Peggy Zwerver and Tom Baker, owners of Mount Airy’s Earth Bread + Brewery restaurant, have been brewing beer for more than 10 years. But not all home brewers are as socially and environmentally conscious as this duo has proven to be.
After owning an industrial brewery in New Jersey for seven years, the couple decided it was time to test their luck in retail.
So in October 2008, Zwerver and Baker brought their passion to Philadelphia, where they already distributed and had a good reputation for their beers at 7136 Germantown Ave.
Over the last three years, Zwerver and Baker have faced and transcended many challenges associated with restaurant ownership. But during these times, their devotion to sustainability and the community never ceased.
“We’re most proud of our waste stream and how little we put into the landfill,” Zwerver said. “We recycle everything that you can recycle and all the organic waste is composted. We put maybe five household trash bins out per week.”
The restaurant uses chlorine-free napkins made from recycled paper and biodegradable, corn-made kid’s cups, lids and straws to allow for easier composting.
In addition, nearly all the material used in the reconstruction of the restaurant has been reused and recycled, including the wrought-iron railing, hardwood floors and decorative chandeliers.
“It makes sense when you’re building now anyway because who can afford brand spanking new everything?” Zwerver asked. “Why not reuse what’s available?…These [stools] are basically the only thing I bought new.”
Community involvement and support have also been founding sentiments of Earth.
The restaurant hosts many fundraising events in which local nonprofits, like Dignity Housing, are invited to bring their organizations to the brewery for a flatbread and beer and a portion of the proceeds is then returned to the group. Non-perishables and cell phones are also collected at the restaurant and are then donated to local charities.
In addition, the couple purchases 100 percent organic wheat dough for the restaurant’s flatbreads at the local Annville Mill in Lebanon County. During growing season, produce is also purchased locally.
Zwerver and Baker also show their support for local artists through their exhibiting drawings and paintings at the restaurant, many being sold with no request for commission.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Zwerver said. “Why would you have a business in a neighborhood and not support the people around it? Your neighborhood is supporting you so you need to give back.”