Olympia’s 8 Arms Bakery Delivers the Good(ies)

Olympia’s 8 Arms Bakery Delivers the Good(ies)

bakery goods1Many people have heard of CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, but what about CSB? That stands for Community Supported Bakery, which is how Olympia’s 8 Arms Bakery began. In this model, customers can pre-purchase a weekly box of baked goods for periods ranging from four to twenty weeks, with the selection changing every week.  “When I first started in 2007, the only thing we were doing was a bakery share program like a farm CSA,” says owner Jen Ownbey.

Today, 8 Arms is still a CSB but has added much more to the mix. In April, they moved from a space with 200 square feet to one with 1,800. “Our wholesale business has grown a lot,” says Ownbey. “Now we’re figuring out how to fit into the new space.”

Ownbey believes part of their growth comes from the fact that 8 Arms offers things you don’t see in other places. “We have 20 different kinds of bars,” she says. “Little hand held pies, and a couple of different types of crackers. Our breads are kind of rustic looking, which is clearly different from bread that’s mass-produced.” Products are also 75% organic, another contributing factor, she says. The bakery offers gluten-free and vegan alternatives along with more traditional goods.

The bottom line, says Ownbey, is that she wants people to be happy when they eat her creations. “The reason I started 8 Arms was that I love to bake,” she says. “Food should make you feel good.”

Look for 8 Arms breads and more in the bakery section at the Yelm Food Co-op.


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Enjoy Art, Wine & Flowers in Gordon’s Gardens This Saturday

Enjoy Art, Wine & Flowers in Gordon’s Gardens This Saturday

wine artGet ready for a heady combination of art, wine, music, poetry, and flowers this Saturday as the Yelm Food Co-op hosts its second annual Art, Wine & Flowers in Gordon’s Garden event. Anne Marsh, Virtuose de Vin at Wine Cellar of Yelm, has selected wines from six different regions in collaboration with La Gitana owner Marian Licxandru, who will be providing unique pizzas to complement each glass, and Gordon’s Garden Center owner Kellie Petersen. “This is an awesome way to reach out and bring the community together,” says Anne. “We can create something wonderful and support local business at the same time.”

From 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., guests will have the opportunity to sample wines while being greeted by a volunteer sommelier in culturally appropriate garb. “Everyone can move through the six tasting stations at their own pace,” says Anne. “The server will know their wine very well, and each tasty bite has been specifically chosen for that wine.”

Four local artists will have work on display: Steve Cramer, Jenn Harshfield, Judy Chapman, and Sandra Bocas. Visitors can also enjoy the floral arrangements created by Kellie Peterson, designed to enhance the regional atmosphere of each tasting station. Classical guitarist John Chapman and poet Michael Apau will complete the ambience, with Apau wandering, minstrel-style, through the gathering.

Once they’ve finished tasting, guests are encouraged to buy the wine of their choice and journey across the street to La Gitana, where Marian will have the specially created pizzas available – and no corkage fee. But don’t ask about ingredients. “I won’t be revealing what the wines are until the day of the event,” says Anne, “and the same goes for the pizzas.”

Tickets are $40 for two prior to the event and $25 per person the day of, with a $10 charge for those who only want to view the art. “It’s honoring the work of all of the volunteers who are contributing their time to put this together, including the artists, the people pouring, the musician, the poet and the people preparing food,” says Anne. Proceeds from the event will go toward the Yelm Co-op’s Wishlist of new equipment and features. Tickets can be purchased at the Co-op or by calling 360.400.2210.

“It’s going to be a beautiful day,” says Anne. “This is a way to raise money for the Co-op and support our local businesses, while enjoying great food, wine, and art in a really lovely setting.”


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Main Street Cookie Company Puts Rainier on the Map

Main Street Cookie Company Puts Rainier on the Map

insidecookiestorRainier city council member Dennis McVey was on an Amtrak train from Texas to Washington when everyone decided to introduce themselves. When his turn rolled around, he said, “I’m from Rainier, Washington.” Across the table, a woman’s eyes lit up. “That’s where Main Street Cookies is!” “I felt really proud of our little town,” says McVey. “I got a big smile on my face.” As it turned out, Main Street had shipped cookies to the woman’s Boston home.

Main Street has helped to put Rainier on the map, with cookies retailing at more than twenty South Sound locations, including the Yelm Food Co-op, and shipping to customers nationwide. The company’s success can be attributed to owner Joycelyn’s Zambuto’s unwavering integrity when it comes to ingredients. “The most important thing to me is to make certain that whatever I put out there is the very best that we are capable of producing,” she says. “We’ve actually improved our product since we first opened.”

That means unlike most store-bought cookies, Main Street’s creations contain no vegetable shortening, no oil, no hydrogenated products of any kind, no food coloring or dye, and no preservatives. The quality of her ingredients also makes them more expensive. “Sometimes when people first come in, they balk at the price,” she says. “But once we explain why, they’re usually fine with it.”

Zambuto credits the Rainier City Council and Mayor Randy Schleis with creating a healthy environment for local companies. “They are very appreciative of their businesses and their town,” she says. “I have a really good working relationship with City Hall. The business community in Rainier is wonderful. It’s probably the area’s best kept secret.”

In the nine years the store has been operating, she’s noticed a shift in her clientele. “I’m finding that over fifty percent of the people who walk in the door are new,” she says. “They’re coming from as far north as British Columbia and as far south as California. They’ve heard of Main Street and wanted to stop. They all say, ‘I was told I had to come here.’ I love that.”

Between the retail, wholesale, and online markets Main Street serves, “It’s hard work,” says Zambuto.  “Even when you get your operating systems down, there is no vacation.” However, she contends, it’s worth it. “This has been perhaps the most joyous experience of my life. I’ve met some incredibly beautiful people from all over the world.” As Main Street’s reputation continues to grow, she will have the opportunity to meet many more.


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Yelm Crew Investigates Theo Chocolate Factory, With Delicious Results

Yelm Crew Investigates Theo Chocolate Factory, With Delicious Results

theo chocolateWe dare you: try not to think about Oompa Loompas while touring the Theo ChocolateFactory. It’s tougher than you think. Learning about the multiple chocolate waterfalls and large pipes the molten river flows through, it’s hard not to imagine that Augustus Gloop and company might be haunting the company’s Fremont premises. The Seattle-based organization makes the only certified organic, fair trade and non-GMO bean to bar chocolate in North America. On top of that, their products are absolutely delicious, as a contingent from Yelm found out last weekend during a field trip to the factory.

The group included Amy Honey and Jamie Honey of Yelm Bootcamp and a lively gang from New Leaf Hyperbarics. Everyone came away with a new level of respect for what it takes to create chocolate and an appreciation of the exceptional standards Theo Chocolate holds itself to. “All of the work that has to be done by hand before you even get the bean to make the chocolate, that was amazing to me,” says Amy.

Jamie was struck by the emphasis on fair trade. When Theo founder Joe Whinney became the first supplier of organic cocoa beans to the U.S. in 1994, he observed how farmers in Central America and Africa were being exploited, and determined to make a difference. After starting Theo in 2006, he teamed up with actor/director Ben Affleck to create the Eastern Congo Initiative, which provides support for more than 20,000 people living in East Congo. “I loved the fact that every single person along the line is paid well,” says Jamie.

It helps that the chocolate itself is incredible. The tour included samples, and it was hard to pick a favorite, but both Jamie and Amy commented on the milk chocolate with chai spices and the ganache with strawberry jalepeno.  They highly recommend the tour and plan to do it again. “It was joyful, educational, experiential and it tasted delicious,” says Jamie. “What more could you get in an hour?”

Theo Chocolate has its own rack at the Yelm Food Co-op. Try it today!

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Tina Maggio is Beautifying Yelm, One Sign at a Time

Tina Maggio is Beautifying Yelm, One Sign at a Time

20150512_100843When you drive by the Yelm Food Co-op, probably the first thing that catches your eye is a sign – a beautifully lettered, colorful, hand-drawn creation advertising produce and wine. That sign and others like it, including the blackboard menu at Garden to Gourmet and posters for Standing Room Only productions at the Triad Theater, all come from one person: local artist Tina Maggio.   Tina regularly volunteers her time and talent at the Co-op.
 
Although she’s been shopping at the store since it opened, she first became a volunteer when the store changed locations. “It wasn’t a conscious decision,” she explains.  “I jumped in because I’d met some really cool people at the former little store. I thought, “They need help.”
 
Her first experience was painting the inside of the new building. “Carol Franks, Linda Shub and I were up on the scaffolding painting, laughing and having a good time. That’s what made it fun – the people I worked with,” she says.
 
That continues to hold true today. Tina also volunteers for the annual Gift of Gobble project, which provides over 100 Thanksgiving meals to families in need. “It’s my favorite thing to help with, because it’s the same people who started the project and they’re still there every year. We make it a fun day,” she says. Fun, she adds, is critical for volunteers.   “I have to be honest; If it weren’t for the people I enjoyed being with, I wouldn’t do it. We’re giving the time, so we might as well have a good time.”
 
One of her regular volunteer tasks is to create little signs for the produce. Because Tina is Tina, the signs are miniature works of art. “I want them to look beautiful,” she says. “It’s the same with the sign out front. I want to beautify the city, so people drive by and say, ‘Oh, that’s pretty.’ If it looks nice and makes the business more attractive, why not? I think Yelm could use a little beautifying.”
 
Remarkably, Tina is self-taught. “My dad was an artist and did some lettering,” she says. “I used to watch him.” In high school, she took a two week class in lettering and was hooked from then on. She got as many books as she could on the subject and learned as she went. “I was inspired,” she says.
 
Today, it’s the people at the Co-op that continue to inspire her. “I can go in almost any day, running in for milk or fruit, and there’s always someone I know or haven’t seen for a while. It’s this little hub, a meeting place which I really like,” she says.  “I love the atmosphere of the store as it is now – warm and inviting.”
 
If she could change one thing, it would be to increase community involvement, particularly in the area of volunteering.  “A lot of the same people are still doing the same things,” she says. “It seems like they’re still carrying it. It would be cool if there were more new people coming in.”
 
Aside from that, she hopes that awareness continues to grow in Yelm and surrounding areas.  “Everybody eats, everybody loves food,” she says.  “It would be great to see more people who live in the area shopping at the Co-op, rather than just saying, ‘Oh, I’ll go to Safeway. It’s cheaper.’ It’s about bringing people together over food.”

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Olykraut May Have You Rethinking Your Relationship with Sauerkraut

Olykraut May Have You Rethinking Your Relationship with Sauerkraut

olykraut1Multiple choice question. Which best describes your feelings about sauerkraut?

  1. Love it!
  2. I enjoy it during Oktoberfest, accompanied by a large stein
  3. I know it’s really healthy, but . . . no thanks
  4. Sauerkraut?

Whichever category you fall into, get ready for a new experience. Olympia-based Olykraut has developed its own line of locally sourced, certified organic sauerkraut with year-round flavors like Spicy Garlic, Smoke & Kale and Eastern European. Additionally, they have seasonal flavors like Curry, Nettle, Sea Greens, and Cumin Jalapeno that are in high demand. “We get a lot of messages wondering when our seasonal flavors are going to be ready,” says Marketing and Communications Manager Carley Mattern.

Recently, the company won a 2015 Good Food Award.  The winners were chosen from 1,462 entries in a blind taste test by 182 judges. Good Food Awards describes the winners as being at “the forefront of American craft food, making products that are delicious, respectful of the environment, and connected to communities and cultural traditions.” In Mattern’s words, Olykraut is “working to grow our local food system, support our local farmers, and increase access to fresh local foods for consumers. We also try to be as environmentally sustainable as we can in our

The Olykraut team.

The Olykraut team.

decisions.”

That’s not surprising, given the company’s origins. Sash Sunday, one of the founders, has an MBA in Sustainable Systems and studied Food, Fermentation and Sustainable Agriculture at the Evergreen State College. “Sash wants to get people excited about eating delicious and nutritious fermented foods,” says Mattern.

Nutritious is right. Sauerkraut functions as a natural probiotic and is rich in vitamin C, which is why in bygone days sailors, including Captain Cook, took it on long sea voyages to prevent scurvy. With the variety of flavors that Olykraut offers, eating healthy just got a little more appetizing.

Olykraut products are available at the Yelm Food Cooperative in the refrigerator near the herbs and teas.

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New Kids’ Program Comes to Farmers Market

New Kids’ Program Comes to Farmers Market

child with vegetableGood news, parents! Your kids will have a whole new reason to get excited about the Yelm Farmers Market this season. Don’t be surprised if they develop a passion for vegetables and start shopping without you. Other side effects may include financial literacy, a sudden interest in gardening and newfound haggling skills.

The source of all this excitement is a program called The Power of Produce, which was originally developed by The Oregon City Farmers Market four years ago. “It was so successful that markets all around the country are now taking it on,” says Market Manager Karen Rae. “The idea is to introduce children to vegetables and fruit by having a kids’ club at the market.”

Children ages 5 to 12 can join the free club, at which point they’re given a badge and a small shopping bag. “When they come back every week and register, they get two dollars of market tokens that they get to spend on fruit or vegetables or a plant that grows food,” Karen explains. “They get to choose.”

Although the original purpose of the club was to empower kids to make healthy food choices, the benefits have proven to be much greater. “They’ve found that the kids become much more involved in the market,” says Karen. “It’s no longer just mom and dad going to the market with the kids dragged along behind, it’s now their shopping experience as well. They are getting to interact with the farmers directly and try all these new things. Parents are just thrilled with what’s happening, because kids are driving the purchase of vegetables and fruit and eating differently.”

 Another benefit is financial literacy. “The groups who are monitoring the success of the program are seeing kids saving their tokens for several weeks or pooling with their siblings,” she says. “They’re not spending their money that week, but saving for plants or bigger items. In this day and age I don’t know how many kids get to deal with actual currency.”Karen is currently accepting sponsors for the program, which she hopes will run during all 22 Sunday markets. “What other markets have found is that as long as they have enough sponsorship to get off the ground, the community sees the value of the program and no one wants it to stop because it’s run out of funding,” she says.

If you’re interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Karen Rae at 360-894-1164 or yelmfarmersmarket@gmail.com  Sponsorship and donation information is also directly available on the website www.yelmfood.coop.

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