The grocery store that Tam Valley residents have been seeking for more than five years officially has a “born on” date: March 9, 2016.

Good Earth Natural Foods will open its Tam Valley store at 201 Flamingo Road at 11am that day, thrilling a community that has seen its biggest building sit vacant since December 2010, when DeLano’s IGA Market closed the week as part of a series of closures for the grocery chain. Marin County Supervisor Kate Sears will be on hand for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Fairfax-based organic foods market Good Earth confirmed their intent to open a store in Tam Valley in September 2014 and worked with Santa Cruz-based C/D/M Crocker-Fry, which designed and built Good Earth’s 22,000-square-foot Fairfax store, on a “total renovation and aesthetic transformation of Shoreline Shopping Center’s grocery building.”

The company’s decision to open in Tam Valley capped a turbulent run for the former Delano’s space, one that included plans in 2012 by San Jose-based retail chain Orchard Supply Hardware to move in, an effort that was ultimately thwarted by a petition drive against it. One year later, Sprouts Farmer Market had a deal in place to move in but that fell through.

Good Earth’s Madeline Ross says that while the decision to open a second store was based on increasing demand for Good earth’s products and services, it’s also about the larger movement to avoid GMOs, reduce the use of pesticides, and promote sustainable practices by supporting organic farmers and local producers.

“The driving force of this new store is to continue to spread our mission,” she says. “We’re doing this to inspire and encourage more people to eat organic and non-GMO foods, and we’re hoping to spread our influence and push other stores to go all organic. We believe we can affect even more change, and Tam Valley is our perfect market to do so.”

Good Earth first opened in 1969 at 123 Bolinas Avenue in Fairfax, moving in 2000 to 1966 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and then opening its flagship store at 720 Center Blvd. in February 2012 “to meet the needs of our customers who requested a larger store with more selection store-wide, wider aisles, additional check-out stands, and indoor seating.”

Co-owner Mark Squire played a pioneering role in the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), one of the first independent organic certifiers in the country. He helped craft many of the original guidelines still in use today by the USDA National Organic Program. In 2007, along with two other retailers, Squire was instrumental in the creation of the Non-GMO Project, which provides retailers and consumers with third-party verification to enable people to safely select foods that are free from genetically modified organisms.

The new store will have approximately 175 employees, making it one of the largest employers in southern Marin. “Along with meeting the additional market demand for what we do, it brings me great pleasure knowing our staff will continue to grow too – this opportunity represents real leadership growth opportunities for many current Good Earthlings,” says co-owner Al Baylacq says.

Good Earth officials note that the new store was “created with the earth in mind,” with drought tolerant native plants as its landscaping, up-cycled reclaimed wood from the 50-year-old barrel roof for re-use throughout the project, artisan tiles made from 70 percent locally sourced recycled materials, LED lighting in the store governed by an energy management system with motion and light detection, 400 square feet of skylights to maximize natural light within the doors. The building also features solar panels and solar thermal for energy conversion. 

Squire says that while Marin County requires a rate of at least 50 percent rate of re-used and recycled materials, the Tam Valley store achieved a rate of 80 percent.

“At Good Earth, respect for the Earth is what we are all about, so we go out of our way to reduce our footprint whenever possible,” says Mark Squire, Partner.

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