Proud of local produce

Tim Holbrook, center, was presented with an Award of Excellence on Friday, Sept. 27 by the Oregon Organic Coalition. The coalition’s secretary, Sue Schechter, left, hand-delivered the award, which Holbrook was nominated for by Oceana General Manager Rhonda Fry, right. (Photos by Stephanie Blair)

Oceana employee receives statewide award

NEWPORT — Oceana Natural Food Cooperative received a special guest on Friday, Sept. 27, from the Oregon Organic Coalition, who came to bestow an award onto the store’s produce manager: Tim Holbrook.

Regulars of the store may recognize Holbrook, who has been the produce manager since 2003. The manager credits Holbrook with building the reputation of his produce displays, which has made the produce department the top-selling department in the store — Oceana sold almost $400,000 of produce, alone, last year. But his favorite part of the job is less about money and more about people: making organic produce available.

“I think (eating) food is the most significant thing we do with our bodies on a daily basis,” said Holbrook. “And… it’s good food, actually. Organic often tastes better than non-organic items.”

Not only does Holbrook work with local growers and Organically Grown Company to ensure only top-quality, organically grown produce is sold in the store — he grows some of his own to contribute, including cucumbers and onions. He’s also known to recommend new produce items to customers — his favorite things in the store change with the seasons.

“It’s apples that are in now,” said Holbrook, “that’s the way to go.”

It’s this dedication to good food, the environment and sustainable practices which led the Oregon Organic Coalition to selecting Holbrook for a 2019 Award for Excellence in the “retailer” category.

Prior to presenting Holbrook with the award plaque, which resembled a cutting board in keeping with the produce theme, Oregon Organic Coalition Treasurer Sue Schechter told the News-Times that Holbrook was nominated by  the store’s general manager, Rhonda Fry, and her words were a big part of why he was selected for this award.

“It was what Rhonda wrote about him and how we evaluated through our system,” said Schechter.

That system includes taking into account “innovation … (and) how innovation has been implemented, how it impacts other sectors of the trade, growing awareness throughout the community, just trying to grow organic awareness,” Schechter explained.

Holbrook’s award-winning produce section can be found in the Oceana Natural Food Cooperative at 159 SE 2nd St in Newport. Oceana is a member-owned marketplace that promotes community and health through education and wholesome, environmentally sound products.

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