Farm Horizons, August 2010
Farm Horizions: Harvest Moon food co-op has commitment to grow, gather, and give
By Starrla Cray
One look at Harvest Moon Natural Foods Co-op, and it’s easy to see why customers are excitedly reaping its many benefits.
From the fresh abundance of local produce to the inviting coffee bar atmosphere, Harvest Moon is a full-service grocery store that makes it fun to shop for wholesome foods.
The store opened in Long Lake June 12, and area residents are thankful to have a place to shop close to home.
“We’re all so used to traveling long distances to get groceries,” said marketing chief Kari Pastir-Smith, one of Harvest Moon’s founders. “People say they can’t believe this is here.”
The store offers a meat department, deli, and take-out pre-prepared meals. Some of the brands offered are different than those of traditional food chains, and the store makes an effort to supply goods with simple ingredients.
“It’s food that’s very focused on natural ingredients,” Pastir-Smith said. “We’re all about the healthy alternative.”
Another distinctive mark of Harvest Moon is they way it was founded.
“Co-ops are really one-of-a-kind,” Pastir-Smith said. “They are almost always developed by the community, for the community.”
Pastir-Smith, who longed for a grocery store and community-gathering place in her hometown, was one of the people who helped build momentum to start Harvest Moon.
“The big difference between a regular business and a co-op is that a co-op is owned by the members,” she said.
A group of founders began to recruit members, who each paid a $175 fee.
“We had almost 1,000 founding members before we even opened doors,” Pastir-Smith said.
Although anyone is welcome to shop, members are given discounts on their purchases, and they will also receive dividends as the co-op grows.
“It’s actually purchasing stock,” Pastir-Smith explained.
People who support Harvest Moon are making a contribution to sustainable agriculture and health and wellness education, she added.
In the future, the company hopes to partner with community education to offer courses in these topics.
Starting a co-op takes time and effort, Pastir-Smith said. Discussion about the store started in 2005, and it was incorporated in 2006.
“That’s not unusual for co-ops,” she said. “It’s a very dedicated, but slower, process.”
Currently, about half of Harvest Moon’s customers are members.
“A co-op draws a diverse group of shoppers, which is exciting,” Pastir-Smith said.
Harvest Moon is a store for anyone who is interested in a healthy lifestyle, she added.
“People really enjoy it as a lunch spot,” she said. “We have café seating both inside and outside.”
Many people ride their bikes to the store and park in the bike racks. Then, they enjoy an outdoor lunch surrounded by colorful landscaping.
Shoppers feel good about supporting Harvest Moon, Pastir-Smith said, because it benefits the community.
“We’re supporting the small family farms,” she said. “People like to put their shopping dollars in that direction.”
Cramer Organics in Delano, Riverbend Farm in Delano, Living Song Farm in Howard Lake, and The Farm of Minnesota in Hutchinson are a few of the area farms that supply goods to Harvest Moon.
“The primary resource is local,” Pastir-Smith said. “If we can get organic, too, that’s great.”
In addition to produce, Harvest Moon also aims to provide locally-produced cheese and meat.
The store is located about 13 miles east of Delano, at 2380 W. Wayzata Boulevard in Long Lake.
It is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
For more information, go to www.harvestmoon.coop or call (952) 345-3300.Grand opening
Plans are underway for a grand opening celebration from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12. The store will be brimming with local, natural food vendors. Shoppers will be able to register for door prizes. There will be outdoor music with local musicians, chair massage, family portraits, local art, and lots of really good food will be shared.
The tribute wall to founding member-owners will be unveiled. Harvest Moon will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. with all member-owners invited to participate.
Get to know the people at Harvest Moon
A few of the employees at Harvest Moon include: