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Health & Wellness

Founders of CWE Farm publish “A Gift Garden”

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Health & Wellness Urban Gardens  Trinity Episcopal Church Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Culbert Gift Garden Fresh Food Foundation First Unitarian Church CWE Farm Central Reform Congregation Arthur Culbert

“It’s best to take the picture while we’re harvesting,” Arthur Culbert said, as he and his wife Nancy were hurriedly picking the last of the summer’s bounty grown at the CWE Farm to benefit neighborhood food pantries. With the first frost in the forecast, there was little time to pose for photos the morning I visited to learn more about the couple’s new book, A Gift Garden. The illustrated book, which the Culberts have been working on for the past 2 years, was inspired by their experience working with all the 4th graders who have participated in the “Citizens Making a Difference” curriculum at New City School.

The book launch is scheduled for this Monday, December 10, at The Mahler Ballroom (more information follows).

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Health & Wellness Urban Gardens  Trinity Episcopal Church Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Culbert Gift Garden Fresh Food Foundation First Unitarian Church CWE Farm Central Reform Congregation Arthur Culbert

Photos above: Arthur Culbert and 4th grade students at New City School.

Arthur started the CWE Farm 8 years ago on a vacant lot in the 5000 block of Waterman (just west of Kingshighway). Over the past 7 growing seasons the farm has produced approximately 16,000 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables for food pantries at Trinity Episcopal Church and Second Presbyterian Church. Tying the farm’s mission to eliminate hunger in the community to a program for neighborhood school children where they learn where food comes from, how to plant and grow it for those less fortunate to enjoy, was a brilliant idea and what inspired the Culberts to write A Gift Garden.

“We hope that the book will inspire others and initiate a movement working together towards eliminating hunger,” said Nancy, who co-authored the book aimed at a 4th grade reading level and up. They were able to work almost every vocabulary word that New City School 4th graders learn into the story. Arthur added that Nancy brought a magical touch to the writing.

The Culberts, who have been married for 11 years, have backgrounds in the public health arena. Arthur was dean of a public health program in Boston for 31 years before moving to St. Louis 13 years ago, and Nancy recently retired after 16 years as the Director of Student Services at the College for Public Health & Social Justice at SLU.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Health & Wellness Urban Gardens  Trinity Episcopal Church Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Culbert Gift Garden Fresh Food Foundation First Unitarian Church CWE Farm Central Reform Congregation Arthur Culbert

Central Reform Congregation and First Unitarian Church, which are neighbors of the CWE Farm, contribute vegetables from their own gardens to the CWE pantries as well. Together they have contributed an additional 1400 pounds of produce. Generous “alley” neighbors from Westminster Place have also joined the effort by contributing produce from their backyard gardens too.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Health & Wellness Urban Gardens  Trinity Episcopal Church Second Presbyterian Church Nancy Culbert Gift Garden Fresh Food Foundation First Unitarian Church CWE Farm Central Reform Congregation Arthur Culbert

December 10, the date of the book launch, coincides with the 70th anniversary of first proclamation of the Universal Declaration of  Human Rights which in Article 25 declares that everyone has a right to food.

In A Gift Garden, 10-year-old Bea, described as a super hero, declares: “Every person has a right to food,” as she and her friends develop a project to help feed the hungry. The book’s characters decide to become citizens making a difference and work toward planning, building and growing a community gift garden.

Tickets for A Gift Garden Book Launch at The Mahler Ballroom, 4915 Washington, $25 (for soft cover book) to $35 (for hardcover edition), include a copy of the book, a CWE Farm signature drink, light hors d’oeuvres, and music. At 7 p.m. there will be a reading by the authors followed by a Q & A led by KMOV reporter Alexis Zotos. Tickets are available on Eventbrite here. A Gift Garden will be available soon at Left Bank Books.

CWE Farm is a non-profit organization. Proceeds from Monday’s book launch benefit Gift Garden Fresh Food Foundation.

A seasoned Golden Grocer adds more spice

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Golden Grocer’s proprietor John LaRico, above, added a welcomed jolt of energy to his business last year when he hired dynamo Leah Cruz as manager. At 37 years in operation, Golden Grocer is one of the oldest businesses in the neighborhood. New Market Hardware tops the longevity list at 104 years. Left Bank Books comes in second at about 45. (LBB was located in U. City in its early years.)Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Golden Grocer opened in 1975 in a lower level space at 17 S. Euclid (underneath what is now the BBQ Saloon). LaRico soon expanded into an adjoining space where he opened a shoe store called The Foot Pleaser. In 1979-80 the business relocated and expanded into a 10,000 s.f. space at 4733 McPherson Ave., where Centro is now located.  LaRico asked if I remembered “Bern-Rico” which he opened next door, where he stocked everything Golden Grocer didn’t—meat, seafood, imported beers, wines, and a special counter for fancy cigarettes and cigars. There was a lobster tank, and a chef from Italy who prepared foods to go behind the deli counter. Other than the smokes, this sounds pretty wonderful, doesn’t it?

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer   Golden Grocer’s manager Leah Cruz, above, opened Vega Deli in Chesterfield and, in 2010, Pura Vegan in DeBaliviere Place at Pershing & Belt. Cruz created the raw foods served at Pura Vegan. She sold that business in 2012 (Pura Vegan Organic Cafe & Yoga is still open) and moved to California for a few years before returning to St. Louis and joining the team at Golden Grocer.

Cruz’s specialties include organic and gluten-free meals, desserts, and drinks. In the photograph above she’s holding a tray of her delicious homemade vegan, gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. She is considering offering cooking classes at Golden Grocer in the future.

In addition to her work as a caterer and chef, Cruz has been a health, nutrition and wellness coach for the past 10 years. She became a vegan 20 years ago after learning she had cancer. She cured herself of the disease and has been cancer-free ever since. Cruz now counsels people with health issues, helping them switch to a healthy plant-based diet. She also offers reasonably-priced 3, 5, & 7 day meal plans which can be ordered a day in advance and picked up at Golden Grocer. You can learn more about the meal plans and her services on her website: Love ‘n Light Wellness.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

One of the first things LaRico and Cruz collaborated on was the addition of an open kitchen and juice bar. They are now able to host events, giving local chefs and others in the community an opportunity to introduce their own natural foods and health and beauty products to the public. Information about an upcoming event can be found at the end of this post.

On the Monday I visited, Cruz had prepared a vegan, gluten-free menu for Meatless Monday. Usually Adina (not photographed) prepares the food on Mondays and for Taco Tuesdays. Food service is available from noon to 5 p.m., or until they sell out. A sample Meatless Monday menu follows:Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Ray Jon, above, runs the Juice Bar where he offers herbal drinks, smoothies, tonics, teas and juice cleanses.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer

Since the store has been rearranged I have rediscovered the herbal foods section, above, which is a great, inexpensive resource for loose tea, a large variety of dried herbs, and dried edible flowers such as lavender and rose buds.

This Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. Golden Grocer will host a Local Vendor International Pop-Up featuring Cruz’s Love ‘n Light Wellness and Cuisine, Theatre De La Rue, Adina’s Vegan Cuisine, Juicebox Rejuventation, Supreme Raw Organic, herbal smoothies, juices and elixirs, and Art by Carrie.

Golden Grocer, 335 N. Euclid, open Nicki's Central West End Guide Food and Drink Health & Wellness Shop News  Love n Light Wellness Leah Cruz John LaRico Golden Grocer   Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., (314) 367-0405.