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The Sonnewald Way: Creating Community and Connection

Nov 27, 2020 08:28AM ● By Gisele M. Siebold
Sonnewald Natural Foods has been creating a sense of community since 1955. Connections have formed naturally through the years because the owners and team members have developed a rapport with customers and treat them like family. The store is tailored to customer needs and items on the shelves reflect customers’ requests; special orders are also taken. Collaboration is central to Sonnewald’s core day-to-day operation because the goal is to engage those affected by their decisions, including team members, customers and the community.


Sonnewald’s core values are SEEDS: sustainability, education, empowerment, diversity and service, which grew out of the founding vision of peace and regenerative living. Extra steps are taken to inform and educate about the products, and where and how they are sourced. Diversity is welcomed and fair trade is supported.


Shoppers are encouraged to live sustainably and support the community in which they live. Sonnewald’s owners and team members even encourage out-of-state customers to support the stores in their area because they believe that supporting small businesses makes the local economy stronger. For every $100 spent, small businesses like Sonnewald generate $68 of the local economic return. This creates a thriving community that prospers with more job growth, resulting in a healthier community overall.


The Sonnewald community is more than the natural foods store. It is an interwoven, sustainable ecosystem. Events at the store and on the farm welcome the public to participate and learn, as well as walk along the trails in the surrounding landscape.


Community outreach is facilitated through The Sonnewald Exchange, a registered Little Free Library that provides a place to freely exchange books and obtain literature. It is located inside the South Building at Morningstar Marketplace, in Thomasville. Free literature about health and living sustainably is also shared through the information stand located at York Central Market.


The Friends of Sonnewald Facebook group invites people to become part of the community. The Sonnewald community also helped to create the following groups: Southcentral PA/MD Farm-To-Consumer Alliance Facebook group, Concerned Citizens of North Codorous Township, and Residents and Friends of North Codorus Facebook Group. For twenty years, Sonnewald has sponsored the York Weatherline providing weather forecasts and information to community members by phone.


According to Sonnewald employees, working there and being part of the team feels like family. Serving the community has always been the Sonnewald way. Valued, trusted, lasting friendships and relationships have developed with customers over the years. The personal, small business approach of caring about community members first rather than an economic return on investment, like many large corporate chains, has resulted in numerous thank-you notes and testimonials. Sonnewald always has an open door, an open heart and open ears, and customers feel confident to come to Sonnewald to receive health rebuilding and life-affirming direction.


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


Sonnewald Exchange is located at 5309 Lincoln Hwy., in Thomasville. For more information, visit


York Central Market is located at 34 W. Philadelphia St., in York. For more information, visit See ad, back cover.