Historic inspiration combines with the best in food and wellness at the recently opened New Leaf Community Market in Aptos, the heart of the long-anticipated Aptos Village development. The supermarket is nestled in the center of the pedestrian-friendly development, offering all the necessities and much more.
In keeping with the small-town feel of the development, the market was placed in a very special historic building—the remodeled and repositioned Hihn Apple Barn, built by Frederick Augustus Hihn in the early 1890s. The barn was the focus of the local apple industry for decades.
The remodel has retained the historic walls and rafters, but everything inside the store is brand-new, energy-efficient and ready for the 21st century.
“The intent is for us to be a hub for the community,” says Forrest Gonsiewski, who as senior director of New Leaf, helped design the store. “We want people to come out and meet their friends here and stay for a while. I think that’s the best thing a supermarket can be.”
This newest New Leaf Market opened its doors on May 1, part of the local chain that started in Santa Cruz, and is already seeing flocks of customers come in to check out unique departments and features that can’t be found anywhere else locally. In addition to full-service meat and seafood departments and grocery staples, the store offers a wide variety of prepared foods and meals made to order.
Another stand-out aspect of customer service is the store’s grocery delivery program through Instacart. You can order online for same-day delivery, with delivery charges as low as $3.99. Delivery is available in Santa Cruz and surrounding communities; for information, go to instacart.newleaf.com.
As with all New Leaf Markets, 10 percent of after-tax profits will be donated to local nonprofit organizations, and the market’s Envirotoken program for shoppers who bring reusable bags accrues donations for selected nonprofits. During the first six months, beneficiaries of the Aptos store will be Santa Cruz Children’s Museum of Discovery, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Ecology Action, California Ocean Alliance, Second Harvest Food Bank and Grey Bears.
Enter the store and you’re immediately greeted by the sight and aromas of freshly picked organic produce, most of which comes from local farmers within a 100-mile radius of the store. Some of the fruits and vegetables come from just a few miles away, such as P&K Farms in Castroville, Tomatero Organic Farm in Watsonville and JSM Organics in Royal Oaks. Summer favorites such as cherries, peaches and bi-color corn on the cob can be found in abundance right now.
In fact, all around the 17,000-square-foot market are shelf hangers indicating which products that have been sourced locally. Many of the artisans who have been featured on the pages of Edible Monterey Bay magazine, also have a place in the market, including Carmel Berry Company, Friend in Cheeses Jam Co., Tanuki Cider, and Kitchen Witch Bone Broth, just to name a few.
Also within a few steps of the entry is the fully stocked Wellness Department, which offers natural supplements, vitamins and other products to keep you looking and feeling your best, which includes several brands of CBD-infused items for those who need them.
Natural and sustainably produced shampoos, soaps, lotions and other personal hygiene items are also available here. If you have any questions, help is available from the store’s wellness advisors.
Go to the back and turn right, and you’ll find yourself contemplating the delicious selections in the bulk foods area, everything from black rice to dried fruit to trail mix—a great alternative to skipping unnecessary packaging. There are also herbs and baking ingredients available in bulk in addition to organic tea and chai.
Continue on, and you can’t miss the cheese department, which has hundreds of varieties available, with the emphasis on local, artisanal and organic. An enormous wheel of parmigiano-reggiano can be seen out front, festooned with delectable and unusual cheeses and cheese complements such as salami, crackers and fruit compotes.
Conveniently located near the cheese department are beer, cider and wine selections, with the emphasis on local and sustainably produced brands. On the other side is the bakery and juice bar, where freshly squeezed juices and smoothies can be purchased.
The energy-efficient cases at the full-service meat and seafood departments offer sustainably raised meat and sustainable seafood with transparent ratings from FishWise and Seafood Watch.
Just past the bakery is the prepared foods section, which includes options for casual dining, including the high-tech wok and ramen bar. Here, customers enter their choice of noodles, rice, protein, sauce and toppings on an iPad, which sends the order directly to a chef who is standing by, and prints out a ticket for the customer. By the time you go and pay, the meal is ready to be taken home or eaten on the premises.
The food area also includes made-to-order sandwiches, pizza, freshly rolled sushi, soup and hand-prepped salads—such as New Leaf’s popular coastal kale. Menus are available online at newleaf.com.
To top it all off, there’s a full-service coffee, juice and smoothie bar features Pachamama organic coffee and organic Straus soft serve ice cream.
Both indoor and outdoor seating is offered, with the outdoor site overlooking the Aptos Village Green, envisioned as an ideal gathering place for the residential community that is part of the development.
And as with other New Leaf stores, there will be a variety of tasting events and other activities planned for the coming months.
“I hope our store will become the place where people come to meet up with friends and enjoy our good food and good vibes,” says store manager Justin Reyes, a third-generation native Santa Cruzan who has worked at several other New Leaf stores.
New Leaf Community Market • 161 Aptos Village Way, Aptos • 831.685.8500 • newleaf.com
Kathryn McKenzie, who grew up in Santa Cruz and now lives on a Christmas
tree farm in north Monterey County, writes about sustainable living,
home design and health for numerous publications and websites.