Nestled amid some of Central Oregon's most productive farmland, Troy Boyd and her husband Garry discovered a lack of natural food stores in Madras upon their arrival in the early 1990s. So they endeavored to do something about it.
"We wanted to start the business in order to offer healthy and organic food to Madras, because there were a lack of available quality food options in the area," Troy explains.
The Boyds opened Great Earth Bakery and Market in 1996, in a somewhat obscure spot in downtown, with a paltry 960 square feet to work with.
"We did collaborative work with Great Harvest Bakery in Bend," Troy says. "We would have to drive to Bend frequently to pickup bread, and then drive back to Madras to make and sell sandwiches."
A lack of space, a hard-to-visualize business location, and growing pains were just the beginning of what would prove to be a tumultuous journey. In the midst of the economic downturn, Garry was struck by a car en route to a business meeting in Madras. He survived with "significant" injuries and life—and work—as they knew it changed.
"The road to recovery has been difficult for us," Troy says, "both in terms of Garry's accident, and the business as a whole."
But neither of them wanted to throw in the towel, and they have pushed forward and overcome once again, as they continue establishing their brand of healthy and community-centric foodie goodness.
Today, they serve as a natural foods store, a café, and a catering company. Great Earth's menus feature many locally-sourced ingredients with options including homemade breakfasts, paninis, and smoothies. The Boyds have also been branching out by hosting special events in their space, such as lecture series on the history of Madras.
Their now-iconic role in the community was recently recognized by Travel Oregon, which included Great Harvest in its "Passport to Bounty" campaign, part of the larger "7 Wonders of Oregon" campaign, which many people mistook for an official designation.
Travel Oregon calls Great Earth a "regional must-see food attraction" in a release, saying it's one of three places tourists should stop while visiting nearby "Wonder," the Painted Hills.
Now located in a larger downtown spot, Great Earth has better customer access, visual recognition, and a significantly more room to move around. The wide-open space fills with the smell of fresh-baked (gluten-free and gluten-full) bread, and the shabby-chic décor lends a friendly, positive vibe.
The humble Madras location of Great Earth was chosen by Portland Executive Chef Gregory Gourdet (Departure Restaurant) to represent one of the seven wonders.
"We are excited and honored to be chosen as a destination by Chef Gourdet," Troy said in a release. "The Passport to Bounty is a fun way to encourage travelers to look for some great dining opportunities in our rural areas and smaller towns."
Not just a catchy name, the Passport involves collecting stickers at each of the participating locations—each of the Seven Wonders has a few. The other Painted Hills stops are Smudgie Goose Farm and Roan Coffee Co. Closer to Bend, Smith Rock State Park is represented by Terrebonne Depot, Sisters Bakery, and Crux Fermentation Project.
Great Earth Café and Market
46 SW D St., Madras
Monday-Friday: 7 am-6 pm
Saturday: 10 am-3 pm