Phinney’s Creates Locally Sourced, Community-Supported Grocery Program
Phinney’s, a local grocery store that specializes in local ingredients and high-quality pantry items, introduced its community supported grocery program earlier this year, to the delight of many foodies.
Husband and wife duo Stephen Forgione and Gayle Miner live in Newtown and own the store, which shares space in Highland Plaza at 125 South Main Street with Butcher’s Best. Miner said that the program offers four tiers of options, depending on people’s preferences and lifestyle.
“We know for a lot of folks they want to support local, eat local, they want that diversity in their diet, but sometimes being able to actually access that sort of food is difficult unless you go to the farmers market, or you already belong to some sort of CSA program,” Miner said. “It can be challenging to eat locally.”
They offer “The Full Phinney’s,” a weekly option that includes a dinner made by Forgione, a curated produce box with contents that vary each week, a dozen eggs, a dairy choice (a half-gallon of Calf & Clover raw milk, a quart of Calf & Clover yogurt, or a quart of Willa’s oat milk), and a loaf of Kneads bread.
Those who would prefer just the prepared dinner option can sign up for Phinney’s “Dinner Club.” It offers three choices: a weekly meal serving two adults, four adults, or six adults.
The popular “Grocery Haul” option includes everything from The Full Phinney’s, minus the prepared dinner.
And lastly, the weekly “Essentials” selection provides a curated produce box with contents that vary each week plus a choice of two of the following: a dozen eggs, a half-gallon of Calf & Clover raw milk, Calf & Clover yogurt, Willa’s oat milk, or a loaf of Kneads bread.
‘A Lot Of Variety’
Miner says the Dinner Club tier came first; it started back in January, after many people were requesting it.
“We have a lot of regulars who were getting the meal every week, and we wanted to give them the option to sign up, so they didn’t have to worry about signing up every week and were locked in,” she explained.
Phinney’s prepared meals have gained quite the following thanks to Forgione’s skills and creativity.
“He went to culinary school and cooked professionally for a while, so his background is more as a chef… the space that we do have in town includes a full kitchen. He loves to cook, so we wanted to take advantage of that and at least do dinner once a week. A lot of the meal inspiration comes from him and what he is excited about cooking and wants to cook,” Miner said.
Past meals have included chicken legs, fennel sausage, alubia blanca beans, tomato and caramelized fennel, tender greens, lemon vinaigrette and sunflower, and a whole wheat baguette; build-your-own duck sandwiches, Torres potato chips and French shallot dip, and Topo Chico sparkling water; and coq au riesling, radishes and arugula butter, herbed spring salad, and whole wheat olive ficelle.
“It all ranges. We don’t stick to any one type of cuisine,” Miner explained. “Sometimes we will do something more Asian inspired, or French, or Italian, kind of depending on what is in season, but we really love the full gambit.”
Those looking to feast their eyes can visit Phinney’s social media for the weekly Dinner Club photos that Miner takes.
As for the Grocery Haul boxes, that option became available in the springtime when farmers began producing and harvesting their food.
“We launched it in April and the first boxes were available for pickup in May,” Miner said.
The store prioritizes getting goods locally and sources items from several different farms throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.
“We wanted to provide an option to have a weekly produce box. We’ve already done the work for you in terms of pulling from all these different farmers,” she added. “There’s a lot of variety.”
A recent Grocery Haul in August, for example, included a whole array of heirloom tomatoes, a selection of carrots, purple kale, cucumbers — both green and a white variety — blueberries, plums, cauliflower, spinach, and onion and garlic.
Miner and Forgione like to include a kitchen staple — such as onion, garlic, celery, or lemons — in the weekly boxes, too, as a way to help participants create meals.
“We also include recipes, because we know sometimes it’s hard to come up with what to do with certain products,” Miner said.
As for the additional essentials, Phinney’s gets its bread from Kneads Bakery in Westport, where the flour is milled on site and the bread is baked the same day people receive their Grocery Haul boxes. The milk, yogurt, and eggs, come from a small farm in Cornwall Bridge.
Every Friday, participants receive an e-mail from Phinney’s with a preview of what they will get that week.
People can pick up Dinner Club meals on Thursdays between 5 and 6 pm and Grocery Haul boxes inside Phinney’s on Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm.
If a subscriber needs a time earlier or later one week, Miner says, “We are always happy to accommodate with a little bit of notice.”
To sign up, visit the membership page at phinneysnewtown.com and fill out the submission form at the bottom. Miner will then reach out directly to the individual to complete the registration for the program.
“We do ask, for anyone who signs up, to let us know of any allergies, specific dietary restrictions. We are obviously happy to work around those,” Miner said.
Phinney’s is currently offering a special discount for new members. Those who sign up now through the end of the year can receive 10% off their first month of the program.
There is a different monthly fee for each tier of the community supported grocery program.
Miner added, “Yes, we do these dinners and yes, we offer these boxes, but beyond that we are also a grocery store that is open through the week… If you are someone who loves to cook or is excited about food and interested in food, we are, too, and we love talking to people about that.”
Longtime Newtown resident Susan Osborne White — as well as her many of her family members and neighbors — has been enjoying Phinney’s Dinner Club every Thursday since the first day it was offered.
“We love the variety of the fabulous meals as well as the convenience. But to me, as someone who loves to cook, every week I look forward to the new taste combinations that Steve and Gayle put together. They are so creative and make meals fun as well as mouthwatering,” White said. “It’s better than most meals out, and we eat it in the comfort of our home!”
When she stops by the store, one of her favorite parts of the visit is getting to talk with the owners about the all the seasonal veggies and food they have to offer.
White added that an important reason she loves being part of the community supported grocery program is, “It’s local food, from local vendors put together by locals for all!”
Another resident who is thrilled to be taking part in the community supported grocery program is Lexi Bergeron. She has been getting the weekly Grocery Haul since May.
“Unlike other CSA’s I’ve been part of, Phinney’s is really good at rotating crops, so you never get the same thing twice, and there’s always a lovely surprise, like a crusty sourdough loaf or farm-fresh peaches,” Bergeron said.
She also looks forward to her visit to get to chat with the owners.
“Steve and Gayle are really personable and always make my Saturdays a bit more cheery,” Bergeron said. “They’re both happy to talk you through what’s in your box and offer simple, nourishing dinner suggestions.”
Phinney’s is currently open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm; and Sunday, 10 am to 3 pm. The market is closed Monday and Tuesday.
To learn more about Phinney’s and sign up for the community supported grocery program, visit phinneysnewtown.com or call 203-270-6060.
Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.