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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee

Good Harvest Market: Dedicated to Health and Community

May 24, 2011 11:02PM ● By Beth Davis

In the late 1990s, Joe Nolan and his wife Jodie began taking a healthier approach to eating, inspired in part by their children, one of whom was attending a Waldorf school with a strong focus on sustainability and eating organically. After years of driving 20 to 30 minutes to reach the nearest store carrying natural, organic foods, they realized that there had to be other people like them in Waukesha County seeking healthy alternatives.

In late 2003, the Nolans formed a plan to bring a natural food store to Waukesha County that would offer local residents convenient access to healthier options than what they could find at conventional grocery stores. Having no experience in the food business, Joe says he and Jodie planned the store through the eyes of customers like themselves.

“We decided, because this was a new format for the area, that we had the opportunity to sell only the food items that met our strict standards,” Joe explains. “That meant no bleach, no added MSG, no artificial sweeteners, no high fructose corn syrup and no partially hydrogenated or trans fats.”

The Nolans designed the store’s floor plan with ease of shopping in mind; it’s smaller than most conventional grocery stores, with wider aisles. They used the principles of feng shui to choose fixture placement and colors that would create a relaxing, calming environment. “We wanted people to take their time and not rush through the store; to enjoy spending an hour or more meandering through the aisles or stopping at the café,” says Joe.

Built using sustainable, recycled products whenever possible, Good Harvest Market opened on January 26, 2005 and is now Waukesha County’s largest natural food store, specializing in natural and organic groceries and gluten-free products. More than 90 percent of its grocery items are organic, and the store carries a growing number of products from local farmers and companies.

Also available are high-quality, holistic health and beauty products, including natural supplements, herbs, homeopathic remedies and essential oils. Each item is carefully selected to ensure that it is free of harmful chemicals and dyes.

To the Nolans, creating a sense of community is just as important as creating a place where reading labels is not a necessity. The store features a community room that hosts numerous educational classes and workshops on topics like healthy cooking, meditation and Tai chi, to promote physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Groups or businesses can rent the room for a nominal fee, and nonprofits can use the room at no cost.

Located inside the store, the Harvest Café offers many healthy, nourishing options for dining in or taking out. Joe notes that for some customers, the café may be their first taste of eating organically. The lunch menu includes hot and cold sandwiches, a self-serve lunch bar with vegetarian and vegan choices, an all-organic salad bar and more. Nutritious fruit smoothies; sandwiches; and freshly brewed, organic, fair-trade and specialty coffees and teas are available throughout the day—all in an effort to help shoppers feel more comfortable and unhurried as they browse the store.

The Nolans’ unwavering dedication to community is also evident in their commitment to donating a portion of their sales to local charities, something they have done since the store opened. They often host special events such as their “5 Plus 5 Day,” which gives customers a 5 percent discount on purchases and contributes 5 percent of the store’s net sales to a local organization. The customer has the option of donating, rather than keeping their 5 percent, as well.

Although the road has not always been an easy one, Joe says it is the store’s customers and employees that continue to inspire the Nolans. “We know we have so many wonderful customers, and we feel as if we can make an impact on their lives and their health. That is beyond rewarding.”

Location: 1850 Meadow Lane, Pewaukee 53188. For more information, call 262-544-9380 or visit