The Urban Store has been open since January and is the brainchild of Kathy Isaacson and co-owner Chuck Alex. The Nob Hill shop, on Silver, is deceptively ordinary. Issacson sports a T-shirt bearing the store’s working philosophy—“grow, eat, return.” How simple is that?
The store is where seekers of a sustainable lifestyle can find two of the most knowledgeable people in the business. Isaacson earned her master’s degree in communications at the University of New Mexico and parlayed her studies into a lucrative career in mediation. Her work propelled her into projects with Biosphere in Arizona, community development in the colonias of Juárez and consultation with the Navajo Nation. She and Alex were recently awarded a sustainability grant to work with Bernalillo County. Their mandate is to help the community on Pajarito Mesa make the most of meager resources.
Alex mastered in divinity at Duke University and followed his calling to Albuquerque’s Center for Action and Contemplation, where he worked in the garden—an integral part of the center’s commitment to sustainable living. Alex met Isaacson when she hired him to work with her on the Navajo project. He began making Urban Gardens about five years ago, a grow-your-own solution for city dwellers with limited space. His mobile Urban Coop (for two hens) came later.
Their store offers books, equipment, gardening supplies, cooking appliances and enthusiastic support for a sustainable lifestyle. I can’t tell you it begins with the earthworms, or water catchment, or food preparation, because all of these products support the natural cycles of growth and decay.
I was excited to see shelves full of organic, open-pollinated seeds—in bulk as well as pre-packed. There are many kinds of water catchment systems. The Urban Store barrels are made from food-grade virgin polyethylene and are UV protected. The new models of the Urban Garden—units complete with drip irrigation and two covers for year-round harvest—are also molded from the food-grade resin, and will last for 30 or more years compared to the 10 years of the wooden model.
On one visit to the Urban Store, the smell of ham and pea soup wafted through the parking lot from a solar cooker. The “oven” thermometer registered 350 degrees, and the stew was nearly done. There are dehydrators, yogurt makers, sprouters and food preservation appliances, as well as excellent books to help with everything from DIY cheese-making to fermenting your own Japanese-style tsukemono (pickles).
And the next time you visit the Old Town Pizza Parlor, check out the ingredients on your favorite pie. The parlor was one of the first customers for the Urban Garden. Now the restaurant grows its own basil and other herbs for fresh-picked flavor. Nob Hill Bar and Grill will soon have two rooftop units to augment its menu, and Ecco Gelato keeps a unit going.
Ecology, economy and good food have never been more critical than now. Make the most of your resources with a visit to the Urban Store.