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Education is the Foundation of Sonnewald

Sep 01, 2020 06:26PM ● By Gisele M. Siebold
As founders of Sonnewald Farm and Sonnewald Natural Foods, the Lefever family’s spiritual nature existed in harmony with scientific curiosity. Their ongoing quest for learning led them to further develop an understanding of naturally working with Earth’s elements of soil, air and water to grow food, nourish the body and feed the spirit. Enriching both the knowledge and emotional well-being of the community has been their dedicated path through the years.


Tim Lefever used science to understand how different things affected the human body and the land. His scientific curiosity led him to seek out chemical-free methods and handle soil amendments for the 65-acre Sonnewald Farm, as well as build an on-site solar home.

“The Sonnewald store sits the way it does because it is oriented to the sun,” explains Willa Lefever who, with her husband Bill Kaiser, carries on the legacy that her parents began. “The building is 100 by 100; the store is 8000 square feet and the residence is 1500 square feet. It is a very unique design. The residence—I call it the elegant mobile home—is long and skinny across the back, and that’s where all the sun is; remember, you don’t want the sun on your products if you have a grocery store.”

She notes, “It is all designed very sustainably. From 9 to 5, the residence becomes part of the store. The rooms of the house become multi-purpose during business hours. Our living room and dining room becomes a conference room because we can gather at the oval table.”

The principles that founders Tim and Grace Lefever established remain the same for the Sonnewald team today, i.e., that natural is the best option. “We feel that we have a responsibility to raise the awareness of the community to help improve the quality of life. We are called to be good stewards of our bodies and the Earth,” says Willa.

“The foundation of Sonnewald is education. We help customers find their own truth about sustainable living,” she states. “Just because we don’t believe it today or that we are not comfortable with it today, doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t the truth. Years ago, things like organic farming, recycling and composting were controversial. But now we accept those things as being important and necessary.

“Our success at Sonnewald is built on a passion for helping people, pure motives, impeccable integrity, strong morals, quality products and honest information,” shares Willa. “We are a retail store with the heart of a ministry. My parents accepted running Sonnewald Natural Foods as a divine assignment. Bill and I carried this forward. We take our work at Sonnewald very seriously. We feel like it is a spiritual assignment, and we are now working diligently to prepare the way to hand it over when the time comes. The Sonnewald Life Institute will carry on the legacy of Sonnewald after we are gone.”

The purposes of the Sonnewald Life Institute align with the vision of paying it forward. “We are committed to living gently on the Earth, and we celebrate differences by seeking unity, harmony and peace,” affirms Willa. “By cultivating awareness and encouraging positive action, we support lifelong learning.”

Sonnewald’s legacy provides the foundation for future generations to engage in pioneering natural methods that maintain the integrity of the land in its natural form and inspire the spirit of the people that are entrusted to be its stewards.

Sonnewald Natural Foods is located at 4796 Lehman Rd., in Spring Grove. For more information, call 717-225-3825 or visit Sonnewald.org.