An all-vegan cafe is taking root in downtown Amherst

AMHERST — The Humble Peach, located on the former Henion Bakery site on Amherst’s North Pleasant Street, claims to be the first all-vegan establishment in the socially conscious city. But the owners say their mission is not simply to promote veganism, but a more sustainable way of eating and living.

“It’s not as simple as just not eating meat,” says Jett Craze, who co-owns The Humble Peach with Jenna Gigliotti. “There are some amazing farms here, and I would never tell those people that they shouldn’t be raising eggs or chickens or whatever. It’s not really about that. It’s about really thinking about where the food comes from.”

Craze and Gigliotti, who opened their restaurant in May, hope to show their customers that sustainable eating does not mean sacrificing how good food tastes. The Humble Peach serves up baked goods such as cakes, muffins, and banana bread, plus smoothies, coffee, and sandwiches to give the small space a cafeteria vibe. The establishment also makes its own vegan dog treats based on turmeric, flax, peanut butter, oats, and carrots (and, as the website says, are fit for human consumption).

To ensure that the products sold are sustainable, Craze and Gigliotti have partnered with various farms and growers in the Western Massachusetts area to source all of their ingredients locally. This includes the sale of solar-powered maple syrup from Sunrise Farms in Colrain, organic coffee beans from Dean’s Beans in Orange, and fruits and vegetables from Astarte Farms in Hadley.

“We’re very lucky in this area because there are so many great farms that have such amazing produce,” says Gigliotti, “particularly in the summer, but even in the winter you can get local vegetables all season long.”

Craze and Gigliotti, Amherst residents for the past five years, aspired to open their own cafeteria that reflected their sustainable food lifestyle. The name “The Humble Peach” was derived from a peach tree the Folly planted on his property several years ago, which in its first year produced only one peach.

“It’s kind of an oxymoron, in that a peach is more of a fancy fruit,” Craze said. “To me, he represents an incredible person but also a humble one.”

When the owners of the former Henion Bakery announced they were retiring, Craze and Gigliotti saw an opportunity to move their business onto the property.

The Humble Peach, currently closed for the holidays until January 25, is open Thursday through Sunday, although they will accept some special orders for birthday cakes or the like during the holidays; email [email protected] to make a request.

Craze is an advocate for sustainable living, such as trying to get more sustainable food options at local schools and universities, and plans to sell his granola to other retailers.

“What really drives us is the goal of really changing the way people eat,” Craze said. “I want to do something with my life that has a positive impact on the world, and this is just what we have chosen.”

Gigliotti, a former plant-based cooking instructor, says she also hopes to resume that activity in Amherst to educate people on how to prepare sustainable food.

“We can’t do that in our little commercial kitchen here,” he said. “But it’s definitely something I’d like to do again in the future, if I have access to some kind of community or even private kitchen here.”

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