Setting up an organic food outlet is just the beginning for the Fuller family of Whangarei.
Mark, Angela and Jasmine Fuller have opened Power Plant in the Civic Arcade, a wholefood and organic store with an in-house kitchen and foodbar.
Power Plant's main stocklines are organic grocery items including raw foods and dry goods such as gluten-free flour, bulk nuts, grains, seeds, superfoods and legumes.
The Fullers hope to add more fruit, vege and produce as supplies are sourced, and chiller space is added.
The kitchen – with chef Zee Tana at the helm who was a contestant in the 2012 NZ MasterChef series – is 100 per cent gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free and fully plant-based.
"It is believed to be the only eatery north of Auckland within these parameters," Jasmine said.
In the New Year the family intends to hold regular workshops and gatherings covering a variety of health and lifestyle topics.
The Fullers are no strangers to the organic and healthy food scene having been a trio in the six member committee running the highly successful Vegan Expo at Forum North recently.
Although the family is new to the grocery trade, daughter Jasmine has extensive retail experience as the owner of Mint Floral and winner of the retail customer choice award for the past two years at the Northland Business Excellence Awards.
"It has been a long-held dream of ours to run a food business, but as our lifestyles have changed, the plan for the business has changed too," Jasmine said.
"Originally we were planning a café/bar considerably different to this, but as we discovered the benefits of a plant-based and organic diet several years ago, the business has morphed into its healthier, current form."
Mark is unashamedly passionate about introducing the beginnings of an alternative food concept to Whangarei.
He said people are becoming weary of the pervasive corporate laboratory food model with demand for organic food growing world-wide at a rate of 10-15 per cent per year.
"Along with the expanding wave of people awakening to a plant-based diet, we felt that the time was right in Whangarei for a combined upmarket wholefood and organic shop with a foodbar similar to the models found in Auckland including Huckleberry's, Wise Cicada and Little Bird."
Support so far has been excellent, said Angela, with the universal feedback being that, "Whangarei has been needing something like this!" and people seem to be happy that the shop has brought some life and vitality back to a space that had been vacant for a long time.
"We are getting a lot of positive feedback about how wholesome, filling and delicious our offerings are," she said.
Chef Zee Tana recently returned home to Whangarei after spending time in Japan, Australia and Queenstown working at various cafes, restaurants and health retreats. He has an extensive knowledge of nutrition, flavour combinations and textures.
Located between the Forum North carpark and Bank St, Power Plant has a blackboard menu that changes daily but always includes a salad, savoury muffin, sweet muffin and another sweet treat that is often raw.
Only low GI date puree, maple syrup or coconut sugar are used as sweeteners.
Salads are a specialty and consist of a trio of three separate salads with a dressing, all in the same takeaway bowl, to provide a variation of textures and flavours.
Most of the fresh greens, herbs and edible flowers are supplied by a local organic grower whose property has been visited, inspected and approved.
All their food is freshly prepared into a chiller display cabinet where it is packed in enviro-friendly bio packaging ready to pick up and go.
At this stage all Power Plant's ready-to-go kitchen food is chilled but the intention is to add pies, hotpots and soups as summer transitions into autumn.