Nature's Food Patch in Clearwater gets long-needed expansion

Food and health knowledge are dished in comfort at Nature's Food Patch's new community room.

The addition of a new community room to Clearwater’s Nature’s Food Patch market and café is getting some positive attention from loyal shoppers and community members alike.

The health food mecca has served Clearwater and Pinellas County for decades, providing specialty foods and local and organic produce long before chain stores came to the area. Since the beginning, health education through classes and seminars has been a distinct part of the founders’ recipe for community involvement. The only thing the grocery store lacked was a proper place to host large groups of people.

Cheryl Rosselle, marketing director for Nature’s Food Patch, said classes started small and kept growing over the years.

“We’ve been hosting classes since I can remember,” Rosselle said. “When we moved to our current spot on Cleveland Street, we built a demo station, a little counter with a sink and stove. People loved it.”

According to Rosselle, the format worked great at first, but as class sizes increased, attendants complained they couldn’t hear, and customers complained the classes interfered with their shopping.

Patch management tried moving the gatherings to the café, which worked better than the end of an aisle. Classes continued to expand, though, and they had to compete with the daily lunch and dinner rush. Rosselle said the space wasn’t feasible for other event ideas people showed interest in, either, such as yoga and musical meetups.

A breakthrough came last September when the storefront next door became vacant. The market then secured the building, announcing plans for the Patch Works Community Room, an all-purpose meeting place. Patch Works opened in January after several months of renovation, and the room has been host to a continuous lineup of events ever since.

Inside, the wood-paneled space features a classroom environment with the right balance of spacious and cozy. Seminars and classes range from wine tasting and vegan and vegetarian cooking to gardening and health for people and pets.

Several classes meet monthly, including a permaculture group and The Reynolds’ Kitchen, a dairy- and gluten-free culinary class based on Chinese medicine. The planning group for the Clearwater Community Gardens, sponsored in part by Nature’s Food Patch and located directly across the street, also meets at Patch Works every month. Regular non-food meetups include a book club and a song circle.

While Nature’s Food Patch sponsors most of the events, the space is also available for private rentals. Several local organizations, the City of Clearwater and the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce among them, have already used the space for meetings and seminars.

“Now that we have the space we can do so much more,” Rosselle said.

The store's expansion is allowing customers, community members and local chefs to exchange and enhance their culinary and health knowledge — in comfort.

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