Local Hero Profile: Nourish Cafe
By Jared Shein, CISA Intern
Published in CISA’s March 2020 E-Newsletter – Sign Up Here!
Whirring blenders and 90’s rock music combine for a unique soundtrack as I walk into Nourish in downtown Northampton to speak with part owner Ethan Vandermark about his wellness cafe. The sunny room is filled with plants and mason jars; the walls lined with local art, juice and smoothie menus; and descriptions and quotes about Nourish’s mission and values. We sit down at one of the tables and Vandermark begins to tell me about the Northampton spot. “Nourish is really about serving the community through food,” Vandermark tells me. “We want to feed the community healthy food and support the community by sourcing our produce from local farms.”
This philosophy is proudly posted on small chalkboards all around the cafe. “Our intention is to contribute to the health and well-being of our community through the food we create, the guidance that we offer, and the space that we provide,” reads a chalkboard on the back wall next to the menu. Similar chalkboards hang nearby and inform customers of Nourish’s commitment to organic, local, and whole foods, the community and the environment.
Ethan and his wife and business partner Ashley Niles started Nourish as a small juice bar in nearby Thornes Marketplace with dreams of opening a bigger cafe focused on supplying healthy, local, and organic vegetarian food to the community. “Ashley is really into nutrition,” replied Vandermark when I asked him about Nourish’s origins. “We eat a healthy, mostly plant–based diet at home and are all about buying local, but we didn’t really see a restaurant like that in this area. We saw an opportunity to make a difference in the community by being one of the first places in Northampton to provide this type of food, so we went for it!”
What’s on the Menu
After working the juice and smoothie bar for a few years Ethan and Ashley finally took the leap and opened the full cafe space in 2016. The Wellness Cafe goes way beyond the juices and smoothies they used to sell at Thornes though, and they now also offer bowls, soups, salads, toasts, coffee, and tea all made with local, healthy ingredients. Their bowls have become especially popular among customers as they appreciate the bright, delicious, and healthy meal. “The idea for the bowls is grains, greens, proteins, healthy fats, and veggies, and our most popular bowl, the Buddha Bowl, has ginger carrots (from Real Pickles), purple cabbage, brown rice, kale, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea shoots.” says Vandermark. “People leave not feeling too full, and feeling good about the local, all-organic meal they just had.”
Nourish’s Community and Local Farm Connection
Vandermark also spoke about Nourish’s connection to the local community and local farms in sourcing the food they serve at the cafe. Nourish serves greens, sprouts, wheatgrass, root vegetables, ghee, fermented vegetables, sriracha, apples, spinach, and other produce from Queens Greens in Amherst, Dwight Miller Orchards in Dummerston, VT, Gill Greenery in Gill, Natural Roots Farm and South River Miso in Conway, and Full Moon Ghee and Real Pickles in Greenfield among other local producers. Vandermark loves how many local options are available in the Pioneer Valley. “I love the fact that we have so many local farms.” The Pioneer Valley is a very abundant place, you have so many options and I really enjoy the opportunity to choose the farms that we work with.”
Vandermark is also a big fan of the friendly and tight-knit local business scene in Northampton. “I love talking to people and connecting with community members, business owners ,and just people in general,” beamed Vandermark. “For me and my wife, it’s that connection piece that really drove our passion to open this business.”
Ethan and Ashley’s passion for health, the environment, and the local community really shine through in the space that they created, and in an ancient Hippocrates quote I noticed on the wall on my way out, “Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.”
Nourish Wellness Café is located at 10 Bridge Street in Northampton and is open from 8am to 6pm every day of the week. You can find them on Facebook at @nourishwellnesscafe and on Instagram at @nourishnoho. You can visit them at their website nourishnoho.com.