Ten years ago, Prairie Harvest opened in Newton in a 900-square-foot Main Street storefront.


Ten years ago, Prairie Harvest opened in Newton in a 900-square-foot Main Street storefront.

After steadily building its inventory and customer base, the store relocated in 2005 to a storefront four times larger and added a kitchen to serve lunches and offer catering.

“The changes we’ve made over the years have been customer driven,” said co-owner and co-founder, Becky Nickel. “I can still see one regular customer in 2004 coming in our back door along with the cold wind saying, ‘Being able to buy a bowl of homemade soup from this store would be so wonderful!’ And there were other regulars who requested salads, sandwiches and wraps.”

In addition to moving to the larger retail space at 601 N. Main St., a kitchen for deli food was created to offer soup, sandwiches and wraps.

Later, the menu was expanded to include salads and desserts.

Two years ago, Prairie Harvest assumed the Prairie Room, a meeting space within the store, where catering is offered.

“Grocery has always been the bread-and-butter of our store, and the deli the gravy,” said Carrie Van Sickle, co-owner. “We’ve never wanted the deli to take over the grocery side of our store. Our philosophy is that people who cook at home from simple ingredients will enjoy better health. That’s why the products we stock have a short list of pronounceable ingredients.”

Nickel said the greater Newton community has been supportive of the Prairie Harvest concept since the beginning.

“There are some people who shop here every week at the same time and have done so since 2000,” she said. “I believe people are seeking an alternative to mainstream, processed foods. We credit my former business partner, Kathy Landis, for her passion for whole foods that have traveled only a short distance to reach our dinner tables.”