Urban Ground Market produce manager Bryan Lawson and store manager Heather Filsinger take a moment to stop for a picture in front of a wall made from reclaimed wood.

View Royal market hopes to inspire healthy living

Grocer looks to build strong connections with local farmers

There’s a new market in town.

Urban Ground Market is anticipating opening its doors in View Royal by the end of the month, and store employees are eagerly getting ready.

Owned and operated by XW Sunrise Developments Ltd., Urban Ground will be the first store opening in the Lakeside Village development, steps away from Thetis Lake.

The anchor tenant has set lofty goals for itself in an effort to provide West Shore residents with a one-stop shop for healthy alternatives.

Store manager Heather Filsinger said all their products have been mindfully selected to fit within a healthy lifestyle. She points to shelves in the process of being stocked with brands that a shopper might normally find in a speciality health food store, not a typical grocery store.

Produce manager Bryan Lawson said sometimes he has to go to two or three stores just to build a complete organic meal. “There’s a demand for that kind of thing,” he said. “If you have a concept and take a bit of a stand, it gives you something different.” He said the organic sector has seen significant growth in the last five years.

Filsinger said many people are already asking questions about products bound for Urban Ground’s displays. “The interest is there and people are responding to that,” she said.

Lawson also wants to take that interest a step further. “We have a big focus on local,” he said, adding that focus is also on sustainable, small-scale agriculture and they are working with 20 farms south of the Cowichan Valley. The produce department will also feature a number of heirloom varieties and organic products – all locally sourced whenever possible.

Of their larger suppliers, he said products have been ethically sourced so the consumer doesn’t have to worry about what they are buying. They are also sourcing some exotic fruits to really expand the store’s selection.

Instead of a cookie jar for children, Lawson wants to have a basket of organic fruits and vegetables to offer children while their parents shop. It’s all about “healthy living, outdoor lifestyles and engaging the younger generation,” he said.

With a background in permaculture, Lawson’s passion for agriculture is obvious after only speaking for a few moments. His dreams for the store go beyond the traditional scope and look to enriching the surrounding community by connecting it with local farmers.

That plays into the store’s mandate, which he said includes showing members of the community how to grow food in urban spaces.

Taking that mandate a step further, the store is also working with Edible Living Landscapes – who were recommended by the development’s design team – to develop an in-store installation, as well as an exterior edible garden.

Part of the synergy of that, Lawson said, will see the culinary herbs and micro greens from the living landscapes, as well as unsold products from the produce section used in the deli and kitchen departments of the store to create healthy meals. “Hopefully we can close that circle of waste,” he added.

Filsinger said they started working on the design and concept aspects of the store back in July and have worked hard to see those ideas take shape. “Even our produce tables are locally made,” she said. “It’ll be pretty cool.”

Urban Ground was hoping to have a soft opening this week, although Filsinger noted that could be delayed due to some of the final construction details. Grand opening celebrations are in the works for May 1.

“It feels great that we’re on track,” added Filsinger.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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