From ‘humble’ beginnings: A fully-vegan cafe is growing its roots in downtown Amherst
|Published: 01-04-2023 8:55 PM
AMHERST — The Humble Peach, located at the former site of the Henion Bakery on Amherst’s North Pleasant Street, lays claim to the first fully vegan establishment in the socially conscious town. But the owners say that their mission isn’t merely to promote veganism, but rather a more sustainable form of eating and living.
“It’s not as simple as just not eating meat,” says Jett Craze, who along with Jenna Gigliotti serves as co-owner of The Humble Peach. “There’s some amazing farms out here, and I would never tell those people they shouldn’t be raising eggs or chickens or whatever. It’s not really about that. It’s about really thinking about where your food comes from.”
Craze and Gigliotti, who opened their eatery in May, hope to show their customers that sustainable eating does not mean a sacrifice of good-tasting food. The Humble Peach serves baked goods, such as pies, cupcakes and banana bread, in addition to smoothies, coffee and sandwiches to give the small space a café vibe. The establishment also makes its own vegan dog treats made out of turmeric, flax, peanut butter, oat and carrot (and, as the website states, they are suitable for human consumption).
In order to ensure that products sold are sustainable, Craze and Gigliotti have partnered with several farms and producers in the western Massachusetts area to get all of their ingredients locally. This includes selling maple syrup produced via solar power from Sunrise Farms in Colrain, organic coffee beans from Dean’s Beans in Orange, and fruit and vegetables from Astarte Farms in Hadley.
“We are really lucky in this area that there are so many great farms that have such incredible produce,” says Gigliotti, “particularly in the summer, but even in winter you can get local greens all season long.”
Residents of Amherst for the past five years, Craze and Gigliotti aspired to open their own café that reflected their sustainable foods lifestyle. The name “The Humble Peach” was derived from a peach tree that craze planted on his property several years ago, that in its first year produced only a single peach.
“It’s kind of an oxymoron, since a peach is more of a fancy fruit,” said Craze. “To me, it represents a person that’s amazing but also humble.”
When the owners of the former Henion Bakery announced they were retiring, Craze and Gigliotti saw their chance to move their business into the property.
The Humble Peach — currently closed for a holiday break until Jan. 25 — is otherwise open from Thursday to Sunday, although they will be accepting some special orders forbirthday cakes or the like during the break; email info@thehumblepeach to make a request.
Craze is an advocate for sustainable living, such as trying to get more sustainable food options in local schools and universities, and plans to sell its granola to other retailers.
“What really drives us is the goal to really change the way people eat,” said Craze. “I want to do something with my life that will positively impact the world, and this is just what we’ve chosen.”
Gigliotti, a former instructor in plant-based cooking, says she also hopes to resume that activity in Amherst to educate people about how to prepare sustainable foods.
“We’re not able to do that in our small commercial kitchen here,” she said. “But that’s definitely something I’d like to do in the future again, if I have access to some sort of community kitchen or even for private individuals here.”