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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Judy Gibson’s Just Sprouted Juice Bar & Healthy Café

Feb 25, 2015 01:57PM ● By Brandi Barnett

A Focus on Thriving

March 2015
By Fache Desrochers
Photos: Josiah Alter

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” For all its official pomp and circumstance, this definition is highly intuitive, wonderfully holistic and absolutely true. To be healthy is to be like a thriving plant: sowed with care, watered with love and blooming beautifully where you are planted. This layered nature of health is something that Judy Gibson has understood, valued and practiced throughout her life. And now, as the proprietor of the Exeter café Just Sprouted, she is on a mission to bring the joy of health to full flower, right here on the Valley floor.
“The first motivation for Just Sprouted was family,” says Gibson.“My dad got cancer, so I started juicing for him because it was the only thing he could hold down. He ended up passing away, but I feel so privileged to have been able to help him during that time. And before he passed, he made me promise that I would do something to help other people.”
True to her word, Gibson started asking around to find out what Exeter locals wanted to see in the community, and voice after voice chimed in for a healthy café. But not just any healthy café; it seemed that people were hungry for a place where the philosophy of health would be not merely practiced, but actively celebrated. This desire resonated richly with Gibson, who understood exactly what her friends and neighbors were looking for, and precisely how to bring it to them. “We wanted this to be a place where you would feel good from the minute you walk in the door, and then feel even better as you go throughout the day,” says Gibson.
Just Sprouted focuses on food that is fresh, seasonal, locally sourced, and as pesticide-free and organic as possible. Honing in on local resources for her menu’s ingredients was of utmost importance to Gibson. “We are an agricultural mecca, but we ship almost all of our food to the rest of the world,” she says.“We have all this wonderful produce around us, and I want to take advantage of it as much as I can.” And so she does. Just Sprouted’s menu is wonderfully robust, with a wealth of fresh soups, salads, sandwiches, snacks, smoothies and hand-pressed juices to tempt any palate. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options are abundant, and the café’s offerings are constantly evolving in response to suggestions from customers and friends.
And if you can’t get out to Exeter as often as you’d like, you’re in luck: Just Sprouted is now a regular fixture at the Visalia farmer’s market. Gibson and her staff are there on Saturday mornings, and will also be present at the upcoming Thursday evening markets, serving bottled juices, sandwiches and even soups in the colder months.
Although Just Sprouted is still a young business (having opened only last April), Gibson and her vision have accelerated quickly past the seedling phase, with a whole host of plans for the café’s future, including handmade, fresh, locally sourced baby food available for purchase; plans for a back garden for the café; the introduction of private, hand-prepared farm-to-table dinners; and a possible expansion into a second Valley location.
Gibson has also concentrated her focus on a cherished idea for a community-oriented food movement that she has affectionately named Sprouting Together. “We are looking to expand into a community garden and test kitchen to teach people how to grow their own food, and then prepare it as well,” enthuses Gibson.“The purpose is to provide a way for people to come together and experience the joy and the beauty of food from start to finish.”
The future is busy and resplendent for Just Sprouted – as well it should be. But although Gibson is excited for growth, her priority is to keep her establishment’s initial philosophy of healing and helping at the forefront. “We do have plans to expand, but we wanted to make sure we took root here first,” explains Gibson.“We’re a part of people’s day here, a part of their lives, and I don’t ever want to lose that essence. We want to be the place where someone comes to feel comfortable.” She pauses, casts a glance around the café’s bright, welcoming interior, and smiles deeply. “Sometimes, some of our regulars will come in and sit here for hours, and it just makes me feel so good. That feeling is exactly why I started Just Sprouted, and why we do what we do.”

Just Sprouted Juice Bar & Healthy Café • (559) 936-7056
114 N. E Street, Exeter • Hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 am-5:30 pm,
Sat 9 am-3 pm, Sat. Visalia Farmers Market 7 am-11 am
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