Situated on a side street in downtown New Albany, Seeds and Greens Natural Market & Deli has the feel of an old-time grocery store — a pretty darn big one.
With exposed brick walls painted an unassuming teal and accented with reclaimed wood and architectural salvage such as two huge doors on one wall that may have once been the entryway to a barn, it’s a unique fixture in a district known for its dining flare.
Even the building’s façade is a throwback to a circa-19th century grocery, with its gauged, block lettering. The business, set in a former dry goods store built in 1852, sits just blocks or even steps from destinations like The Exchange Pub + Kitchen, Hull & High Water, Dragon King’s Daughter and Brooklyn and the Butcher.
Approaching its fifth year in business, the health-food-store-meets-restaurant attracts an audience that owner Stacey Freibert knew was underserved from the word “go.” Since opening the business, she has watched the downtown restaurant and bar district grow up around Seeds and Greens.
There’s still nothing quite like it.
“When I made the decision to open a health-food store and café, I wouldn’t have gone anywhere but downtown New Albany,” she says. “We didn’t have anything like it downtown. And if people want a place to walk, to shop, to go to restaurants, it’s less expensive than on the Louisville side.”
A New Albany resident herself, civic pride also played a role, she says. Her staff is ready to help customers find what they want from the moment they walk in the door, which triggers an old-fashioned-sounding doorbell.
Most of all, Freibert wants to bring healthful food to people who want and need it. It might be in the form of a scratch-made vegan soup, a plant-based meat substitute or a gluten-free sauce.
But it isn’t just food you’ll find at Seeds and Greens — you can get vitamin supplements for your dog there. You can get organic dish soap or skin care products, plus essential oils, CBD oils and more. You can buy a Fair Trade-certified bag or a satchel made in Nepal. You can get local wine. You can pretty much find organic anything and non-GMO products galore.
You can even get tree-friendly toilet paper made from bamboo (no, it’s not scratchy).
One aisle is devoted almost entirely to vitamins and other natural supplements, while another aisle has cooler and freezer cases with locally-farmed meats and produce, as well as organic drinks and frozen foods. On a nearby table, customers can sample snacks and other products — on a recent visit, one of the available samples was crackers made with cauliflower.
And if you’ve got specific food sensitivities, Seeds and Greens has you covered; if not, Freibert will order it for you. Whatever it is, Freibert sources products for the store herself — she has identified pretty much every item in the establishment and brought it in, much of it found by traveling to conferences and experiencing it herself.
In other words, you won’t see a SYSCO truck parked outside anytime soon.
In the café side of the business — there are a pair of small designated dining rooms, but many choose to sit at the handful of tables at the front of the store and peer out the windows as they dine — there’s a rotating menu of daily soups and sides. Vegan options abound, but for the carnivores, there are plenty of wraps and sandwiches made with Boar’s Head meats.
It’s all made from scratch and cooked to order. Many of the ingredients are literally plucked from the store shelves.
And once you’ve made your choice, pair it with a house-made smoothie, such as a the Californian, with berries, mangos, pomegranate and almond milk. (You can also create your own.)
Stopping in with friends for a recent lunch yielded a horseradish roast beef panini that was meaty and delicious, on grilled focaccia and topped with provolone, mushrooms, onions and more. A grilled vegetable and hummus wrap, made with pita, was loaded with perfectly cooked vegetables, sliced perfectly.
A quinoa harvest soup was light and clean with carrots, potatoes and celery in a medium broth, while a bean soup with white and black beans plus chunks of pork was hearty and natural.
Freibert says the main focuses at Seeds and Greens are the supplements, the café and the groceries. Asked if it’s the café or the grocery that attracts the most people, she says one feeds the other — many come in just to try a panini or smoothie, then wind up shopping. Sometimes shoppers who come in to purchase essential oils will ultimately take home a wrap.
“The two things work really well together, and they work really well for a downtown market,” she says. “We don’t have a big footprint, but we’ve got a lot packed in here.”
Seeds and Greens Natural Market & Deli, located at 207 W. First St. in New Albany, is open Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.