New Beet Market offers more than just local food. The eatery at Brunswick
Landing is offering educational opportunities and collaborates with other local nonprofits to provide more than just a sandwich and a bag of chips.
Owners Nate Wildes and Jamie Pacheco are working in partnership with Seeds of Independence and Harpswell Coastal Academy, among other entities.
“They receive the majority of our profits, and then their students have the opportunity to work and collaborate here in this space as employees, as interns and as classroom educational experience,” Wildes said.
HCA students will also be tending an expanding garden and working from planning to production. Bradley Goodwin, director of Entrepreneurial Education and Communications at HCA, said beyond basic working skills like showing up on time and being part of a team, students are working on state and federal educational standards.
“It’s offering them a glimpse or an opportunity to get involved with a variety of different disciplines from economics to biology and that’s how we provide standardized education for them in that format,” Goodwin said.
Goodwin said the students are immersed in the full experience of food production, from farming, to production, to composting. These opportunities will expand when New Beet begins preparing meals for HCA students — part of New Beet’s plan to provide institutional meals.
Sage Fowler, a junior at HCA, said she’s had a smattering of experiences at New Beet, including washing dishes, tending the register and sandwich prep. Although she’s not sure if she wants to continue in the food industry, she’s enjoying everything she learns.
Adding to their dozens of local suppliers, the kids from Seeds of Independence partner with Brunswick High School on two garden plots. The Seeds kids will be harvesting herbs and vegetables from the plots for New Beet as well.
Another partner of New Beet, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, is working with the eatery on ways to centralize meal preparation for the two-fold purpose of economizing the process and preparing local, fresh meals for people who qualify under federal programs.
“The goal of that program is not to make money. The goal of the program is to serve the best nutrition we can for the dollars the federal government provides,” Wildes said.
According to Wildes, New Beet gets around 75 percent of its food from local farms — many of whom maintain greenhouses throughout the winter to keep the produce coming in. Wildes said he sees a few farmers coming every day delivering their goods. The food is fresh enough so that Wildes has shut off the walk-in freezer.
However, Wildes said New Beet’s mission goes deeper than the food they serve, noting that New Beet, HCA and Seeds of Independence are a community within a community that is expanding at Brunswick Landing.
“We’re building a community that’s focused on children, that’s focused on youth — providing them the services they need, they want and they deserve. Part of those services is good food, but the importance of all of this is sustainability and not just environmental sustainability but financial sustainability,” Wildes said.
“New Beet Market, to me is sort of the center of the community,” said Tom Wright of Seeds of Independence, because food and restaurants make “the difference between an industrial park and a community.”