Member of Edible Communities
Issue No. 21
Celebrating Local Foods, Season by Season
Good Food, Great Business
SPRING JUICES • FARMWORKERS’ RIGHTS • WILDFLOWER PILGRIMAGE BLUE OWL EMPORIUM • FOLSOM & PINE • RED TWIG FARMS
6 9 14 16 18 22 25 26 30 34 46 57 59 62 64
Folsom & Pine
The evolution of a family farm into a thriving,
Letter from the Editor
local business By Claire Hoppens
Notable Edibles Local and In Season
Red Twig Farms Cultivating peonies, people, and proﬁt By Molly Hays, Photography by Catherine Murray
From the Kitchen Behind the Bottle
Where Are They Now? A look at some of Edible
folks and the good food work they’re
cultivating in Central Ohio By Colleen Leonardi
Worth the Trip
From the Good Earth
12 Good Reasons to Start a Food Business By Susie Wyshak
From a Farmer’s Perspective
In the Garden
Advertiser Directory Last Seed
Carrots in an Orange Honey Rosemary Glaze Herb Salad Grain Bowl Turmeric Lemongrass Lemonade & Cocktail Strawberry Rose Juice & Cocktail
Cover Photo by © Ryan Benyi, ryanbenyi.com, styled by Bridget Henry, bridgethenry.com
This page Photo by © Ryan Benyi, ryanbenyi.com, styled by Bridget Henry, bridgethenry.com
letter from the Publisher
edible Columbus “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” —Margaret Atwood
Publisher & Editor in Chief
Tricia Wheeler Managing Editor & Editor
Colleen Leonardi Digital & Communications Director
Alexandria Misch Recipe Editor
Sarah Lagrotteria Copy Editors
Doug Adrianson • Susanna Cantor Editorial Intern
Danielle Vilaplana Design
Melissa Petersen Business Development
Over the years readers have asked us what they can do to support the publication. After much thought this spring we are launching our first “Friends of Edible Plant Sale.” The seeds have already been cultivated and the plants are under the care of Folsom & Pine. They have been lovingly cared for in their greenhouses on the Southside of Columbus. We bring you the story of Folsom & Pine on page 36. Their story is one of innovation, serendipity, and two cousins’ hard work to save their family farm. We worked with Folsom & Pine to create three special flats for our first plant sale—the perfect herb garden, edible flowers, and a flat of cocktail garden plants. These flats will all come with recipes, growing tips, and pick-up times that include special parties and events at our cooking 4
school, The Seasoned Farmhouse. See page 5 for all the details. Flats are available for pre-order on our website at ediblecbus.com/friendofedible. Each plant sale will support Folsom & Pine and Edible Columbus. These plant sales will help us bring more complimentary copies of edible to our community. At edible we talk a lot about the simple pleasures in life. For me the pleasure of cooking with my own fresh herbs, cutting flowering branches to arrange for my table, and watching my garden take shape are some of the gifts I treasure most in the spring. I hope this issue of Edible Columbus gives you plenty of inspiration and ideas on how to enjoy the season. I hope to meet you Mother’s Day weekend at our “Antique & Garden Sale,” or at one of our plant sale events.
Sarah Maggied Contributors
Michelle Barnes • Ryan Benyi • Bryn Bird Tim Daniel • Nijma Darwish • Bridget Henry Molly Hays • Claire Hoppens Debra Knapke • Sarah Lagrotteria Colleen Leonardi • Jodi Miller Dinty W. Moore • Catherine Murray Robin Oatts • Nicole Rasul Nicolene Schwartz • Carole Topalian Danielle Vilaplana • Stephanie Wapner Teresa Woodard Contact Us
P.O. Box 21-8376, Columbus, Ohio 43221 firstname.lastname@example.org ediblecolumbus.com Edible Columbus
@ediblecolumbus Advertising Inquiries
Edible Columbus is published quarterly and distributed throughout Central Ohio. Subscription rate is $25 annually. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be used without written permission from the publisher. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our sincere apologies and notify us. Thank you.
PHOTO By © CATHeRIne MuRRAy, PHOTOkITCHen.neT
his issue marks our sixth anniversary. Five years ago in spring of 2010, we started telling stories that we hoped would inspire, educate, and bring a touch of beauty to our readers. When we started people would ask me if I was worried about running out of stories. That is the thing I never worry about. We have an abundance of stories to tell each season. Our community is rich with interesting people, unique businesses, farms that need our support, topics that should be debated and discussed, and issues that need careful consideration.
ow many times have you had a great seed of an idea and wanted to manifest your great idea, only to, in the next moment, move onto another thought? The great seed dissipates and becomes soil for something else. This is the story of my life.
“I have great faith in a seed.” —Henry David Thoreau
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When I began digging through the dirt of our spring issue and talking to farmers and producers, I was reminded that despite a great idea’s potential and resiliency, unless there is a sound infrastructure to support it, it has nowhere to grow. Our sixth anniversary spring issue focuses on what it takes to make great food ideas, businesses, and farms grow and thrive. From Red Twig Farms (page 41) and Folsom & Pine (page 36), to Blue Owl Garden Emporium (page 30) and Alchemy Juice Café (page 46), we look at contemporary approaches to establishing farm-based, food-based businesses and making them viable for the long run in sustainable, ethical ways. We also look back on our past five years to ask the question of some of our favorite farmers and food producers: Where are you now? From Wayward Seed (who graced the pages of our very first issue!) to Al Dolder at Stonefield Naturals (page 48), I spent time this winter having thoughtful conversations about the landscape of local foods in Central Ohio and the challenges and successes each farm and business has faced. What struck me as the most important thread running through all eight of my interviews was how each farm and business has not only grown but created enough of an infrastructure to mentor and model other upstarts in the local food community. It speaks to how scaling up your farm or business doesn’t simply benefit you. It benefits a whole culture of growers, producers, farmers, and entrepreneurs, and a consciousness within that culture to truly turn the dial on the future of food. We’re thrilled to feature an excerpt from the new book Good Food, Great Business: How to take your artisan food idea from concept to marketplace by Susie Wyshak (page 54) to offer a national view of how other food entrepreneurs are approaching the prospect of starting their own business. And with a nod to the faithful seed, we interview
founders of the Cleveland Seed Bank, Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy, who offer a pioneering approach to starting a seed bank from scratch (page 22). None of what we enjoy in our local food community would be possible without the hard work of those who tend the fields. Food activist Bryn Bird brings to light the persistence of college students in Ohio to create Student Farmworker Alliance chapters to advocate for “farmworker rights, fair food policy, and called-for corporate sustainability.” (page 25) We’re also so happy to have writer and professor Dinty W. Moore share his story of starting Flying Bunny Farm in Athens, Ohio, and how the unexpected placement of his urban garden has led him to “become an accidental ambassador for growing your own food, making my own tiny contribution to saving our planet.” And if you’re not of the inclination to run your own farm or food business (as am I), but simply enjoy the abundance of flora and fauna this time of year, we feature a story about hunting for Ohio wildflowers (page 26) and fishing for a fresh catch this spring (page 34). With Edward O. Wilson’s theory of biophilia becoming a part of our shared nomenclature, we all have good reason to get out and experience nature. His theory suggests that as human beings we all share a love of living systems. Recent scientific studies are proving him right, demonstrating that our nervous system finds peace of mind and improved health when we hike through the forest, dig our hands into fresh soil, or spend an afternoon by a body of water. Here’s to loving the living system of local food this spring, and planting some faithful seeds of your own. With gratitude,
PHOTO By © SARAH WARdA, SARAHWARdA.COM
letter from the editor
Creating a Local Food Business With our focus on starting and running your own food business, we asked some local food entrepreneurs how they approached entrepreneurship from the ground up and what they recommend for newbies. Read on as Todd Mills, Founder of ACRE, Farm-To-Table To-Go Restaurant, Dara Schwartz, founder of Darista Dips and Darista CafĂŠ, and Gavin Meyers, Co-founder of North High Brewing, share their experiences and hard-won tips. â€”Colleen Leonardi
Grow an Idea Todd Mills, Founder of ACRE, Farm-To-Table To-Go Restaurant Todd Mills recently opened ACRE restaurant in Old North Columbus. Before setting up shop he attended The Ohio State University for his Masters of Business Administration, where he grew his idea for ACRE. “Use the network you have to help turn your idea into reality, and find who may help along the way,” says Todd. “Business plan competitions or pitch competitions are also another way to get the idea out there. I think it’s valuable and useful to take your idea and be challenged.” Todd also held a series of pop-up shops at The Hills Market in Worthington. “It was extremely helpful because it was a very low-risk way of testing my idea. It allowed me to rent their kitchen space and utilize their equipment so my primary expense was ingredients and my own time to set things up. That was a great partnership.” Todd adds that there are similar options such as The Commissary, “where you can bring in your audience and use their space,” another great way to test out an idea. For Todd, a business is based on long-term relationships. “If you are looking to have more of an impact and build a true community-based business then it’s important to form partnerships with growers and vendors, and not [ask] them to produce the cheapest product but instead find a balance in high quality product at a fair and reasonable price.” —Nijma Darwish
Define Your Product Dara Schwartz, Founder of Darista Dips and Darista Café Dara Schwartz has dipped into wholesaling her delicious spreads instead of settling into a brick and mortar. Her advice? “Define your brand positioning, personality, and story. Determine your key value and attributes to what makes your product exceptional. This will shape your marketing and sales message when communicating to your customers [buyers] and consumers. Get creative with packaging and predict how you want your consumers to engage with your product and your brand.” Getting to know your product is also important she says, “Run a pilot program with stores for about four months. This will give you enough time to not only learn how your product behaves, but if you reach product acceptance it will give you valuable time to work out your kinks.” Dara also chooses to, “love and nurture” the businesses with which she works. “Don’t ‘Spray and Pray,’ or ‘Drop and Drive;’ build strong relationships with each store, their buyers, and marketing department. How can you help your product and their store perform well together? Offer product demos and sampling. Get creative with hosting events and partnering with other brands being offered at their stores. Equip each team with assets and collectively plan for store incentives.” She also prefers walking into the markets as opposed to just shooting an email, or making a phone call. Her “Darista Dips” can be found in Columbus specialty shops, grocers, and cafes. —Nijma Darwish
Build Partnerships Gavin Meyers, Co-founder of North High Brewing In 2012, Gavin Meyers and his business partner, Tim Ward, opened North High Brewing, a brew-onpremise establishment in Columbus. Gavin offers his advice on looking for the right partner. “It’s important to have different levels of expertise in the partnership. That’s going to make up for the other’s shortcomings, so you both can work together, and this helps build a great team.” Before going into business he also recommends building relationships with other professionals in the same type of field. “Find someone who went through a similar experience, one you wouldn’t be competing with, that has that personal experience. Find someone who would like to share their story. Know when it’s right to ask the questions and they will be answered organically.” It’s also important when starting any business to be adaptive. “Pay attention to your customers. Keep them in that feedback loop. There can be an untapped opportunity you’re unaware of,” says Gavin. The business duo have recently opened a second location to help fill demand for the wholesale side of the business, going from a two-barrel batch size to a 40-barrel batch size, something that Gavin says, “wasn’t in the initial business plan but the customers expressed they wanted more, and it proved to be a valuable and much needed expansion.” —Nijma Darwish
Finance Fund to Invest in Healthy Local Food Systems in Ohio In Ohio nearly two million residents, including more than 500,000 children, live in communities that are underserved by supermarkets and other healthy food retailers. The Columbus-based Finance Fund, a nonprofit organization with a proven 27-year record in building better communities through financial investment, recently launched the Ohio Healthy Foods Financing Initiative (OHFFI) to offer a marketbased solution to this problem. OHFFI was born out of the recognition that access to strong food systems has historically driven economic development in impoverished communities. The program will finance local and healthy food-based businesses. Building self-sustaining, competitive local food systems is at the heart of OHFFI, which will fund grocery stores, food hubs, food processing facilities, and incubator kitchens, among others. The program is currently securing funding to support a range of projects in communities across the state. OHFFI will be implemented in partnership with The Food Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving access to healthy and affordable foods in neighborhoods nationwide. Learn more at financefund.org. —Nicole Rasul
local and in season
What to Plant The Carrot (Daucus carota) Orange: The Standard Babette: 3–4 inches, 70 days, a mini-carrot se-
lected from a Nantes type; typical sweet carrot flavor. Danvers: Improved heirloom, 7-inch root, 65–75 days, tolerates heavier soils, stores well. Mokum: 5–6 inches, 48 days, slender, sweet
carrot, can plant two to three crops depending on the season. Oxheart: Heirloom, 5–6 inch heart-shaped root,
90 days, can grow to one pound each. Red Cored Chantenay: Heirloom, 5–7 inches, 70 days, sweet and stores well, tolerates heavier soils. Scarlet Nantes: 6–8 inch root, 65–74 days, my first carrot variety, what a carrot should taste like. St. Valery: Heirloom, 10–12 inches, 70 days, sweet red-orange roots, rare.
(contains xanthophyll, which is similar to beta carotene) Amarillo: 8 inches, 75 days, crunchy and sweet. Jaune du Doubs: Heirloom, 8–10 inches, 60–70 days, requires well-worked soil or the roots will fork, when young it is better cooked than raw, cellars well. Yellowstone: 7–8 inches, 72 days, very crisp texture, tolerate of heavier soils.
PHOTO By © RyAn BenyI, RyAnBenyI.COM, STyLed By BRIdGeT HenRy, BRIdGeTHenRy.COM
Yellow: Like a Spot of Sunshine
What to Eat
Red: A Deeper Orange (contains lycopene) Atomic Red: 8 inches, 75 days, mild when eaten
Asparagus • Broccoli • Breads • Cabbage • Carrots
raw, flavor develops with cooking, retains its color.
Cheeses • Cilantro • Collards • eggs • Honey • kale
Red Samurai: Open pollinated, 11 inches, 75
Maple syrup • Meats • Milk • Microgreens
days, tasty when raw and cooked, retains its color when cooked.
Purple: Pizzazz in the Salad Bowl (contains anthocyanins, which are antioxidants; most have a slight spicy flavor; some seed may produce orange carrots instead of purple) Dragon: 6 inches, 65–90 days, deep purple
outside with a golden core, sweet but can have a bitter edge.
Mustard greens • Peas • Radishes • Rhubarb Spinach • Strawberries • Swiss chard • Turnip greens
What to Cook Carrots in an Orange Honey Rosemary Glaze
Cosmic Purple: 7–8 inches, 58 days, sweet, spicy
Serves 4 as a side
flavor, size can vary, can be harvested at 58 days or later.
Gone is the scabbed skin and gnarled flesh. Carrots pulled from spring ground are slim and tender with Purple Haze: 10–12 inches, 70 days, 2006 AAS
skin so new that it’s edible once clean (peeling is a matter of taste). Here, I peel a multi-colored group
(All America Selections) winner, flavor develops with cooking.
before submerging them in a buttery, hot bath. They are then dressed in a sheer glaze of butter, honey,
Purple Sun: 8–10 inches, 90 days, purple throughout, can be harvested as a young carrot or full-size.
One note: if using purple carrots, cook and dress them separately from the rest. Like beets, their
White: No, It’s Not a Parsnip
the carrot top for both color and as a handle for those who pick them up with their hands.)
rosemary, and citrus and served immediately, tasting of nothing so much as fresh carrot.
2 bunches slender spring carrots, washed and peeled, but otherwise whole. (I like to leave a little of
(tend to have a very mild flavor but is a lovely contrast to the colorful carrots) Snow White: 7–8 inches, 75 days, crisp and mild.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided Zest of 1 large orange 1 tablespoon good quality honey Leaves from 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped Salt and pepper to taste
White Satin: 8–9 inches, 70 days, Fedco says it is
Fill a wide saucepan with enough water to just cover the whole carrots. Bring water to a boil and salt
the best white carrot for flavor and growing, sweet when raw and cooked, develops green shoulders when ripe.
generously. Carefully add the carrots with 1 tablespoon butter and let simmer until knife-tender, about 5–8 minutes depending on carrot thickness. Trying not to scrape or break the carrots, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the water and set aside to drain. empty the saucepan of all water. Return to a low heat and melt the remaining butter. Whisk in the
Recommended resources for seeds include: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Cook’s Garden, Fedco, Renee’s Garden, Seeds of Change, Seed Savers Exchange, and Territorial Seeds.
orange zest, honey, and rosemary. Gently add the carrots back in and roll gently to glaze with the seasoned honey butter. Season with salt and pepper, then taste, adding more honey, butter, or rosemary as desired. Spoon onto a platter and serve warm.
Visit ediblecolumbus.com for gardening tips and rosemary cultivars for spring.
from the kitchen
Herb Salads By Sarah Lagrotteria
Cancer-fighting, antioxidant-boosting, and nutritious. The medicinal and dietary value of herbs is long-documented and yet they remain an afterthought in traditional American cooking. Our recipes bring soft, fragrant spring herbs to the fore. If you’re hesitant, take the time to lightly rub them between your fingertips. Doing so releases their oils; one breath of the lingering green perfume will calm your mind and your cooking process. Herb Salad Grain Bowl Serves 4 as a side and 2 as an entrée A one-bowl meal packed with spring root vegetables and fresh herbs, this grain salad will start on you on the path to treating herbs as an ingredient rather than a garnish. Serve as a composed salad with the dressing on the side. 1 cup uncooked grain of choice (I like wheat berries or freekah) cooked according to package directions with the addition of 1 bay leaf and the zest of half an orange (reserve the rest for dressing) to the cooking liquid 2 small beets, any color or combination of colors, julienned
Set cooked grains aside to cool. Make dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar and shaking until emulsified. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper or vinegar as desired. Pour 2 tablespoons dressing over the cooling grains.
1 small handful each fresh mint, flat-leaf parsley, and basil, washed, dried, and de-stemmed ½ cup pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped Feta or crumbled goat cheese, as desired
Roughly chop the fresh herbs and toss together in a small bowl. Choose a shallow serving bowl and scoop the grains into the bowl, using the back of a spoon to spread and level the grain layer. Arrange remaining ingredients on top of the grains in stripes of alternating colors: begin by spooning the beets in a straight line down the middle, heaping them on top of one another for some
Dressing: 1 small shallot, cut into fine dice 1 teaspoon dijon mustard Zest of half an orange (reserved from above)
height. Flank the beets on one side with a heaping line of celery and on the other side with pistachios. On the outside of each of these stripes, spoon the crumbled cheese, then fill the bowl’s outer-most edges with a generous pile of mixed herbs. Serve immediately with remaining vinaigrette on the side.
Juice of 1 orange 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 6 tablespoons good quality olive oil Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Visit ediblecolumbus.com for Sarah’s other two herb salad recipes for springtime, a French-Style Herb Salad and a Fresh Herb and Preserved Lemon Salsa.
PHOTO By © CATHeRIne MuRRAy, PHOTOkITCHen.neT
1–2 stalks young celery, cut into small dice, leaves (if any) reserved
behind the bottle
Springtime Spirits Recipe editor Sarah Lagrotteria pairs up with mixologist Nicolene Schwartz to craft culinary juices and cocktails for the arrival of spring By nicolene Schwartz • Photography by Ryan Benyi • Styling by Bridget Henry
istorically, botanical ingredients are fundamental to the cocktail. Gin’s piney signature, for example, depends on the juniper berries added during vapor-distillation, and the bitterness in tonic comes from the powdered bark of the South American cinchona tree. A quick scan of a contemporary liquor stockist’s shelves turns up the revised versions—smallbatch tonics combine cinchona with dozens of other botanicals, and Columbus’s own Watershed Distillery reimagines gin to include heady citrus and deep spices.
Famed Chicago chef Greg Achatz describes, “making associations with what smells good or smells a certain way and pairing that with actual edible ingredients” when discussing his creative process. And though he’s referencing food rather than drink, when edible’s team met up at The Seasoned Farmhouse to create spring cocktails, we found this concept of connection applies readily to drink-building as well.
This fascination with botanical and culinarystyle ingredients underscores for us interested parties (on both sides of the bar) something fundamental to the enjoyable nature of a modern cocktail. Though a well-executed Manhattan or Vesper is a lovely thing, the fun of a culinary cocktail is in the surprise of the sensory experience—the secret connection between ingredients that an unlikely but well-constructed pairing brings out (for a food parallel, think some of Jeni’s more inventive ice creams). And
The scene in the Farmhouse’s airy main space presents a compelling visual: bright piles of lemon, grapefruit, orange, and lime contrast the watercolor-subtlety of lemongrass stalks and dried roses; the rich colors of freshly-juiced turmeric, strawberry, and carrot punctuate the palette. Across the room, Ryan Benyi and Bridget Henry tease out the interplay of color and texture among these ingredients as they set up photo shots, while in the kitchen Sarah and I are doing much the same thing with scent and taste.
in the springtime, especially, with botanicals and fresh produce of all varieties in season, this is definitely fun you should try at home.
We start with strawberry. Though the robust sweetness will need to take the lead in the cocktail, it could easily overwhelm if not properly positioned. But the addition of rose adds an airy note, while grapefruit’s dry tang provides the bulk of needed balance to the strawberry. Since this same citrus features prominently in Watershed’s gin, our choice of base spirit is an easy one (see recipe on page 20). Though it seems perhaps counterintuitive, sometimes it takes an association of commonality, rather than contrast, to build a complex flavor profile. We love how ginger’s earthy top notes suggest the renewing, regenerative nature of springtime, but while this nuance comes through as a scent, it is handily doused by the root’s spiciness when put into cocktail form. The addition of carrot juice—whose earthy profile is teased out by the veggie’s mild, non-competitive sweetness—becomes the perfect vehicle for propping up this same subtlety in the ginger. Rye whiskey’s sweet-spicy balance rounds out the
Opposite: Turmeric Lemongrass Lemonande, recipe on page 20
ginger’s tang and adds warmth, while a squeeze of lemon juice sharpens the edges.
Turmeric Lemongrass Lemonade Serves 2
With perhaps our most delicate ingredients— turmeric and lemongrass—we choose vodka as a base, which adds texture without vying for weight in the flavor profile. Since the citrusy side of lemongrass tends to override its lighter, more floral notes, we use elderflower liqueur to tilt the cocktail further in that direction. Like ginger, turmeric’s earthy-grassy scent is worth emboldening within the cocktail, and a prosecco accomplishes this nicely, the dry effervescence helping to pull those more subtle flavors to the forefront.
2 long stalks lemongrass 2 cups filtered water 2 cups sugar 6–8 lemons 1 knob fresh turmeric, about the size of your thumbnail, peeled* use a serrated knife to make superficial cuts along the length of your lemongrass. Bruise the lemongrass to release its oils by bending slightly along the cut lines. Slip cut stalks into a pot filled with 2 cups filtered water. Add sugar, bring to a boil and let simmer until the sugar has dissolved and the lemongrass softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for at least 30 minutes and up
Science suggests that when approaching a new scent or taste we contextualize its unfamiliar aspects through association with things that we already know as we work to identify what we’re perceiving. But emboldening as it is to think that our noses and brains might predispose us to a certain dexterity with this kind of cocktail experimenting, as long as the result tastes good to the person drinking it, there’s no wrong answer. And, luckily, the only real way to get good at it is by doing it. The weather’s becoming ever more inviting, after all, and we think this has “fun dinner party” written all over it. Visit ediblecolumbus.com for Sarah’s recipe for Ginger Carrot Juice and Nicolene’s complimentary cocktail recipe with rye whiskey.
to an hour. Strain through a fine sieve. discard lemongrass stems. Chill liquid, covered, for at least an hour and up to 1 week to create simple syrup. use a small, serrated knife to peel lemons. Push lemons and turmeric through juicer and into a serving pitcher. Add lemongrass simple syrup to taste and serve immediately over ice or chill for an hour before serving. *Fresh turmeric stains counters, cutting boards and rags a (gorgeous) yellow. Be careful where you place it. It is available at the Clintonville Community Market and Lucky’s Market. Call ahead to make
sure they have it in stock.
For a cocktail… In a mixing tin or large glass, combine 1½ cups lemongrass lemonade, ½ cup vodka, ½ cup St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and ⅛–¼ cup lemon juice. Stir gently to blend ingredients (about 5 seconds), and pour into tall glasses. Top with prosecco or sparkling water, and garnish with a stalk of
Sarah Lagrotteria is a FCI-trained chef who has
Strawberry Rose Juice
worked for Mario Batali, taught writing classes on
food culture at Stanford and contributed to numerous cookbooks. In 2003, Sarah co-founded Apples & Onions, a private chef company in Malibu, CA. She now lives in Worthington with her husband and daughter Marlowe.
2 cups water ½ cup dried pink rosebuds or petals* 1 pound fresh strawberries, washed and hulled ½ grapefruit
A graduate of the university of Washington in Seattle, Nicolene Schwartz moved from new york City to Columbus in 2008. She consults and develops cocktails for a number of local outfits, including Rigsby’s kitchen, MoJoe Lounge, and Watershed distillery. When not working, nicolene is rehabbing the medical-office-turned-unusual-
In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil; add rosebuds and remove from the heat. Let steep for 1 hour then strain through a fine sieve. discard the rosebuds and chill the liquid, covered, for up to 1 week. Push strawberries through juicer and in to a serving pitcher. Add rose water to taste. Serve immediately with a squirt of grapefruit juice to taste. *We found fragrant, organic rose petals and rosebuds at the Clintonville Community Market.
home she shares near Franklin Park with partner,
Scot, and dogs Mavis and Trout.
For a cocktail… In a mixing tin or large glass filled with ice, combine 1½ cups juice, ¾ cup Watershed Gin, and ⅛–¼ cup lemon simple syrup (see our recipe for Turmeric Lemongrass Lemonade above). Stir well to integrate and chill ingredients. Strain into a coupe or martini glass, and garnish with a rose petal, grapefruit twist, or fresh strawberry. Opposite: Strawberry Rose Cocktail
Community Seeds Seed banks and seed saving with The Cleveland Seed Bank By Teresa Woodard
Edible Columbus recently spoke with two leading seed activists, Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy, about their pioneering work at the Cleveland Seed Bank, a fledgling seed bank that’s becoming a model for local seed banks in Ohio and beyond. After a year-long, round-the-world honeymoon trip including a visit to seed activist Dr. Vandana Shiva’s farm in India, the couple returned home inspired and began to study seed saving and various seed bank models at Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa, the Seed School in Tucson, Arizona, the Community Food Initiatives in Athens, Ohio, and return trips to India. In the summer of 2013, they launched the Cleveland Seed Bank.
Q: What’s so great about local seeds? A: Seeds are a living embryo. When you take a seed and put it in the ground, it has this amazing capacity to adapt to the growing conditions of a backyard, a garden, or a region, and that adaptation (cold hardiness, disease resistance or early maturity) stays with the seeds for the next generation.
Q: Why is there a renewed interest in seed saving? A: There’s an amazing study that looked at
While Central Ohio has its own handful of seed savers—from researchers at The Ohio State University to informal seed swappers to gardeners who started a seed library at the Newark Library— there’s still plenty of opportunity to grow our community’s seed saving efforts. Thankfully, Marilyn and Chris are gracious to share their insights on their community, open-pollinated seed bank, online seed exchange, and local seed libraries.
seed catalogs from 1900s and seed catalogs today. It found more varieties of seeds were available then since more people were saving seeds, and more seed companies were selling seeds on a regional level.
Editor’s note: While seed saving of commercial seeds for the purposes of resale is considered illegal, Marilyn
For early farmers, saving seeds was how they got their next crop. But, today, there’s a generation
and Chris and others work to save open-pollinated, heirloom varieties for personal use and seed swaps. Learn more about the legalities of seed saving at saveseedsharing.org.
PHOTO By © CAROLe TOPALIAn
t’s easy to take seeds for granted. They’re small, relatively inexpensive, and readily available. But talk with a seed saver, and you’ll gain a new perspective. They’ll not only tell you about the amazing potential of one tiny tomato seed to grow three feet and produce pounds of delicious fruits, but they’ll also tell you of the stories and culture they hold. And, they’ll urge you to join in a global movement to “save our seeds” to help sustain the planet’s biological diversity and its food supply.
The local foods movement is growing all over the state, and we like to say that seed saving is the next step. It is the missing link that nobody’s working on as they continue to buy seeds from out of state. or two of people who have never had this experience, so education is important in re-skilling this population to save more seeds.
Q: How do you monitor seed quality? A: We encourage peer-to-peer interactions.
Q: What is a seed bank? A: Traditionally, a seed bank is where a com-
People feel nervous about saving seeds, because they don’t have the recommended population size or isolation distances. So, we just ask them to be up front and come forward with a lot of questions.
munity gathers and stores seeds for future generations. It’s an aggregated place for storage and preservation. The Cleveland Seed Bank is a little different in that we’re a living seed bank. There’s no brick and mortar. Instead, our seed bank is in the fields and backyards of our members. If members can keep a variety or two and grow those out, then we have an alliance of seed stewards, and our seed bank is secure.
Q: How does your online seed exchange work? A: In addition to the seed bank, we have an online seed exchange. It’s like a Craigslist for seeds. Members simply sign up (for free) and swap with the other 264 members. In designing the website, we worked with ‘cyber hacktivist,’ Meitar Moscovitz, to create an open-source WordPress plug-in that’s now available for free to other seed exchanges and has been downloaded 704 times worldwide.
Q: What challenges have you faced in launching the seed bank? A: The main challenge is getting people to rethink how they get their seeds. Most are used to going to the store or buying them online. And, most of these seeds are grown out of state in places like Oregon, so they aren’t adapted to Cleveland’s soils and summers. We try to get people excited about seed saving in fun, positive ways. For example, last August we held a pop-up, hand-pollinate-the-corn party. We ordered tassel bags, ear shoot bags, and brought supplies for everyone to get hands-on experience with hand-pollinating our 200 Glass Gem corn plants. It was really a fun garden party disguised as a workshop.
Q: What role do local seed banks play in the local foods movement? A: The local foods movement is growing all over the state, and we like to say that seed saving is the next step. It is the missing link that nobody’s working on as they continue to buy seeds from out of state. We’re gaining credibility as part of that movement.
Q: How can Central Ohioans get involved in the seed-saving movement? A: Start saving seeds. Take on one variety and learn how to save its seeds, then organize friends and neighbors to join you in seed saving and even seed swapping.
Q: What resources do you recommend for new seed savers? A: Check out Seed Savers Exchange’s website (seedsavers.org) for some helpful online resources and videos. Our favorite instructional book is Seed to Seed, which is informally known as the bible for seed saving. This spring, the Seed Savers Exchange and the Organic Seed Alliance are coming out with a new book, The Seed Garden, which is written with the new seed saver in mind. For inspiration, we also love The Seed Underground that shares gardeners’ seed-saving stories. Visit ediblecolumbus.com for our full interview with Marilyn and Chris, and a Seed-Saving Primer so you can get started saving your own seeds this season.
Teresa Woodard writes home and garden stories for regional and national magazines. She also blogs with two other writers at heartland-gardening.com.
A Just Food System
“Student-bodies are incredibly powerful and history has shown that through them, change is achievable,” says Henry Anton Peller.
How students are advocating for farmworkers’ rights in Ohio By Bryn Bird
n the fall of 2013, students at Denison University worked with Professor Rusty Shekha to create a Student Farmworker Alliance (SFA) chapter at Denison, and held the first Big Red Fair Food Festival. Instead of just learning about food justice, the students desired to have their voices heard and push for corporate policy change to better farmworker conditions. In partnership with Ohio Fair Food (OFF) and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), students and community members rallied for farmworker rights, fair food policy, and calledfor corporate sustainability. As a student, cofounder, and current chapter president, Yasmine La Salle says, “So often in justice work you are asked to fund the movement and fund those lobbying on the movement’s behalf. But we wanted to be a part of the change. We wanted to bring farmworkers to Denison to have their stories heard. To hear from someone who is being affected, and not just listen to another person advocating on their behalf.” In the spring of 2014, the SFA at Denison University was officially recognized as a student organization.
The SFA is a network of students throughout the country organizing with the CIW while advocating for justice and dignity for farmworkers. The SFA has played a vital role in the CIW’s “Campaign for Fair Food” and significantly contributed to key victories, including Chipotle and Trader Joe’s signing on to the “Fair Food Agreement.” These agreements focused on the U.S. tomato industry and require corporations to support a wage increase through paying an additional penny per pound and implement a human-rights-based Code of Conduct on the farms that grow their tomatoes. Through students’ organizing, four of the nation’s top food management companies, all of which hold uni-
versity contracts here in Central Ohio, also agreed to “Fair Food Agreements” in just 16 months. This timeline is unheard of in corporate policy reform. Many of the students marching with farmworkers today were barely in elementary school when the CIW held its historic 230-mile “March for Dignity, Dialogue and a Fair Wage” in 2000. Yet the pace of the policy change is not a detractor for them. As students, their passion and excitement is infectious and should be an example to all food citizens in building a just food system. In January 2014 the SFA launched a campusbased targeted market effort against Wendy’s. The “Boot the Braids” campaign is reminiscent of the CIW’s first major watershed victory in the early 2000s against Taco Bell entitled, “Boot the Bell.” Ohio SFA member Henry Anton Peller is working with his fellow students and charging ahead with almost constant negotiations, marches, and demonstrations demanding Ohio be accountable to the ethical practices with the corporation it does business with. With Central Ohio being the home to Wendy’s Corporate, The Ohio State University’s (OSU) SFA has been the host to national spotlight. In May 2014, an OSU SFA student delivered a letter to Wendy’s CEO at its annual shareholder meeting calling on Wendy’s to sign on to CIW’s “Fair Food Agreement.” Students did not stop there. Together with Ohio Fair Food, almost 800 individuals marched from OSU to the shareholder meeting. This was followed up with hundreds of Central Ohio residents’ attending the Ohio premiere of the documentary, “Food Chains,” in December 2014. “Student-bodies are incredibly powerful and history has shown that through them, change is
achievable,” says Henry while describing how OSU’s SFA has been working to dissect each issue, such as wage theft, and bring to light the injustices happening right here in the United States. “Most students are unaware of what is happening,” says Henry, “but we see the power in numbers and the power of the students.” In January 2015, after months of good faith talks between the SFA and OSU administration a renewal lease with Wendy’s on the OSU campus required that local franchise owners must work to meet the demands of the SFA before the twoyear lease period is up, or face nonrenewal. While Wendy’s was not “booted,” Henry still noted the huge milestone before quickly noting the five upcoming demonstrations and events being held within a two-week period. While the pace of change is slow, it does not deter the students from moving to push the issues forward every day. Today’s youth are leading the way to a just food system. To organize on a local campus, or get involved in your community at any age contact: email@example.com.
Bryn Bird is a farm girl hailing from a dirt road outside Granville, Ohio. She grew up raising livestock and produce on her family’s farm, Bird’s Haven. She gained a master’s in public health from George Washington university in Washington, dC, and is now empowering the rural lifestyle while working with Rural Coalition.
worth the trip
Where the Wildflowers Are The Arc of Appalachia’s spring Wildflower Pilgrimage By nicole Rasul
“The first wildflower of the year is like land after sea.” —Thomas Wentworth Higginson
the region as sanctuaries for public use. Over its 20-year history, the Arc of Appalachia has established 14 nature preserves that the organization owns and operates, as well as two nature preserves that are operated on behalf of the Ohio History Connection. Most of these preserves lie near the edge of the Appalachian foothills along the tributaries of the lower Scioto River. Ohio is home to several hundred varieties of wildflowers that bloom each spring and summer with exquisite beauty.
hio wildflowers—beautiful gifts, fleeting and delicate—are spring’s promise of the renewal of life and a reminder of the splendor of the growing season to come. Each spring, the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System offers a three-day Wildflower Pilgrimage focused on this natural phenomenon. This year the Wildflower Pilgrimage will celebrate its 10th anniversary at the largest nature preserve in the Arc of Appalachia’s preserve system and the headquarters for the organization, the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, located in Bainbridge, Ohio, with wildflower hikes led by some of Ohio’s finest naturalists and botanists.
“This event really celebrates the incredible birth of spring wildflowers in our biome. There is nothing like this in the world,” Nancy Stranahan, director of the Arc of Appalachia, notes. “There are other wildflower pilgrimages out there, some of which are better known, such as the Smoky Mountain pilgrimage. Ours is a favorite among nature lovers because our abundant limestone bedrock offers particularly exceptional flowers. It’s a bit of a hidden secret, actually. If more people understood the diversity and beauty of the wildflowers that arrive each spring in this region I believe there would be a global draw to see this amazing phenomenon.” The Arc of Appalachia, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995, focuses on the preservation of natural spaces in southern Ohio by acquiring land in
The greatest forest cover in Ohio is located directly south and east of Columbus in woodlands that belong to the Great Eastern Forest, which covers a third of the United States. This vast forest is one of the world’s most biodiverse temperate forests, home to an amazing bounty of wildflowers. The work of the Arc of Appalachia to preserve this treasure is ever important due to the state’s history of extensive forest timber harvesting. Though Ohio has made significant gains in reclaiming forestland in the region since the 1940s, with nearly eight million acres or 30% of the state covered in forest today, when settlers arrived more than 200 years ago, it is estimated that nearly 95% of the state was covered by the incredibly diverse Eastern Forest. Spring wildflowers in these original mature forests were much more common than they are today. Nancy notes, “Although much of the Eastern U.S. is still covered with trees, the vast majority of eastern woodlands may have considerably less than half of their original species diversity. Ancient and fully intact temperate hardwood forests are extremely rare today, occupying less than half of 1% of their original range in the Eastern Forest heartland.” In addition to having the chance to enjoy breathtaking wildflowers, enjoy exquisite spring hikes, and learn about and nurture our region’s important
Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne)
PHOTO COuRTeSy OF ARC OF APPALCHIA
PHOTO COuRTeSy OF ARC OF APPALACHIA
Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia)
PHOTO COuRTeSy OF ARC OF APPALACHIA
By evA deCk
Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) at Ohio River Bluffs
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
By TIM POHLAR
PHOTO COuRTeSy OF ARC OF APPALACHIA
Some of the wildflowers that may be seen on the Pilgrimage include: Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) A flower with four yellow petals, this native poppy variety likes rich and moist growing conditions, such as wooded floodplains and damp cliffs. Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) A blue or purple flower that features five sepals, this wildflower is poisonous as a result of the presence of alkaloids. Large-Flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) As Ohio’s official state wildflower and the standard-bearer of spring, this flower is found in all of Ohio’s 88 counties. The seeds of the flower are dispersed by ants through a process called myrmecochory. Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) A member of the primrose family, this flower is also informally called the “Pride of Ohio” because of its remarkable beauty. The white, pink, or lavender petals form a star shape. Historically, the wildflower was plentiful in the region, however, as a result of habitat destruction the variety is now less populous. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) This flower is known as one of
forestland, Wildflower Pilgrimage participants are also offered the opportunity to experience outstanding, home-cooked food throughout the weekend. Prior to co-founding the Arc of Appalachia, Nancy owned and operated Benevolence Café, a vegetarian restaurant that was located on Swan Street next to the North Market in Columbus, as well as Benevolence Bakery, which was located inside the North Market. The Café and Bakery, which were well-known for their healthy, country comfort foods, were favorites among the Columbus food community. Many of the meals served during the Wildflower Pilgrimage weekend use recipes from the establishments, including homemade breads, such as raspberry white chocolate scones, herbed vinaigrettes, made-from-scratch vegetarian chilies, and homemade chicken salad and egg salad sandwiches To attend the Pilgrimage on April 17–19 the cost per participant is $125 for the full weekend package, which includes guided hikes, all programming, meals, a wildflower guide booklet, and trail maps. Overnight accommodation is not included in the registration cost. The Highlands Nature Sanctuary will offer a limited number of lodging options onsite, additionally there are a number of hotels, inns, and cabins in the region where Pilgrimage participants can book a stay. To learn more and to register to attend the 2015 Wildflower Pilgrimage, visit arcofappalachia.org.
the most beautiful varieties of spring ephemeral wildflower in the eastern Forest. Thomas Jefferson cultivated the flower in the gardens of Monticello. Nicole Rasul loves all things related to food and is especially inquisitive about
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) A distant relative of the
food history and culture. She and her husband recently moved back to Ohio,
household geranium, this flower is also known as “Crane’s Bill” because
her home state, after many years on the east Coast. The live in Clintonville
of the flower’s fruit, which resembles a bird beak.
where they enjoy the farmers market and their backyard garden.
from the good earth
Farming a Forest How Janell Baran made Blue Owl Hollow a mecca for mushrooms, herbs, and more By Colleen Leonardi
t the Blue Owl Hollow tree farm a few miles outside of Newark, Ohio, a wood stove heats Janell Baran’s and her husband, Peter Kuhlman’s, 19th century home while sunlight pours through a crystal in the window, forming rainbows along Janell’s sweater as she tells me stories. Outside three hens and a curious rooster pluck past our view. Janell pours me a mug of freshly brewed hot lemonade and tells me about the time a great horned owl stole into her chicken coop one day and killed her favorite hen, Zebra. “There are owls in the forest,” she smiles ruefully.
In 1998, Janell and Peter visited the 130 acres of woods looking for a place to call home. Their first priority was land conservation and maintaining biodiversity. She and Peter lived in San Diego, California, then Bloomington, Indiana, before arriving at Denison University in Granville where Janell worked in web development for years and Peter still works as a professor of biochemistry. When they first visited their current home on Porter Road, a solid, small wood farmhouse built in 1850, Janell saw the sunny meadow and the thicket of spruce and pine, left over from the 1960s-era Stradley Christmas Tree farm, and was smitten. She knew it was where she wanted to put down roots and return to her farming heritage.
Top: Peter Kuhlman harvesting shiitake mushrooms off logs at the farm at Blue Owl Hollow. Photo by Anne Reese. Bottom: Janell’s mushroom log operation, fruiting shiitake mushrooms on logs harvested from their forest at Blue Owl Hollow. Photo by Anne Reese. Opposite: A view of the forest from Blue Owl Hollow. Photo by Anne Reese.
“A tree farm is like any other farm business,” says Janell. Since 1999, they have managed Blue Owl Hollow under the guidance of a Forest Stewardship Plan. Their 130 acres is full of oak, walnut, hickory, maple, cherry, elm, tulip poplar, sassafras, ash, and various other hardwoods along with some remaining conifer plantation. Despite losing more than 5,000 trees during the 2004 ice storm, the forest is still rich with trees, native plant communities, mushrooms, wildflowers, berries—and, yes, owls. Janell pulls out a map and shows me trails like Squirrel Corn Rock, Restless Natives, Willow Springs, and Turkey Chute—paths that she and Peter have blazed and named during their time living in the forest. It was in 2007, when Janell was awarded a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) grant, that they discovered an additional arm to their conservation efforts—mushrooms. Ohio’s worst invasive species of woodlands, the Southeast Asian tree, Ailanthus altissima, was rampant in their forest. With the SARE grant, Janell developed “an alternative, minimum-impact control technique” to slowly, and without the use of chemicals, eliminate the invasive species. She grew plug spawn for three different native edible mushrooms that she injected into the invasive trees. From her research, she demonstrated the success of the technique and refined her skills for growing edible mushrooms on logs. Today she and Peter sell fresh log-grown shiitake, nameko, lion’s mane, and oyster mushrooms, as well as grow-your-own mushroom logs. One can even participate in a mushroom log work share during the growing season, helping Janell to inoculate the logs for the farm, and after 10 logs the 11th log is yours to take home.
Above: Left: Janell Baran talking with customers at the Worthington farmers market. Photo by Jodi Miller. Right: Top: dried rose petals (Rosa rugosa). Bottom: dried calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis) as sold at the Worthington farmers market. Photo by Jodi Miller. Below: Janellâ€™s spring beds at her three-acre herb farm. Photo by Anne Reese.
When I ask Janell about growing the business, she hesitates. Suddenly, it’s not the mushrooms that make her eyes sparkle like the rainbows in the room. It’s her herb farm—Blue Owl Garden Emporium—started in 2007 and just down the road, situated on a hill that wraps around a curve in the main road and is bordered by two 19th-century country store wood buildings, a house, and a barn that gets her excited. She insists we drive down to visit the garden emporium despite that lack of growth this time of year. “I’m pretty tenacious and don’t give up easily,” she reminds me.
dried culinary and medicinal herbs you may never have known existed— everything from your standard rosemary or mint to spruce tips and, this year, a medicinal chrysanthemum. And the offerings extend beyond the herbs to include little herbal soup wreaths to enhance your broth, native hardwood herb racks, herbal tea blends, pre-made baking mixes for things like lime basil coconut meringues and lavender mint shortbread, and hardwood grilling planks. The list keeps growing, as does the forest—a testament to the tenacity of Blue Owl Hollow and Janell.
And so we go.
As a forest farmer and herb grower, Janell’s multifaceted approach to living on a swath of land is simply an extension of her fondness for the Earth. “Being an active part of this forest community provides us with many harder-to-define-but-highly-desirable assets: a beautiful place to live, cleaner air and water, endless entertainment value, exercise, intellectual stimulation, a sense of purpose, healthy food, spiritual relevance, means to stay warm in the winter, shelter for us and our animals,” she says, “to name just a few. For me personally, those advantages far outweigh the purely economic ones.”
“My husband claims I’ve never met an edible plant I didn’t like and didn’t want to grow,” she confesses as she lists which new herbs she’ll try in the garden this year. “And that’s part of the problem.” The 3 acres of hill bear signs of herb beds aplenty. Janell grows 600 to 700 kinds of useful plants because she wants to, she tells me with aplomb. Her knowledge of the herbs, their characteristics, flavor profiles, and medicinal uses is rich and varied like the forest where she lives.
Blue Owl Hollow Tree Farm and Garden Emporium; blueowlgarden.com, email at firstname.lastname@example.org; 740-345-4689.
“I enjoy what I do,” she says. “Unlike a lot of other farmers, I have a very broad, very shallow pool of potential market products. But I like it that way. It’s fun. I enjoy talking to people who are like, ‘You’ve got 16 kinds of basil?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, isn’t that cool?’” If you were to visit Janell and Peter at the market, you would find mushrooms and herb bunches during the growing season and glass jars full of
Colleen Leonardi is a writer, teacher, choreographer, and editor of Edible Columbus. She is also studying herbalism with dawn Combs at Mockingbird Meadows and looks forward to growing her own collection of medicinal and culinary herbs this summer.
Gone Fishing Finding fresh fish in the springtime waters of Central Ohio By Michelle Barnes Photography by Tim daniel
ou’re no stranger to eating local, so how about taking things one step further and catching your dinner? You’d know exactly where it came from and you’d have a fish story to go with it. Fishing is relaxing; feeling a warm spring sun on your back as you stare out over the water will liken you to a cat on a sunny windowsill. And then there are the exciting times. Reeling in the big one can have everyone on their toes. Ohio’s public fishing lakes and reservoirs (fisheries) are managed as sustainable public resources using best practices for conservation. Round out that sense of Ohio pride with the thought that you can provide locally sourced protein for your family, and you can see why nearly one million anglers statewide have become hooked. With so many bodies of water scattered throughout Central Ohio, a trip to a fishing destination is closer than you think. All it takes is a little bit of know-how, some basic inexpensive gear, and an Ohio fishing license (see sidebar). Fishing can be the perfect way to check out from
the daily grind and tune in to the natural world, and it makes a great outing for the entire family. The fish you reel in will depend on the time of year you’re fishing, the water temperatures, and location. Consider starting with pan fish, a group of fish whose fillets most often fit in a frying pan. Bluegill and Crappie are common pan fish and can be caught year round in most bodies of water. The best time to catch them is in the spring, during pre-spawning; that is when fish are moving into shallow water. Crappies start moving to shallow waters in March or April when water temperatures near 65°. Bluegills move from April to June, when water temperatures near 68° or 69°. Both Crappie and Bluegill like structure in water. Try fishing in weed beds or near fallen trees. Both fish move to deeper waters after spawning and will stay in deeper, cooler waters until fall. There are two types of Crappie in Ohio, white and black. White crappies are easily distinguished by the appearance of dark spots arranged
in vertical bars on their sides. Black crappies are typically darker with spots lacking any pattern. Both average eight to 12 inches in length. Bluegills average seven to 10 inches in length, but they can be smaller when populations are high. Anglers most often identify Bluegill by counting five to nine vertical stripes on their sides along with a black earflap. They can also have a blue cheek and chin. Fishing regulations guide the number and length of fish caught in Ohio waters. Make sure to read and understand the law before heading out.
A Beginners Guide to Fishing in Central Ohio If you’ve never fished, here are some simple steps to get started. 1.
To begin, visit a few online resources and become familiar with the basics of fishing. Takemefishing.org has great starter information about fishing poles, proper knots, hooks, baits, and bobbers. The Ohio department of natural Resources (OdnR) division of Wildlife webpage, wildohio.gov, has information on the many species of fish in Ohio as well as identification tips for more common catches. Beginner rod and reel sets can be purchased at most local sporting goods stores. They are affordable and generally include everything you’ll need, even lures. Store attendants can be of great assistance when choosing what’s right for you.
next, purchase a fishing license. An Ohio fishing license is valid March 1, 2015 to February 29, 2016 and can be purchased at authorized licensed agents and at wildohio.gov. Children under the
Both Crappies and Bluegills are very mildtasting. Crappies are more delicate in texture while the fillet of a Bluegill is more firm. Both can be filleted, lightly dusted with your favorite breading and pan fried. You can cook both fish whole and many find grilled Crappie or Bluegill delicious.
age of 16 are not required to have a license. All licensing information and information about fishing regulations and limits can be found online, or by picking up a copy of the 2015-16 Ohio Fishing Regulations digest when you purchase a license. Fishing Regulations digests can be ordered by calling 1-800-WILdLIFe, which can also be a great resource to call if you have any questions or need clarification about fishing in Ohio. 3.
Takemefishing.org provides information about filleting various species of fish. Remember, fish remains make great fertilizer. All that’s left is to enjoy your catch using your favorite fish recipes.
Both Bluegill and Crappie exist in almost all Ohio waters. Alum Creek, Deer Creek, Delaware, and Hoover reservoirs all provide a big-water feel with chances of catching many fish species including largemouth bass, sauger, and catfish, along with Bluegill and Crappie. Local ponds are often stocked with these fish, too. Just check with your local park district for its rules and regulations. Detailed maps of Ohio’s large reservoirs can also be found online. Marinas or bait and tackle shops are often found around major bodies of water and can be great resources. Most sell equipment and snacks, but they can also tell you where fish are biting. If you’re really adventurous, you can pick up some live bait, too.
If you’re interested in further instruction, watch for Beginner Fishing Programs to be offered by the dOW in the near future. Beginner classes offer tips and techniques to build your knowledge, skills, and abilities. They are also a great way to meet other adults with similar interests. Ohio also offers two free fishing days, May 2–3, 2015. OdnR staff will be on hand at various locations to provide some basic instructions for families. Poles are limited during this time. Information regarding Free Fishing days can be found at wildohio.gov.
Fishing has a way of slowing a person down and allowing the typical daily stresses to roll away. Fishing allows you to be in the moment, not fretting the future or past. Feeling the tug on the line and reeling in a fish is equal to tearing wrapping paper off an anticipated gift. At the end of a long day of fishing or even after a onehour trip, you’ll feel connected with a different cadence in life, one that is natural and overwhelmingly uplifting.
Michelle Barnes is an avid and accomplished outdoorswoman, applying her personal interests to the professional field of wildlife communications. A lifelong Ohioan, Michelle is packing her bags to pursue a dream of promoting fish and wildlife conservation in the great state of Tennessee. Right: The Bluegill Opposite: Fishing on Ohio’s waterways
Folsom & Pine The evolution of a family farm into a thriving local business By Claire Hoppens
â€œLori Fry (right) and Jeremy Piwer (left) took over their ailing family farm to find an upward trajectory again, to innovate, and, most importantly, to impact the local food community.â€?
or more than 40 years Ehmann & Sons beckoned to the avid gardeners, curious travelers, and aspiring horticulturists of Orient, Ohio. Set just off Lambert Road, the farm is met by the gentle curve of the pavement toward the entry, beckoning. And the greenhouses are advertising alone. Even when the narrow rows are dormant, there is hope for what they will house come spring.
This year, on the same land that proved so valuable to the Ehmanns, Folsom & Pine seeks growth in its second season. Cousins and business owners, Lori Fry and Jeremy Piwer took over their ailing family farm to find an upward trajectory again, to innovate, and, most importantly, to impact the local food community. Gene and Norma Ehmann bought the 87-acre farm in 1962. They grew vegetables, 38 kinds at the peak. The first greenhouse was erected on the property in 1963. Gene used it to germinate plants from seed, which he found to be more effective than plant starters. He brought in a seeding machine, one of just a handful in the state.
OPPOSITe: PHOTO By © ROBIn OATTS. THIS PAGe: PHOTO COuRTeSy OF LORI FRy.
Seeds stuck, but the outcome changed. Through the Farm Aid era and the rise of subsidies for big agriculture, Ehmann & Sons evolved. From produce, they moved on to grow bedding plants and flowers, catering to the uptick in landscaping interest. More greenhouses cropped up, totaling 16 by the mid1980s. But time and a shifting industry took its toll. The business, anchored by regulars, saw its first inactive season in 2012. That’s when cousins Lori and Jeremy, who spent their childhoods on the farm, felt the pull. “I was born and raised on this farm,” Jeremy says. “I was grandpa’s little shadow.” Gene and Norma Ehmann
Jeremy spoke with his grandparents, Gene and Norma, regularly, but did not know the magnitude of the farm’s needs. He, like Lori, left the area for work, and found more nostalgia than future in the farm. Then the two reconnected for coffee. “We sit at a Starbucks in Hilliard and he tells me about how the farm is gone,” Lori says. “Without even missing a beat, we turn over a napkin and start figuring out a plan for this place.” She smiles. “It was the most expensive coffee I ever had in my life.” The two drew up a business plan within a week.
ori and Jeremy talk about the history of the farm before they discuss its future. Their stories hold great reverence for the man-hours, the creativity, and the risks that came before. This is especially evident as they stand before a visual timeline of the farm’s history that stretches from the immigration of Jeremy’s greatgrandfather from Austria-Hungary to an aerial photograph of the land dotted with greenhouses, extended well beyond the original farmhouse. It is a means of bridging the gap between Ehmann & Sons and Folsom & Pine.
Jeremy is already inside. He peels the door back slowly, revealing a slice of green that grows larger and larger. Despite winter’s best efforts, an oasis thrives inside.
“At least the community could come in and we could tell them the story,” Lori says.
Jeremy brushes his palm along the tops of tender microgreens. They are four shades of green, all
In the spring, the retail space will house bulk seed, plants, gardening tools, and goods from other local purveyors like Rhoads Farm and Bluecreek Farm. Eager to explore the grounds, Lori offers a tour. It’s not a long walk to Greenhouse #7.
unbelievably vibrant. “This is where everything starts, in this house right here.” In this moment, Jeremy is Willy Wonka and the greenhouse, lush and warm and awash in January sun, is a most magical place. Everyone is invited to touch and to taste. Jeremy navigates the rows of heated benches, set to temperatures specific to each plant. Tomatoes germinate at 70°, arugula between 65° and 67°. He weaves through young arugula plants, stopping to hand out fresh leaves. They are juicy and tender. He demonstrates how the benches are set on metal rollers, repurposed pieces of old greenhouse, so any one of them could move from side to side for better access. We stop at a seeding machine that Jeremy brings to life. Miniscule fingers, needle-like, pick up and deposit solitary seeds into trays where they’ll be germinated. “There’s not an electrical component on that thing. It’s entirely pneumatic,” Lori explains. The seeder runs on forced air rather than electricity or gas. It is unusual for a farm to grow all of its plants from seed. This seeder at Folsom & Pine is one of only a handful in Ohio. With about 86,000 square feet of workable greenhouse space, it is going to be a vital tool.
ncreasing efficiency to fill all those usable acres is a key business driver and overarching goal for Folsom & Pine. Lori, the businessminded half of the operation, knew changes needed to be made that would see a return to produce on the farm.
“I was born and raised on this farm,” Jeremy says. “I was grandpa’s little shadow.”
“These greenhouses were only being used 30– 40% of the year,” Lori says. “You can’t run a business properly with that kind of utilization. So we knew we were going to have to bring edibles back and grow something in these greenhouses again.” The goal for the upcoming year is between 70–80% capacity. Lori believes “every farmer needs a business person.” With a background in business management consulting, she drives the forecasting.
Inside one of Folsom & Pine’s greenhouses with rows of microgreens
“You can guess at this stuff but if you guess, you’re going to leave money on the table. We’re in this for the social value of reclaiming the food system, but we have to make money or we’re not going to survive,” she says. After one more nibble on microgreens with a horseradish kick, Jeremy leads the way to the tomato house. The reveal is no less spectacular. Leafy plants are trellised from floor to ceiling, many bearing tomatoes in various stages of ripeness. The senses are swiftly transported: sweet, vegetal aromas, hazy sunlight, and humid warmth. “I open that door,” says Jeremy, “and it’s a taste of summer. It’s therapeutic.” Tomatoes are just one of the vegetables Folsom & Pine grows for the 20+ restaurants it supplies. Bradley Balch, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of The Sycamore, gets regular deliveries of microgreens, pea shoots, baby arugula, and mizuna,
and often features Folsom & Pine’s herbs and tomatoes.
For Lori and Jeremy, farming Folsom & Pine is a labor of love.
“We want to support the local farmer and they’ve done a great job of offering to me what they have available,” he says. “It’s been a good, very open relationship…and they always have a quality product.”
Folsom & Pine; 5959 Lambert Rd, Orient, Ohio
Chef Bradley describes a dish featured last week with seared scallops and baby heirloom tomatoes. It took diners some convincing, only because they were skeptical of fresh produce in winter. “The guests kept asking, ‘What do you mean you’re getting baby heirloom tomatoes in Ohio in the middle of the January?’”
Claire Hoppens called five states home and at-
Jeremy insists we eat as many tomatoes as we can handle. Each is like a glimpse into the future, bursting with flavor. His smile is at its widest point amongst the tomatoes. And he is right back where he started: full of wonder, hands in the dirt, between tall plants on his grandparent’s farm.
43146; folsomandpine.com; 614-385-4080
Raised in a nomadic and adventurous family, tended three colleges before earning her degree in magazine journalism from the Scripps School at Ohio university in 2011. Claire is currently a Managing Partner for northstar Cafe, one of the many Columbus mainstays to solidify her love of people, food, and our vibrant city.
Below: “Gene and Norma Ehmann bought the 87-acre farm in 1962. They grew vegetables, 38 kinds at the peak. The first greenhouse was erected on the property in 1963.”
Red Twig Farms Cultivating peonies, people, and profit By Molly Hays â€˘ Photography by Catherine Murray
Just East of New Albany, in Johnstown, sits a sight for the ages, come late spring. There, on Josh and Lindsey McCulloughâ€™s property, Red Twig Farms, peonies are preparing to bloom in late May, a frilly riot of pale pink, crimson, magenta, and all hues in between. Theirs is a working flower and twig farm, and a study in business, passion, family, gumption, and success. edible COLUMBUS.com
Seize the Gap Red Twig Farm’s story resembles its blooms: complex, multi-layered, lovely. Red Twig’s roots took hold in 1997, when Karl and Terri, along with sons Josh and Nick, founded McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery. Dedicated to highend residential gardening, the New Albany-based company grew and prospered alongside its flourishing hometown, expanding to become an award-winning firm. By the late aughts, however, the McCulloughs observed that the branches were prized by their landscape clients for winter arrangements—the vibrant red and yellow dogwood, shapely curly willow, and timeless pussy willow stems— and saw the opportunity to grow their own twigs. “Never one to back down from a challenge,” Terri says, the McCulloughs saw opportunity in this market gap. So in 2009, Karl, Terri, and Josh, entered into a partnership, purchased land, and set out to build Red Twig Farms, to meet their own landscaping firm’s branch needs, and those of the greater marketplace.
Still, “there were a few acres of land, and the spring season of harvesting that we still needed to fill with crop.” Ever-resourceful, perennially astute, the McCulloughs began casting about to re-frame this problem as potential. Guided by Nick, head of the family’s design firm, and a rising star in the landscaping industry, the McCulloughs explored the idea of filling those empty acres with that late spring stunner—the peony. Not only are peonies deer-resistant, and well-suited to Red Twig Farm’s particular plot, but the gorgeous blooms are a welcome harbinger of spring to brides and Ohioans everywhere, all so over winter. And then, there’s the happy factor: “Peonies make people smile,” Terri notes, speaking to the flower’s nostalgic tug. “So many people are reminded of their grandmas’ gardens when they see the blooms, me included.” And so, the peony planting began.
Local Advantage, Long Reach
From Branches to Blooms Their enterprising efforts bore fruit. In five short years, Red Twig Farms has not only filled its sister company’s needs, but become an esteemed national supplier of high-quality willow and dogwood branches, establishing wholesale accounts in 15 states, and counting. Lightweight, non-perishable, and easy to ship, Red Twig Farm’s vibrant branches attracted a following, and allowed the McCulloughs to extend their reach (and revenues) well beyond Central Ohio. Moreover, the fall and winter stem harvest dovetailed beautifully with waning landscaping demands, providing work for the nursery’s crew.
Instant gratifiers, peonies are not. It would be three years of hard work and investment in drainage, irrigation, weed management, soil prep, securing stock, planting, and cultivating, before the McCulloughs could harvest their first crop. Their patience paid off. In a few short years, Red Twig has become one of Central Ohio’s leading peony growers. Their wholesale business runs the gamut from dozens of family florists to several area Whole Foods. In building their brand, they’ve leveraged new-fangled and old-fashioned channels, alike, to get their flowers in front of potential customers.
Opposite and Below: Peonies for sale from Red Twig Farms at the Worthington farmers market
A professional website, elegant and clean, has proven a valuable sales tool, for blooms and twigs both. Borrowing from his McCullough’s Landscape experience, which includes a lively blog and Pinterest presence boasting an extraordinary 3.5 million followers, Nick and his wife, Allison, were instrumental in spearheading Red Twig’s online presence. Allison is the marketing director for McCullough’s Landscaping, and designed Red Twig Farms’ website. Lindsey, Josh’s wife, maintains Red Twig Farms’ Facebook page, alerting “friends” to upcoming market appearances. Merging the modern art of social media with the ancient art of agriculture, Red Twig Farms has positioned itself as a contemporary grower. Equally important has been the tried-and-true practice of personal outreach. Placing peonies in hand, giving wholesale prospects free flowers, has proven a winning strategy. “Nothing speaks louder than product,” Josh observes. And Red Twig peonies are particularly eloquent. They’re still in discovery mode, Karl points out, establishing relationships, respecting pre-existing contracts, learning the wholesale buyer’s timeline. And even as the floral market globalizes, with blooms shipped to Ohio from far-off Holland, Karl underscores that “the local player has the advantage, since they don’t have the distribution costs.” That is, as long as the product is quality, and the price right. Check, check. With their premium peonies, horticultural expertise, and sophisticated processing, the McCulloughs are well-positioned to watch their market share grow. Red Twig also sells peonies retail, through the New Albany and Worthington farmers markets. Karl and Josh, farm operations manager and partner, man the stands from late May through mid-June, selling their exceptional blooms
directly to customers, with an enthusiasm that is “infectious.” And Columbus-area customers are quickly catching on. Market regulars know “that if they’re looking for peonies, we’re the ones,” at least during the peony’s glorious three-week heyday.
Fleeting Beauty, Enduring Commitment The brief peony season is an intense one at Red Twig Farms; as many as 10 employees are dedicated to harvesting and processing the delicate buds. But although the harvest has a short window, “the cultivation and care to produce quality blooms lasts the rest of the season.” Which brings us back to Red Twig’s model, and the family so carefully crafting it. Peonies are one more piece in the local agriculture puzzle the McCullough family has been assembling for nearly two decades. In conversations with Karl and Terri, the phrase “passionate about horticulture and design” is rivaled only by “phenomenal family” in frequency and sincerity. At the end of the day, the peonies are one more way to honor these twin passions. By filling in fallow fields, providing a fresh product, and supplying another revenue stream, the peonies add one more leg to the entrepreneurial stool. “Everything we try to do, we try to diversify,” says Karl, who brings his years of managerial experience at a Fortune 500 agricultural company to bear on the McCullough’s ventures. In turn, these ventures, ever more wide-reaching, allow three generations of McCulloughs—not only Karl and Terri and their two sons, but also their two adored daughters-in-law, and two grandkids—to braid business and lives together. “We build on each other’s strengths,” Karl says, and in so doing, the McCulloughs re-write, daily, small farming success in the 21st century.
Beyond Twigs So what does the future hold for Red Twig? Great things, if past success and pending projects are any indication. They’re working to identify expert partners to ship their perishable peonies further afield, to Cleveland, Chicago, possibly points beyond. Their twig business is strong and growing, and knows no geographical bounds. McCullough’s Landscape & Nursery is thriving. Additionally, the family recently acquired 10 new acres, which they’re deep in the long, labor-intensive process of preparing for planting. Planting what? “We’re going to expand to more crops, but we’re letting the family decide where they want to go.” As in all things at Red Twig, the future will be, first and foremost, a family affair. Red Twig Farms; 14401 Jug Street Road, Johnston, Ohio 43031; 614-989-0976; redtwigfarms.com.
Molly Hays graduated from the university of Washington with two degrees, one Mellon Fellowship, and no idea when to buy a melon. Since moving to Ohio in early 2009, Molly and her family of five have been getting to know Columbus one ice cream scoop at a time. Molly writes about food and life at remedialeating.com.
Transformational Eating Reinventing health food at Alchemy Juice Café By Stephanie Wapner • Photography by Robin Oatts
hen Alexis Joseph and Abed Alshahal, the collaborative team behind Alchemy Juice Café, were undergraduates studying human nutrition, they discovered a shared passion for food as key ingredient to health. Their shared love of healthy food and entrepreneurial inclinations, however, led them on a much different journey than expected.
After graduation, Alexis earned a master’s degree and became a registered dietitian and Abed began preparing for medical school. In October 2014, their passion for food and health united and culminated in the opening of Alchemy, a juice bar and restaurant that seeks to “demystify health food and make nutrition accessible and affordable” according to Alexis, the self-described “director of nutrition, head of communications, chef, dietitian, and manager” of Alchemy. As a registered dietitian, Alexis combines her clinical expertise with original recipes, which she features on her blog. Her clean, minimalist creations taste like the indulgence one expects at a restaurant but are also deeply nourishing. “This is a restaurant that caters your order to meet your specific health needs,” says Alexis. Alchemy’s staff shares a similar background to Alexis in nutrition sciences and can all make informed recommendations particular to each customer’s health concerns. The café also offers classes on topics ranging from understanding food labels to stocking a home refrigerator and pantry. The food is prepared in what looks like a home kitchen, with open shelves that feature large jars of beautiful ingredients, inviting customers not only to experiment with new flavors but also inspiring them to bring what they learn at Alchemy into their own homes. All of Alchemy’s food is made in-house and their cold-press juicing technique preserves the vital nutrients and enzymes of ingredients like apples, pears, cucumber, celery, spinach, fresh ginger, and lemon. Alexis starts her day early, doing kitchen prep work such as creating sandwich spreads like hummus, hemp pesto, and cashew mayonnaise. She also meets with cusAlexis Joseph of Alchemy Juice Café
tomers for one-on-one nutrition counseling. Then she delves into the management of the business, keeping the inventory of fresh fruits and vegetables current and building her network of local suppliers. Smoothies might include honey from Honeyrun Farms in Williamsport, Ohio, and an accompanying salad might feature kale from Swainway Urban Farm here in Columbus. Customers can enjoy Deeper Roots coffee from Cincinnati and whole wheat toast made by an in-house baker, topped with homemade almond butter and Bonhomie Acres maple syrup. Along with Jeff May Jr., who is also an Alchemy co-owner, Abed is one of the owners of A and R Creative Group, which has pioneered several innovative restaurant concepts in Columbus such as The Crest Gastropub and The Market Italian Village. Alchemy is located just south of the corner of Livingston Avenue and Parsons Avenue in South Columbus, an area that may not seem like an obvious choice for an entrepreneurial approach to eating. Yet Abed and Alexis intentionally located Alchemy within walking distance of Nationwide Children’s Hospital to raise awareness of preventative health for the hospital’s patients and staff and the surrounding community. And as a registered dietitian, Alexis is able to use her education and experience as a way to prescribe food as a factor for wellness.
To further support Alchemy’s approach to health, the restaurant is also affiliated with and adjacent to The Fitness Loft, an urban gym. The café and the gym have worked together to offer a holistic approach to health to customers and clients, including team-building retreats for locally headquartered companies. New members at the gym can take advantage of health assessments that include nutrition counseling with Alexis, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital employees are eligible for discounted gym memberships, making it easier to take advantage of both the workout facility and Alchemy’s inventive menu. By intersecting the hospital, a gym, and the cafe, Alexis, Abed, and Jeff layer food, physical wellness, and preventative medicine in a way that makes customers enthusiastic about cooking and eating whole, clean foods to heal and energize. “Alchemy is a platform for me to showcase the intersection of health and food,” says Alexis, “in a way that is accessible to both traditional and experimental eaters.”
Stephanie Wapner holds an MBA from the Ohio State university where she is now a Phd student. She is an active participant in Central Ohio’s local food movement and writes about the connections between food, cooking, health, and community development.
Alexis Joseph’s 5 Tips for Spring Eating & Wellness Strawberries are packed with immune-boosting vitamin C and fiber. For a spring smoothie, blend a handful of fresh strawberries with a frozen banana, a tablespoon of chia seeds, a cup of almond milk, and a handful of baby spinach. Crisp snow or sugar-snap peas are great snacks and delicious in stir-fries. Whip up a peanut sauce with soy sauce, rice vinegar, fresh ginger, natural peanut butter, and a squirt of local honey. Add in snow peas, sliced red peppers, and carrots for a pop of color. Spinach, lettuce, and many other greens are in full bloom in the spring. Add spinach to smoothies for a dose of phytonutrients. Pile meats, cheeses, and vegetables on fresh salad greens drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and pepper. Spread 2 cups of chopped rhubarb in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast at 450° for 5–10 minutes. Toss with lots of fresh arugula, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, and a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Trim the woody ends off of 1½ pounds of fresh asparagus. Toss with a tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil, a dash of sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Roast at 425° for 10–15 minutes.
—Alexis Joseph, MS, RD, LD
“This is a restaurant that caters your order to meet your specific health needs,” says Alexis.
A look at some of Edible Columbus’ favorite folks and the good food work they’re cultivating in Central Ohio By Colleen Leonardi
his spring Edible Columbus celebrates its sixth anniversary. As we reflected on all of the growth over the past six years in preparation for this issue, we wanted to look back at some of our favorite farmers and food producers we’ve written about to see what they’re up to now. What has changed? What new challenges are they facing? What are their plans for the future?
As you read about Wayward Seed, Jorgensen Farms, Luna Burger, Honeyrun Farm, Swainway Urban Farm, The Kale Yard, Rockmill Brewery, and Stonefield Naturals, know you are surrounded by so many more good food rock stars who are making tremendous things happen from the ground up in Central Ohio one row and field, root and shoot, bottle and barrel at a time.
Adam Welly of Wayward Seed
Wayward Seed’s growth is one of depth. Adam Welly, Jaime Moore, Adam Utley, and the Wayward team have dug into the craft of organic farming rather than seek runaway expansion. “Wayward Seed Farm in the last five years hasn’t really grown that much from an acreage standpoint,” says Adam. “The difference now is that we’re doing it better. We’re doing it more professionally. We’re doing it with more skill and deftness that’s necessary to produce food on acre-per-acre with organic practice in mind.” Turning their focus from growing unusual, niche crops to mineralization of their soil, Wayward now farms more consistent organic crops with higher nutritional value for their CSA. “I learned how hard it was going to be to really do this for a lifetime,” says Adam, “and that for me to have a successful farm growing broccoli and making it available to people organically was something just as unusual.” Broccoli, Adam reports, that tastes like whole grain mustard, butter, and chicken stock in one bite—a testament to the flavor true, organically grown food can carry. And while Adam thinks the CSA model “is the best way for a consumer and farm to ever interact. The best shift of financial and cultural values that can happen in a food system,” he’s also selling wholesale, expanding Wayward’s sales by 500% in the past five years. The future? Adam is moving the farm to Fremont, Ohio, where he and Jaime grew up. “This is where Wayward started,” he says. “This is my childhood of driving past farm after farm of tomatoes and cabbage and sugar beets and seeing things that were different besides soy and corn.” Adam is passionate about expanding the farm from a place where the soil supports what he wants to grow organically. Ballville Township is home to rich, fine, sandy loam soil—“it’s one of those special places to grow vegetables in the U.S. It has the history, it has the ecology.” “It’s the terroir concept,” Adam says, “you go where the soil’s right to do what you want to do.”
PHOTO By © CATHeRIne MuRRAy
Where Are They Now?
Wayward Seed: Becoming a Better Farmer
Jorgensen Farms: Building a Passionate Team
Val Jorgensen of Jorgensen Farms
“I enjoy challenge. I’m honestly not afraid of failure. I never want to miss an opportunity,” says Val Jorgensen, owner of Jorgensen Farms, as I ask her how she planned for tremendous expansion of the farm and its offerings over the past four years. After investing in the Michigan State Student Organic Farm Training Program in 2011, Val was able to build five hoop houses and grow more vegetables year-round. Around the same time, weddings were descending on Jorgensen Farms, only five in 2012, and then Val hired event coordinator, Katherine Harrison, and weddings on the farm jumped to 40 in 2013. Last year, Rowan Evans was hired as community liaison for the farm, and with her partnership with Jorgensen, Val has been able to do more programming with organizations like Mt. Carmel St. Ann’s hospital, visitors’ bureaus, and a burgeoning program to bring kids to the farm in 2016.
PHOTO By © ALLIe MISCH
The flourish that is Jorgensen Farms continues this year with a big move into a commercial kitchen, which will allow for more value-added products and events. “It really opens up a lot of opportunity,” Val says. During the full growing and event season, Val’s team totals about 14 employees, some full-time. When we first featured Val, she had a team of three. “What we’re doing here on the farm takes a lot of work and I’m trusting other people with a lot. You can’t do this alone,” Val says, “I have one fellow that’s been here for 10 years working with me. My sons, Dave and Matt, I really couldn’t do this without them. Everybody who is here is here for a reason. And that’s what it takes. It’s about the people that are here. They are vital to the life of this farm.”
Luna Burger: Connecting Business and Community
Honeyrun Farm: Scaling Up with the Bees
“One of the core things that hasn’t changed is our relationship with the farmers,” says Megan Luna, co-owner of Luna Burger. With the addition of two full-time employees and a handful of part-time employees during the summer, Luna Burger is now sold in 30 states nationwide. Megan and Barbie Luna credit some of that growth to Eat Well Distribution, which has served as a middleman to help them distribute to larger chains, including a recent addition of 60 Kroger stores in the Central Ohio. Luna Burger sources its ingredients for “pure plant veggie burgers” from local farms, so much so that the farmers now want to support Luna Burger. “Now farmers are calling us and saying ‘I’m making my planting schedule and buying seeds and I want to be able to grow these things for you,’” says Megan. “Now we have a pre-season relationship with them. Now we’re helping them have a more stable crop plan. That was really part of our goal all along to help stabilize the local food system.” What’s most near and dear to Megan’s and Barbie’s hearts, though, is “to be more connected in a social justice-oriented way to the community.” In the next year, Megan and Barbie hope to work with the Southside of Columbus and Parsons Avenue Merchants Association to develop a Healthy Food Campus and create things like an edible forest, greenhouses, and more. Despite the challenges of managing the small steps and swells of running a capital-intensive, small, artisan food business with personal resources, Megan and Barbie credit Columbus as a huge player in their success. “I think Columbus is a great place,” says Barbie, “and a very supportive food environment.”
Isaac Barnes of Honeyrun Farm
Isaac Barnes of Honeyrun Farm is a proud papa and beekeeper and Jayne Barnes, his wife and queen bee, is the better half of their life and business. Today they have four children, and Isaac is a full-time beekeeper and runs 400 abundant hives, supplying local stores and honey lovers with some of the best raw honey in Central Ohio.
All this continued growth leaves Jayne and Isaac wondering: How do we scale up? Even with more stores looking to carry their honey, Isaac has to make sure the bees can produce year to year despite volatile weather patterns, like polar vortexes in winter. “I love that Columbus has such a strong, local mentality,” says Isaac. “Several restaurants and stores have sought us out. Lately, The Guild House has been buying a lot of honey. It’s been a PR wave.” Isaac also talks excitedly about how well the bees are doing this year and how he’s thinking there may be more spring honey produced this year than last. And he makes sure to pass the baton to Jayne: “I want to compliment her for being such a wonderful, not only wife, but business partner. It wouldn’t happen without her.” Barbie Luna (left) and Megan Luna (right) of Luna Burger
PHOTOS By © JOdI MILLeR
It’s been a dance for Isaac and Jayne over the past few years of maintaining a balance between selling honey at farmers markets and also having enough honey to distribute wholesale. By combining pollination opportunities with natural methods to keep his bees healthy and not susceptible to Colony Collapse Disorder, Isaac has found more of a sweet spot for success. Jayne runs their online store where she sells honey, beeswax candles, soaps, and more. It’s a full-time job and a big part of the business.
Swainway Urban Farm: Making Urban Farming Work
The Kale Yard: Investing in Land “It feels like an exciting time,” says Erin Harvey, owner of The Kale Yard, a small farm now located on three acres of land in Northeast Lancaster. We’re talking about the scene in her hometown of Lancaster, how new restaurants are opening up downtown, including one of her favorites— The Well—and how the place where she grew up is now able to support more likeminded businesses focused on local, artisan foods. When we last featured Erin she was leasing land on another farmer’s property, struggling with what a lot of young farmers face when they don’t inherit the family farm, or have the capital to invest in land of their own. Yet last summer Erin made the commitment to come back to her roots in Lancaster and buy land to continue growing choice, organic vegetables and educate others about what you can grow with a small amount of space. Her first priority when she moved in was building a greenhouse. “That’s one of my favorite things to do—greenhouse work.” She’ll use it to start chemical- and plastic-free veggie starter plants and sampler packs to sell at the Granville Market this summer. Her long-term goal is to work with the land, implementing permaculture techniques into her growing methods. “One of the principles of permaculture is observation,” she says, “so I am trying to be patient and live with the property for at least a year before I make too many decisions.”
Jospeh Swain of Swainway Urban Farm
PHOTOS By © JOdI MILLeR
“Once we proved to ourselves that we could be successful at urban farming,” starts Joseph Swain as we talk about the growth of his Swainway Urban Farm over the past several years, and prove it he did, along with a team of other homesteaders and urban farmers, including Rachel Tayse Baillieul, who is now a core part of his team and co-founder with Joseph of the newly opened Columbus Agrarian Society.
And while Erin has invested in land, she’s not investing in the career of being a full-time farmer. She’s currently the manager of the Going Green Store. “It lets me work in different areas along the food chain. I love producing things and growing things, but working at the store allows me to work with a lot of other local food vendors and create other sales avenues for them. I do a lot with the Licking County Local Food Policy Council, too, and that’s really important to me.”
After acquiring three times more land to grow more organic vegetables, Swainway Farm has acquired a warehouse to ramp up its microgreen and mushroom production year-round, adding to a growth in sales. Stationed in Clintonville, the warehouse allows Swainway Urban Farm to operate all within a 10-mile radius, cutting back on fossil fuels and actualizing their efforts in sustainability. It will also house the Columbus Agrarian Society. “We’re trying to create an incubation and resource center to help advance other urban growers in their backyard gardens or market growing endeavors,” says Joseph. “The foundation of it is to provide intensive workshops to educate and inspire, the materials and supplies to grow more food organically, and create a community network of people working together to push this whole movement forward.” Joseph is now at the place where he hopes “to take the time to do more things I enjoy in my personal life now that the business has the capacity to employ others.” He continues: “We are building a team of likeminded individuals that are passionate about good food and are pushing their own personal missions forward within the local food system.” Erin Harvey of The Kale Yard
Rockmill Brewery: Making It a Destination
Stonefield Naturals: Preserving Heritage Breeds
Even with Rockmill Brewery’s success over the past few years—being named one of the 100 best beers in the world by Men’s Journal for their Cask Aged Tripel, collaborating with Middle West Spirits and Seventh Son Brewing Company on vinegar and beers, and now selling their beer at high-end markets and chef-driven restaurants in New York City, Chicago, and California—owner Matthew Barbee is focused on what’s next. “It feels great. It’s very affirming,” he says. “But I tend to focus on how we can do things better, so we’re always tweaking the beers and how we can take them to the next level.” “We” includes his mother and brother-in-law, a tight ship for a broad base of Belgium-style ales created at Matthew’s brewing facility in Lancaster, Ohio. In the next year, he’s planning to expand his team and the land on which the operation runs. “I really want to invest in the destination of the farm,” he says as he describes his vision for a restaurant, gastropub, microdistillery, and his dream brewing facility that is designed to house events. While he plans to keep the boutique feel of the place, he wants to capitalize on what people often say when they visit Rockmill—how it feels like wine country and they never knew a place like it existed in the Midwest. “I really want to invest in that so there is a place outside of the city where people can have that kind of experience right here in Ohio.” For all this expansion, though, Matthew doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to his beers. His commitment to craft is as strong as ever and his willingness to experiment and explore for the sake of flavor is ripe. “In 2015 I hope we’re able to release our first sour brand,” he says. “We might also release something that has a much more significant hop profile.” “The community is very excited about what we’re doing,” he says, and we count ourselves among them.
Al Dolder of Stonefield Naturals
“We’re only as good as our last pork chop,” says Al as we discuss the ins and outs of raising heritage-breed hogs. Al Dolder single-handedly runs Stonefield Naturals, and it’s a careful hand he places on the full measure of the farm. Al cares deeply about the quality of his pork and maintaining a consistent supply to his customers at the Pickerington and Worthington farmers markets. He also cares deeply for the habitat of his hogs. This year he’s focusing on infrastructure, looking to create an indoor environment for the pigs that keeps them healthy year-round. It’ll also ensure he’ll produce more pork. “Nothing hurts me more than telling a customer that I’m out of pork,” he says. “I went through a six-week period this fall because I didn’t have the pork, and that breaks my heart.” In plain speak and with a healthy dose of speculation for big ag, Al jumps ahead to genetically engineered (GE) feed and how he is opposed to it for his hogs given so much uncertainty around what happens to the genetics of the feed once it leaves the hog. “We have corn that if a bug bites it, the bug dies,” he says. “Now that corn is harvested. That corn is ground into feed. That corn is either consumed by us as fructose corn syrup, or animal feed. Now where does that gene go? Where does that protein go? Where does that enzyme go?” His frustration lies in not being able to get a real answer from seed men trying to sell the feed to him.
Yet he’s not ready to quit. He says he’s got another 15 years in him. “I’m where I want to die. I think that everybody knows a place where they want to be. A lot us can’t find that place where we want to be. They just don’t feel connected to anything. I just have a strong sense of place,” Al says. “There’s just something special sometimes when we find our place.” Matthew Barbee of Rockmill Brewery
We think Central Ohioans are lucky he’s found it among us.
PHOTOS By © JOdI MILLeR
Al’s questions don’t stop there, for he is beginning to wonder what will happen to his hog operation once he passes on. “I would truly enjoy finding a youngster who is interested in it,” he says, “and showing it to them because when I’m done I want to leave these genetics to someone.”
Good Food, Great Business 12 Good Reasons to Start a Food Business By Susie Wyshak
Learn About the Food Industry BURNING QUESTION: AM I READY FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP? Are you hunkered down at your job, clandestinely reading, champing to start your own thing? You’re not alone. The majority of food entrepreneurs seem to be career changers from nonfood industries, driven to start their own ventures and often with the nest eggs to fund them. So much of taking the plunge revolves around overcoming fear: fear of the unknown, of making the wrong decisions, of giving up security. While your fears can melt away with smart planning and decision-making, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. Read on and track your reactions so you can answer this very important question for yourself.
ABOUT THE GOOD IN GOOD FOOD What exactly does Good Food mean? A quick Google search on the phrase turns up events, organizations, consultants, products, grocery stores, and the ever-so-useful Good Food Jobs site. It’s a bona fide buzz phrase, but for a good reason. We’re a world on the brink of bad food threatening our collective future. Overly processed ingredients and pesticide-laden produce abound. By recent counts, 90% of our corn is genetically modified. The people out there making Good Food are fighting that tide, and changing the world for the better in the process. When you think about what food might deserve the lofty title of Good Food, consider these three qualities the Good Food Awards identified after much deliberation:
“The majority of food entrepreneurs seem to be career changers from nonfood industries, driven to start their own ventures and often with the nest eggs to fund them. So much of taking the plunge revolves around overcoming fear: fear of the unknown, of making the wrong decisions, of giving up security.” 54
TASTY: the product is delicious, and it makes those who eat it happy.
AUTHENTIC: the product contains high-quality ingredients, including local and seasonal goods, and nothing artificial (including no genetically modified organisms [GMOs] or synthetic pesticides); ideally, the company embraces cultural traditions.
RESPONSIBLE: when making the product, the company considers the well-being of its workers, its consumers, and the planet. Trust, traceable ingredients, and transparency into how the company does business are paramount.
What makes Good Food different from so-called “specialty foods,” the prettily packaged foods you find in fancy gourmet shops? Specialty products have their own trade group, the Specialty Food Association, which puts on
the twice-yearly Fancy Food Show, North America’s largest specialty food trade show. The association identifies specialty products as having: •
quality, innovation, and style in their category
originality and authenticity
a commitment to specific processing rules or traditions, superior ingredients, limited supply, or extraordinary packaging
While specialty foods may not fall under the Good Food definition, due to their ingredients or sourcing practices, many Good Food products are also specialty products, thanks to artful crafting and amazing package design. On to the elephant in the room: Are food products “bad” if they use genetically modified (GMO) corn or conventionally grown produce? Not necessarily, says your candy-corn-eating author. Yet there’s no arguing that natural is more likely healthier for our bodies and planet. Small food producers across the country are banding together with this in mind, fighting for more transparency and positive change in our food supply. The hope is that, with greater demand, clean ingredients will become more readily available, and staples such as organic butter and non-GMO corn syrup will become more affordable.
12 GOOD REASONS TO START A FOOD BUSINESS The rewards of your own business are fulfilling in themselves. The joy of feeding people only multiplies that fulfillment. Every business starts with a motivation. As you read about other food entrepreneurs’ motivation, ponder what your own might be: 1.
Share a Family Recipe. Food deeply reflects culture, which may be why
“an old family recipe” is behind so many businesses. Lauryn Chun decided to bottle kimchi, using the recipe from her mom’s Southern California restaurant, Jang Mo Gip (which means “mother-in-law’s house” in Korean). She got licensed, created her brand, and started selling at a small market in Manhattan. After mastering shipping—no small feat for fermented food in glass bottles—Lauryn set up a website and joined some online marketplaces, and soon Mother-in-Law’s Kimchi was gracing the pages of O, The Oprah Magazine on the cusp of the fermented-foods trend. 2.
Spark the Local Economy. Bob and Lora La Mar needed a new vocation
after a government ban of sportfishing went into effect, making their former business obsolete. They taught themselves to make sea salt and slowly grew a business turning Northern California seawater into finishing salts. Their big-picture goal for Mendocino Sea Salt & Seasoning was to help make California’s Mendocino County an agri-tourism destination and create much-needed jobs. (In late 2012, a family matter led the La Mars to, at least temporarily, cease operations and turn their attention elsewhere. Their path exemplifies the types of choices and changes you very well may face as an entrepreneur.) 3.
Work at Home. “Cottage food” or “homesteading” laws allow the use of a
home kitchen for small food businesses in many states. Lisa Cierello channeled her desire to be a work-at-home parent into Lisa’s Cookie Shop in Warwick, New York, transforming her detached garage into a commercial kitchen. Not only can Lisa stay at home to take care of her daughter, but she can also earn a decent living selling to local shops and online nationwide. Plus, her house smells like cookies all the time!
Connect with Community. Many entrepreneurs describe the overflowing
foods and recipes to the forefront, many food companies shaped them-
carts, at farmers markets, and directly to retailers all provide this in-
selves around regional food traditions. The rarer an item, the more it at-
person connection. At P.O.P. Candy in Santa Monica, California, Bill
tracts interest from foodies and the press. A quest to revitalize a dying
Waiste works full time cooking up candy, while his wife, Rachel Flores,
food tradition infuses even more meaning into your work. Red Boat Fish
helps out nights and weekends—in addition to working full time.
Sauce created a market in the United States for a high-grade, centuries-
Farmers market customers and collaborations with other producers (such
old Vietnamese ingredient. The story of Saratoga Sweets shows how re-
as a granola maker) fulfill the couple emotionally and financially.
vitalizing a holiday tradition can pay off. The company revitalized the
Innovate Packaging for Good Eating. In the past, travelers lived on preserved
Victorian “peppermint pig,” a hot-pink mint candy (no, not a natural
and dried foods such as salt cod, flat breads, and beef jerky. Now, canned,
food) you smash with a mallet. Little did this candy shop expect it would eventually churn out hundreds of thousands of crunchy pigs annually.
frozen, and aseptically packaged innovations such as juice boxes solve our modern-convenience desires. Small changes in the way a food is
Preserve a Tradition. Even before the Slow Food movement brought local
joy they feel as customers enjoy their food. Selling food from mobile
Cater to Restricted Diets. Kosher, gluten-free, and nut-free foods are all
packaged can create major markets. Peeled Snacks re-imagined dried
growing categories with an increasing demand from consumers. And they
fruit—a 10,000-year-old category—into a healthful snack with bright,
are now sold in mainstream stores. Divvies, located outside New York
kid-friendly portable packs and singsongy names. Cyrilla Suwarsa and
City, carved out its niche by catering to kids with allergies, making treats
her sister work directly with small Indonesian cashew farmers to make
that are free of eggs, nuts, and dairy products. Similarly, Attune Foods’
and package their flavored Nuts Plus Nuts in metallic pouches swanky
business plan was to grow its probiotic bar business while broadening its
enough for upscale hotel minibars.
brand into other digestive-health solutions, which led it to successfully acquire several established, healthful cereal brands.
Create a Market for Small Farmers. From domestic produce and meats to
fairly traded coffee and cacao beans, each food start-up that sources re-
Re-create a Popular Food in a “Better for You” Way. Free-range, “minimally
sponsibly from small producers makes a positive difference. Both Gela-
processed” beef jerky capitalizes on the desire for familiar tastes without
teria Naia, maker of gelato on a stick, and St. George Spirits, famed for
the bad-food factor. Did you know that Snickers is the best-selling candy
its fruit-based spirits, name the small family farms supplying their fruit.
in the United States? Perhaps that explains why Ocho Candy, Justin’s
The artisans at Grace & I transform local fruits into gorgeous fruit-and-
Nut Butter, and Brooklyn artisans Liddabit Sweets found similar success
nut loaves, a simple and giftable concept.
with their own twists on a peanut-caramel-nougat bar. 10. Make a Fulfilling Living. Pati Grady connected the dots between her desire to start a cookie company and the profit potential inspired by her hometown’s claim to fame: baseball. In October 2004, The Cooperstown Cookie Company launched its baseball-shaped shortbread cookies at the World Series Gala. Pati then licensed the use of Major League Baseball team names to sell customized cookie packs at stadiums. 11. Fill a Local Hunger. Beyond the foodie gulches, many places need better food options. Good People Popcorn emerged for the love and want of great, locally made popcorn. Two sisters and a cousin started this thriving Detroit business with a vision of making Good Food using sugar and butter produced in Michigan. They sell in local retail stores and at their charming shop. 12. Simply Because You’ve Always Wanted to Start a Food Business. You’ve saved up a bunch of cash. You could buy a car, go back to school, or travel the world for a year. Or you could use some of that nest egg to school yourself and develop a line of Good Food products (which, incidentally, will likely take you on travels and lead you to buy an oh-sopractical car for deliveries).
Susie Wyshak is a Good Food business strategist and one-woman think tank based in Oakland, California. She has sourced artisan food for several online marketplaces, planned (and scrapped) her own snack-food business, led the Confections category for the Good Food Awards, worked on the Fair Trade cocoa program, and wrote her MBA thesis on Consumer Attitudes Toward Giving Chocolate as a Gift. Meet Susie at her blog: foodstarter.com.
Text copyright © 2014 by Susie Wyshak. Excerpt reprinted with permission from publisher, Chronicle Books.
from a farmer’s Perspective
Living the Farmer’s Life What do local farmers do to prepare for and unwind from the farmers market? We asked around… By danielle vilaplana • Photography by Jodi Miller
he farmers market is an ephemeral beginning to the weekend for most local food lovers. It’s a time to imagine cooking vibrant dishes with just-picked vegetables and to relax in the crispness of morning before the afternoon heat of Ohio summers. Yet for the farmers, the market is a monumental event that demands long hours of work and planning and offers a chance to demonstrate the knowledge and talent that has made these men and women staples in the Columbus local foods community.
In the Wee Hours For Milan Karcic of Peace, Love, and Freedom Farm, preparation for the market begins several days before. It’s a slow process in which he judges which produce will keep and which should be picked just before the market. “Carrots and beets, I’ll start picking those the day before, but lettuces and herbs, anything that’s not going to keep in the weather, I try to do the morning of, which means getting up at 3am and working with the head lamps.”
Above: Becky Barnes (center third from left) of Dangling Carrot likes to grab a beer at Seventh Son and hang out with friends after the farmers market
In the eight years that Becky Barnes of Dangling Carrot Farm has been cultivating produce on seven acres near her family’s grain farm in Williamsport, Ohio, she’s become methodical about packing produce and unloading it. After filling eight trucks and multiple other vehicles bound for Columbus, she arrives at Clintonville by 6:30am to set up the stand before moving on to Worthington, leaving the Clintonville stall in the care of friends. Steve and Gretel Adams of Sunny Meadows Flower Farm have avoided this challenge of intense, early morning preparation and packing by
hiring additional help, beginning work on Thursday with their small crew and picking into Friday afternoon. After harvesting the flowers, they assemble the bouquets and store them in a cooler to maintain the quality and lifespan of the floral arrangements. As beekeepers, Carmen and Barry Conrad of Conrad Honey and Hive are not subject to the time-dependent commotion that comes in the days approaching the market. If stores of liquefied honey are low, they convert reserves from a crystalized state through heating and water baths. Carmen makes a creamed honey as well, a weeklong process that she begins two weeks in advance.
After a Long Morning’s Work For Marshall Branstool of Branstool Orchards the farmers market is an opportunity to expand customers’ awareness of different produce. “I’ve got so many different varieties of apples you’re never going to find in a store, most people haven’t even heard of them. I like to cut samples off to give to everybody so they know exactly what they’re getting. That’s the most fun thing for me.” Yet despite the full mornings, the day does not end after Marshall returns home. He frequently finds himself in his store, selling again or grating peaches. “When I get back here, it’s pretty busy. Sometimes we don’t have enough room to park. That’s a good problem to have
and I’m not complaining, but I usually need to get right back in there.” Milan often finds himself in his garden as well, after spending time with his wife and dog, taking a nap, or lying in the grass. “You love it, so it’s not that bad. Every day is not a walk on the beach, but loving your job the way I do, it’s not really that difficult to get back out there.” Though the growing season is busy and makes hobbies and social lives difficult to maintain, each farmer has a way of unwinding. Marshall enjoys CrossFit and fishing when he has time, and Barry, a retired photographer, still does some commercial photography. Milan and his wife are half of the local band, “Alwood Sisters,” which also includes his brother and sister-in-law. Becky has made a rule against working on Saturdays after markets and uses the evenings to hike or go out with friends. She drew her farm’s name—Dangling Carrot—from modern philosopher Slavoj Zizek’s theory of pleasure in the pursuit of a dream, citing the classic image of the mule striving for the carrot. “Balance—that’s a good word. I’m trying to learn that over the years. I used to really pride myself on putting in these long days, and not just pride myself, I actually had to do that for four or five years, but now I am more proud if I can take a little time off.”
Gretel is working a wedding, Steve likes to stay in Columbus later and can often be found at Harvest Pizza. “We used to have to harvest on Saturday when we got back but then we made the decision to bring in a couple of employees to pick while we’re at market. When we brought on staff, we knew that it was going to cost a lot of money, but we looked at quality of life to help us decide that, yes, it might cost a little bit, but I don’t have to work as late on Saturdays.” Milan, Becky, Steve and Gretel, Marshall, Barry and Carmen all seem to have found a certain balance in the successive process of markets and labor, and the flirtation with new ideas. While continued growth is in their future, they strive to maintain their personal lives and connections to the community that has supported them, a balance that is truly the universal metaphorical carrot. As Becky says of living the farmer’s life, “…what’s important is to just live your life happily, because it is a good life, but you can’t let work take you over.”
Danielle Vilaplana is passionate about conservation and sustainable growth and development locally, nationally, and internationally, and believes that agriculture is an important element of these principles. danielle holds a B.A. in anthropology and globalization studies from The Ohio State university.
Steve and Gretel find Saturdays after the market to be the most enjoyable time, when they can have a few beers with the crew and take a nap. If
in the garden
Spring Greens, Spring Foods From lamb’s quarters and chickweed, to cattail shoots and dandelion greens, what’s edible in your backyard this season By debra knapke
nce upon a time there were no grocery stores where we could purchase year-round greens. And during the cold months we ate foods that we dried, canned, and otherwise preserved so we could survive. Spring was a time to harvest wild plants or grow plants from seeds brought from other lands. There was a connection with the land and the plants that would reinvigorate our “winter” bodies. Today, we call many of these spring foods weeds.
PHOTO By CAROLe TOPALIAn
There is a resurgence of interest in greens: these healthy, easily grown plants that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Some may call this a new movement, but, really, it’s a reconnection with traditional or “native” foods. While deciding which edible greens to write about, I thought about the plants that show up in my garden all on their own. The first edible green that came to mind was chickweed (Stellaria media). This annual makes lots of seeds, a fact that once depressed me. But as an edible and medicinal plant, it is now an asset, not a problem in my garden. What I don’t eat, I pull and leave in the garden as a mulch. I first ate it when it hitched a ride into the kitchen with some lettuce. It has a pleasant taste and texture.
And now a disclaimer: I have not eaten all of the edible greens I write about here; it is one of my goals for this season. To make up for my inexperienced palate, I called upon Peter Borchard, owner of Companion Plants in Athens, Ohio, to be my taste expert. One of his favorite wild greens is lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album). This member of the beet family also goes by pigweed, goosefoot, and other, not-so-complimentary names. The flavor is similar to spinach, beet greens, and Swiss chard, which are all in the same plant family. If you are sensitive to oxalic acid then go slow when tasting this green. In my garden it shows up in compacted, poor soil and the plants are small and scrawny. Last fall I scattered some seeds in better soil and expect that these plants will be filled out, handsome, and tastier. Peter mentioned that the seeds can be ground into flour. I suspect that this would be similar to quinoa flour, also a member of the beet family. Pokeweed (Phytolaca americana) is a native edible green that must be harvested with caution; when cutting the young shoot (7 inches tall or less) make sure no part of the root is included. I mention it because many references say it is a preferred spring “salat green”—after you boil the shoots in two changes of water. This is one plant I will not taste-test this season. There are also recipes for jelly and pie from the poisonous berries. I think I’ll just leave those for the birds.
A more refined spring green is garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and French sorrel (R. scutatus), which are native to the British Isles and Europe respectively. Both have a tart, lemony flavor and are good raw or cooked lightly in sauces or soup. In good soil expect garden sorrel to grow 24–30 inches tall and 24 inches wide. It also grows a deep taproot, which is difficult to remove, so make sure you plant this perennial where you want it. French sorrel is a smaller plant and less cold-hardy than garden sorrel. It is important to plant the correct species: Sheep sorrel (R. acetosella) is used as a medicinal plant, but its oxalic acid content is too high for the leaves to be eaten in any quantity. Our native cattail (Typha latifolia) is a very useful plant. According to Peter, the new spring shoots and the young rhizomes—harvested from the edges of the cattail colony—are tender and delicious. The cattail fruit has been used to make flour and the leaves can be used for weaving. The accidently introduced European cattail (T. angustifolia) and the hybrid between the American and European species have caused a decline in our native cattail populations. All three are edible, so it’s time for some enterprising chef to declare that cattail shoots and rhizomes are the new native food discovery! Another wetland edible is the peppery watercress (Nasturtium officinale). One of my references states that it is the “oldest recorded vegetable.” This member of the mustard family is often used on sandwiches, but I enjoy eating it by itself or as a garnish or palate cleanser between courses. A related family member is garden cress (Lepidum sativum), which has a similar spicy flavor. Both are often cultivated in hydroponic growing systems, hence their year-round availability in markets and restaurants.
Another native that shows up on restaurant menus is ramps (Allium tricoccum), also called wild leek, spring onion, ramson, and more. The flavor of the bulbs is delicious and it will stay with you for one or two days after you eat it. For this plant, what’s under the ground is more prized that what’s above. This species will self-seed if it has loamy woodland soils. I would be remiss if I did not include one of the most important potherbs from Europe and Asia, the much maligned dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). The beneficial aspects and uses of this plant could fill an article in itself. I prefer to eat the young leaves. The older leaves become quite bitter, especially once the plants forms flower buds. The bitterness can dissipate when the leaves are cooked, but truthfully, at that point it’s time to switch to another green. Tea made from the root has a deep coffee-like flavor similar to chicory, and the flowers have been used in wine. One caution: if you harvest your plants from a lawn, make sure that it is free of pesticides. So winter, the time of hibernation and eating comfort foods, has passed. Embrace spring. Go out, re-engage with nature, and eat some weeds!
Debra Knapke is a teacher, lecturer, garden designer, consultant, and gardener. She enjoys snacking on plants as she tends her ⅔-acre garden. She has written five books and is a Heartland Gardener: heartland-gardening.com.
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Life on Flying Bunny Farm By dinty W. Moore
y wife and I have moved 10 times in our 30 years of our marriage, and each time I’ve planted some sort of garden, ranging from a meager patch to a sprawling 20by-20-foot plot near the back fence. Gardening is the one activity I’ve found that quiets my mind and dampens some of my Type A tendencies. Perhaps because it reminds me of being a boy and playing in the dirt. Of course the other attraction is the flavor of freshly grown food. I didn’t grow up gardening, and was in my early twenties when I first experienced garden-fresh produce. It was a revelation. Vegetables aren’t mushy? They don’t taste of aluminum? So three years ago, when it became clear we needed a larger home, my main concern was where I would put the new garden. My wife,
Village Bakery, where a dedicated array of sustainable food enthusiasts (I call them “those damn hippies,” but with great affection) congregate for food and community. I couldn’t say no.
commenting on the progress of my plantings. I found myself giving impromptu tours, offering garden advice to my neighbors, proselytizing over the taste of Italian dandelion greens.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll learn to garden in containers. Like those urban gardens we used to admire when we lived in Philadelphia.”
“You grow dandelions?” people would marvel. “I spend hours trying to get rid of them.”
“Are you sure?” I wasn’t but said that I was. We bought the house. Soon enough, I realized that the cement slab that serves as our backyard doesn’t get much light, but the side of the house—we are on a corner lot—faces East, and is bathed in direct sunlight for most of the morning and early afternoon. So I quickly dug up about 100 square feet of raised beds on the small side lawn, attached deer fencing to tall
Gardening is the one activity I’ve found that quiets my mind and dampens some of my Type A tendencies. Perhaps because it reminds me of being a boy and playing in the dirt. Renita, was concerned with everything else: comfort, privacy and space for our family, location, and aesthetics. I remember the concern on her face when she told me one evening that she had found the perfect new house for us, in a part of Athens— our funky little college town—where we had always wanted to live, at a price we could reach up a little and afford, with stunning 100-yearold woodwork, and a sweet front porch. “Um,” she said, “there is one problem.” “What?” I asked. “There’s no backyard. Just a cement slab.” The house was everything we had dreamed of, and as a bonus, it sat just across from the iconic 64
bamboo poles (Athens has about as many deer as college students, and they’re equally hungry), and started my garden. Within a few weeks I stumbled across a hand-carved wooden rabbit sculpture at an antique store, brought it home, and attached it to the poles that formed the garden gate. Within days, a friend’s child had dubbed my side yard “Flying Bunny Farm.” The location has been great for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, basil, onions, garlic, and more, but what I didn’t anticipate is how on display my side yard garden would be compared to many backyard gardens I had cultivated over the years. Because the garden gate is just a few feet from the sidewalk, and because of our location across from the busy bakery, dozens of folks walk by the garden every day, and before long, many of them were
After countless questions, I stuck prominent plant labels in the dirt so folks could appreciate the unique tomato varieties (Japanese Black Trifele, Indigo Rose, Oregon Spring), some of the more obscure herbs (Cuban Oregano, Papalo), and the cute, miniature yellow bell peppers (Tweety Birds). Now, I’m an average gardener—enthusiastic, self-taught, but not sophisticated. I tend to buy my seedlings at the farmers market because I haven’t learned to start plants from seed without raising anemic, leggy sprouts. I’m confused by soil chemistry, and I often overwater. But within weeks, people were bringing their friends to see my garden, asking me where I found certain varieties of plants, seeking advice on what grows well in our Southern Ohio climate. I’d like to think two or three new gardens were started this past summer simply because people could see what fun I was having, and how little equipment was needed to pull it off. I have become an accidental ambassador for growing your own food, making my own tiny contribution to saving our planet. And I can’t wait for the coming spring, when I will expand, and start all over again.
Dinty W. Moore is author of Dear Mister Essay Writer Guy: Advice and Confessions on Writing, Love, and Cannibals as well as the memoir Between Panic & Desire. He is professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio university.