Health & Medical Guide02/28/2018 03:50PM ● By Stone Lieberman
Click here to view the E-Edition.
By Richard L. Gaw
In July 1995, Bob Kleszics opened Harvest Market with a simple mission: To provide the
Hockessin community with the highest quality, most nourishing foods and related
products available, while conducting business in socially responsible ways that are both
sustainable and rewarding for its customers, employees, producers and the environment.
More than two decades later, Kleszics said he would never have imagined that the
mission he and his wife, Karen, have created would eventually grow to include more than
50 employees, a fully-operational kitchen and the ability for the store to produce its own
food -- all supported by a dedicated, knowledgeable staff.
"Part of the success of Harvest Market is that we have been able to find people who
believe in our vision, with a focus on healthy, clean food, and sustainable agriculture,"
said Kleszics, who has incorporated management training conferences into the store's
operations. "Our customer service is all encompassing. We treat our customers, our
farmers, our co-workers, our truck drivers -- everybody -- with the same respect and
If the success of Harvest Market ends with row after row of organic and local fresh
produce, grass-fed meats, nutritional supplements, culinary herbs and spices and personal
care products -- it begins with conversations, recommendations and education.
"During every interaction with customers, we get an opportunity to talk about the farmers
and producers that Harvest Market works with," said Holly Tyson, communications
coordinator. "The relationships we have formed with our customers starts with our staff.
We take pride in serving as a point of education in the community, and people have come
to respect our opinions. And, like our customers, we're always learning, and when we
don't happen to know the answers, we will look it up or find someone on staff who knows
While Harvest Market focuses on the nourishing, the sustainable and the delicious -- it
has also become a constantly-evolving source of new initiatives. From the time it opened
in 2013, the Harvest Market Kitchen has become a daily showcase of grab-and-go soups,
salads, sandwiches, sides and sweets, all made from scratch with the same high quality
ingredients sold throughout the store. After receiving several Best of Delaware awards
for its healthy organic foods, the kitchen received a Best of Delaware award this year for
being voted Best Gourmet-Food-to-Go in Northern Delaware.
While Harvest Market continues to be an incubator of ideas, the original mission of the
store is seen and felt well beyond its front door. When Heather Sachs' son Rider was a
small boy, he was diagnosed with several food allergies -- including a severe peanut
allergy -- her visits to the grocery store became an aisle-by-aisle label reading session,
and while Sachs helped to change her son's diet substantially, she knew she had only
scratched the surface.
"I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to attend to his allergies forever, but I
didn't realize that there was a world that catered to people and families who have food
allergies," she said. "I looked at the side of boxes and made sure that there were no
peanuts in it, but I didn't know about cross-contact with other allergens."
In addition to working with a nutritional counselor, Sachs, who later became the store’s
marketing manager, began visiting Harvest Market and improved Rider's diet with a
variety of allergen-free foods and supplements. She soon realized that she was not alone;
it's very common to see Harvest Market customers referring to sheets of data or looking
at box labels.
"In having to adhere to a new diet, many times, it's something that they've never had to
deal with before," Sachs said. "Our staff regularly walk around the store with our
customers and provide advice. We as a staff really understand our products, because we
"It becomes an opportunity to speak from experience with our customers. I have met
many mothers who tell me that their child was just diagnosed with a severe food allergy.
That begins an immediate connection between us."
Perhaps the best way to understand the vast dichotomy between traditional,
Western-based medicine and holistic, natural healing is by watching TV commercials
advertising the latest miracle drugs offered by pharmaceutical companies. The
commercials often begin with people walking on a beach or in a field in a state of
contentment, while beneath the soundtrack of upward lilting music, a voiceover begins to
warn viewers of potential side effects of the drug. The list of these risks can be long and
alarming, especially when the last of its roll call includes "death."
These commercials, and the products they are attempting to sell, make little sense to
Kleszics, and while he acknowledges that some of these medications may be needed, they
often define the difference between "natural health" and "disease management."
"When people have something they're going through – whether it be an allergy or a
degenerative issue like heart disease or diabetes – that did not arise from a lack of a
prescription medication," he said. "Western medicine tends to treat symptoms of the
problem with drugs, or several drugs, while doing nothing to address the underlying
cause. A lot more people are saying, 'Let's try something different. Let's look at the foods
that we should be eating and let's stop eating the foods that we should not be eating.'
"Part of the problem is that people have abdicated personal responsibility for their health
and in part that's because that they don't realize that they can be responsible for their own
health and that the choices they make do have an impact."
For the past 23 years, Harvest Market has served as a classroom of healing, alternatives
and answers -- a helpful kitchen of nutrition that provides so much more than fresh food
"Education has become a big part of who we are here," Kleszics said. "There is a lot of
information out there, and we provide people with the opportunity to sift through it and
see what makes sense for them and their families."
The Harvest Market is located at 7417 Lancaster Pike, Hockessin, De. 19707.
302-234-6779. Store hours are Monday - Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more
information about Harvest Market, visit www.HarvestMarketNaturalFoods.com .