What is in this article?:
- Foragers Searches for the Best of Everything
- The "Local" Trend
“What we seek is quality and freshness, and by default, it may be local.”
— Anna Castellani, co-owner of Foragers City Grocer
At Foragers City Grocers, signs highlight where fruits and vegetables were grown. Photos by Jenna Telesca
The "Local" Trend
She talked some about the “local” trend, which she thinks is somewhat receding. “What we seek is quality and freshness, and by default, it may be local.”
But the future may bring “local” back and better, she said.
“More young people are getting into food, and growing it right. That’s good, but we’re probably 10 years away from having enough regional, really good stuff.”
Read more: Lowes Food Surpasses Local Produce Goal
Castellani and her husband, Richard Lamb, are self-taught growers. In fact, she gives much credit to Elliot Coleman, whose books she and her husband have read and re-read and used as a guide when they bought their farm. Coleman, a Maine resident, and consultant now, was a pioneer in growing crops organically on small acreage, and on cultivating sustainably.
Castellani and her husband farm just two acres of their 28-acre farm.
“So far, we’ve sustained planting successfully for four years on those two acres.”
Another author, Michael Pollan, had a positive effect on Foragers.
Castellani, her husband and their business partner, Clifford Shikler, also own a Foragers in Brooklyn that they opened a few years ago.
“When we tried to sell grass-fed beef then, nobody wanted it. Then ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ came out, and right away everybody wanted to buy grass-fed beef.” And lots of fresh vegetables.
The New York Times, too, has served Foragers well.
“The Times writes a couple of articles about kale, offers a couple of recipes, and there’s kale everywhere. We sell tons of it.”
Keeping on top of trends has helped sales, but so have size and location. Castellani believes New Yorkers miss earlier times when there were so many small, specialized markets.
“They’re tired of mega stores. They like small. It’s convenient. They’re tired after work. They don’t want to stand in line. They can come in here, in a hurry, and pick up something quick.”
Often that’s a rotisserie chicken at $4.95 a pound. The store sells more than 100 of those a day.
The store itself is a new asset to the community.
“Our landlord had been looking for a retail tenant for quite a while. We looked around the neighborhood and thought it would be a good location,” she added.
She admitted, however, that she was nervous about the unknowns of Manhattan retailing.
“But we’re doing so well after six months, we’re very happy about Chelsea. It took us three years in Brooklyn to turn a profit, but we’ll be there much quicker than that here. Maybe within the year.”
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