Watson's Veggie Garden in Visalia
Jan 02, 2015 01:18AM
By Brandi Barnett
Do you ever have one of those days where you just feel…out of sorts? You know the sensation; when fatigue is dogging your body, while the stresses of the day plague your mind. Perhaps this will help: imagine yourself seated at a simple, outdoor café table in dappled sunlight. Grass grows under your feet, while a medley of lush flowers, edible herbs and soaring trees surrounds you. A few other people sit at similar tables scattered across this spacious, yet intimate garden; not too close to you, but not too far either. You are all gently enclosed by high walls, which are dressed thickly in ivy, and allow no sound from the outside world to filter in. The only things to hear, in fact, are the splashes of the nearby fountain, gentle conversation and your own name as it is called over the crackly outdoor speaker, announcing that a nourishing, handmade lunch is ready for you.
Feeling better? Well, get ready for another boost: this scene is not just an idyllic visualization to help lower your stress level; it’s a real place in the heart of Visalia: a combined vegetarian restaurant, health food market and vitamin/natural product shop whose proprietors have dedicated themselves to making sure that you have everything you need to be well. This is Watson’s Veggie Garden.
Owned and operated by eponymous couple Kim and Tim Watson, Watson’s Veggie Garden has been providing Visalia with real health and wellness options for more than 20 years. Despite its longstanding centralized location on Main Street just east of Redwood High School, Watson’s (and its dreamlike garden) has long been one of Visalia’s best-kept secrets. However, with awareness of the benefits of natural foods, remedies and products enjoying a recent renaissance, more people are discovering this local treasure trove of wellbeing.
Despite the explosive growth of the health food industry, Watson’s remains a true mom-and-pop operation. The Health Store and Eat Well Market are open every weekday from 9 am to 6 pm, and the deli serves food from 10 am to 4 pm. At any given moment, you will find both Kim and Tim on the proverbial deck, running just about every element of the show. Like the visionary pioneers that they are, they remain true to the philosophies that they started with. “We’re still old-school. We are still one-on-one with the customers. We’re still here every day. We’re here to serve Visalia, in a real sense of the word,” says Kim. “Back in the day, that’s what mom-and-pop health food stores did, you know? Provided everything that the individual needs to be well. Supplements, products, groceries and food that nourishes. These days it’s grown to be a bigger industry, but for us it’s not so much about that. For us, it’s always been about the customer.”
Tim nods in agreement. “I see this business as more of a community outreach than anything else,” he says. “A meeting place, really.”
Their commitment to their customers and their community runs deep. The market aspect of Watson’s has been in Tim’s family since the 1950s. In the early 1990s, Tim took the helm, and he and Kim established themselves at the location they occupy today. You will find Tim, soft-spoken and flaxen-haired, moving through the store-side aisles of vitamins and produce, answering questions and explaining products. But the deli is wholly Kim’s domain, and she throws herself behind it with far more energy than one would think is possible to be contained within her petite frame. From her original murals that adorn the walls to the carefully curated menu of her own plant-based recipes, Kim and her staff (which includes the Watsons’ youngest daughter) make real food with conviction, and complete the trifecta of holistic health that is at the heart of what Watson’s is all about. “We enjoy serving people,” says Tim. “Health is an exciting thing, and it’s meaningful for Kim and I to see people come in, whether they’re looking for a good meal, food for a specific diet or supplements…we are there to help them find what they need to take care of themselves. I mean, your health is the greatest asset that you have. And if we can give people the tools to protect that asset…it’s just awesome.”
the next time you feel in need of replenishment, remember that two secret
gardens await you. One, a physical place that is a peaceful and beautiful outdoor dining
experience in Visalia; and also a figurative one, that philosophy of life that
Tim and Kim have dedicated their lives to cultivating: creating your own
wellness, happiness, and beauty –from the roots up.
Watson’s Veggie Garden
Deli: (559) 635-7355
Market: (559) 732-3866
Store: (559) 732-3503