tasting from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Arrive with your biggest bag on June 18.  That day, cherries sell for only $1.99 a pound! And remember, cherry season's window slams shut pretty quickly, so you'll want to really douse yourself in them. You'll get the opportunity to get doused on June 25, at the store's cherry pie eating contest.  Even if you don't expect to be a contender, come in and sample this first-prize tangy treatAnd, in July, Whole Foods goes positively off the grid with a week-long local vendors festival. Hang out there for ongoing tastings, classes, (a jam and jar workshop is one) sales and displays.  Vendors interested in being part of this electric local event should contact Gabriel Edell at Gabriel.Edell@wholefoods.com.Whole Foods' high beams are also focussed on giving back to the community.  On June 30, four stores, including Whole Foods Westport, will donate five percent of the day's gross sales to Save the Sound, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and restoring Long Island Sound. "We're happy to make a large donation to them because they work hard to protect such an important natural resource," says Katie. She believes the charity will receive $10,000 minimum from the shopping event.

Soon, Whole Foods Westport plans a renovation of its interior.  A new look, more space and even more emphasis on locally-produced products are all in the works. So keep checking in at Whole Foods Westport because this powerhouse natural market has plans to generate even more buzz. Whole Foods has joined the Main Street Connect family by investing in an annual visibility package.

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