City Feed and Supply

Bearing the fruits of the community back to the neighborhood
By KARA BASKIN  |  November 6, 2007

These days, Whole Foods are as ubiquitous as Starbucks and the “organic” label is tossed around as loosely as Britney Spears’s children. Tired of all the posturing? Put down your brown-rice sushi and get thee to Jamaica Plain’s CITY FEED AND SUPPLY, a throwback to the days of mom-and-pop corner stores. The neighborhood grocery, owned by Dave Warner and his wife, Kristine, is just a quick jaunt from the Stony Brook T Stop (more than 90 percent of their customers walk to the shop). It’s a welcome haven for local residents who pop in to buy organic and fair-trade coffee, locally made butter, and tasty sandwiches with fixin’s culled from local farms.

What you see in your sandwich and on the shelves at City Feed and Supply reflects the company’s philosophy: not only do they feed local residents, they also sustain local businesses. “There are things you can do on a small scale that you can’t do as easily on an industrial scale,” says Dave. That means buying pickled tomatoes (always a big hit) from Deborah’s Kitchen on Pond Street, pastries from local bakery Delectable Desires,  and produce from Stillman’s Farm in Lunenburg. “Most of the food that we’re able to sell comes right out of Jamaica Plain,” Dave says. “We build strong relationships, being part of the community.” The Warners dispose of their food scraps and coffee grounds in a community garden compost, and recycle all their own paper and containers.

Also special is the Warners’ relationship with local farms. They use a community-supported agriculture model, meaning they give the farms cash up front at the beginning of the year, estimating what they might use. At year’s end they go back and take stock, paying more if need be. This kind of good-faith business model gives farmers money when they need it most. Of course, this isn’t a way to get rich quick, and Dave Warner doesn’t delude himself by trying to compete with larger corporations, such as Whole Foods. He relies on the convenience factor: the shop is a great place to pop in for a sandwich or some fresh veggies, but you won’t wind up spending $200 there to feed your family. On the other hand, it’s a cozier experience.

“Shopping at your neighborhood market is part of your lifestyle, not a chore,” he says. “Our neighborhood really supports what we do. It’s about trying to do the right thing, you know?” We do.

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