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Archive for the ‘The 30 Mile Meal Community’ Category

The CFI Donation Station addresses Athens County’s most immediate food security issue-access to healthy fresh foods for all. We receive both food and monetary donations each week at the Athens Farmers Market from market customers and vendors and local community gardeners. The monetary donations are used to purchase fresh foods from the market vendors. Additional funds allow us to purchase food from the Chesterhill Produce Auction.

All of the food collected is distributed weekly to local food pantries and social service agencies. In 2012, over 44,300 pounds of produce and local food products were distributed!

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Crumbs Bakery is a staple of the Athens, Ohio community, offering a wide range of breads, pastries, and other baked goods. They take pride in traditional baking craftsmanship and strive to make only the most high quality and wholesome products. They value all-natural and organic food production, responsible sourcing, and community building. At Crumbs they rise early in the day to handcraft a wide assortment of breaks and treats for local vendors and faraway fans. Their specialties include Artisan breads, cookies, pastries, pasta, bagels, crackers, granola, muffins, croutons, and custom made cupcakes. From their popular Birdseed Bread to their decadent Chocolate Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies, Crumbs provides taste with a conscience…great to the last Crumb. Crumbs has been in business since the 1970’s and still continues to serve Athens as a proud partner of the 30 Mile Meal always providing the community with locally sourced and fresh items daily

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Check out Frog Ranch bottling their salsa at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) kitchen. Frog Ranch Foods proudly offers a line of wholesome, high quality, great tasting All-Natural Salsas and Pickles. Selling at a rate of one jar per minute, Frog Ranch products are available in grocery and specialty food stores throughout the greater Midwest, including Kroger, Meijer, Outpst Natural Foods, Copps, Rainbow, Sendik’s, Jungle Jim’s, Pick-N-Save and online. The best part about Frog ranch is that it is as local as it can get when it comes to the Athens 30 Mile Meal because it is made right in the heart of Athens! Grab some Frog Ranch salsa off the store shelves today and enjoy the taste of truly local food!

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The Famacy located on Stimson in Athens, Ohio is about as local as local can get! They are a “small, independent, but full-service, natural foods grocery store. They feature a wide selection of ethnic, vegetarian, organic, and special dietary-needs foods.” The Farmacy was one of the first establishments in Athens to focus on the locavore movement and truly gives the community options when it comes to sourcing locally in ones own kitchen. They provide ingredients in bulk in order to use in ones everyday cooking. The Farmacy locally sources anything from herbs & spices, gourmet coffees, dairy products, fruits vegetables along with serving many customers on a day to day basic in their natural foods deli. Green Edge Gardens, Shade River Farms, Snowville Creamery, Herbal Sage Tea Company are only a select few of the many farmers, CSA’s and food producers that the Farmacy locally sources from. The Farmacy is proud to have served the Athens community since 1971 and their main mission is continue the Loacavore movement and continue giving the community a place where they have no other option other than sourcing locally giving back to their own community.

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The Village Bakery and Café is not only your typical bakery, but also an undercover market for many locally produced food items right inside of the restaurant itself. They offer menu items such as soups, salads, sandwiches, baked goods and more. The Village Bakery and café is fortunate to be a part of a developing complex sustainable food system and source from many local distributors such as Starline Organics, Green Edge Gardens, Shade River Farm, Harmony Hollow, Snowville Creamery, Laurel Valley Creamery, Sassafras Farms, King Family Farms, and Ridge Runner Coffee whom roasts their coffee about 500 feet away from the establishment itself; you can’t get more local than that! The list goes on and on making The Village Bakery and Café one of the most locally sourced restaurants within the Athens area.” As a restaurant, we feel privileged to feed our community in a manner that not only nourishes our neighbors, but that also has a net positive effect on our global village.

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Chris and some Spicebush branches

Integration Acres’ Chris Chmiel is a passionate promoter of the cultivation and use of native plants. Known as the Pawpaw guy, he advocated for its designation as Ohio’s official native fruit, turned it into a cash crop, inspired the creation of many value-added products, and, for the last 13 years has hosted the Pawpaw Festival.  On June 23rd, he held the 2nd annual Summer Solstice Spicebush Celebration at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Spicebush is found throughout all of Ohio, and is an understory shrub of moist to wet woodlands. Its twigs and branchlets, when scraped, emit a spicy fragrance. Bright red fruits appear in late summer and early autumn on female shrubs. Its dark green, glossy foliage (like that of Pawpaw), is unusual for woody plants thriving in full shade. As a native of the Eastern United States, Spicebush can grow to 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide and is a member of the Laurel Family, related to Sassafras and other Spicebushes.

Michelle and Eric doing some scoring

Prior to Saturday, my only experience with Spicebush was as a tea, having purchased the dried leaves and twigs from Chris at the Athens Farmers Market. So I was delighted when Chris asked if I’d be a judge for the Cook Off event. Upstairs in the Dairy Barn, I joined Michelle Wasserman (a worker-owner from Athens’ much beloved Casa Nueva) and Eric LeMay, a food writer and OU professor – both dazzled me with their ways of describing food, over the next few hours). With our rating sheets at hand, our cameras nearby, we were ready to discover the tastes of the Spicebush. Kristen LaMay helped coordinate the tasting and kept a steady supply of Spicebush infused items coming our way.

Iced Spicebush tea in cups made for the Celebration

We began with the beverage category. The first entry was iced tea, served up in a cup with the Spicebush Celebration logo – a perfect beginning since it delivered a clean and uncluttered taste of the Spicebush, and educated my palette to the plant’s unique taste.

Lovely Kristen pours our Arnolds.

Next up, a Spicebush Arnold Palmer (a combination of tea and fresh lemonade), created by Stephanie Katterhenrick, also a worker-owner of Casa.

So pretty, so tasty and refreshing

Lastly, a shot glass of Dancing Tree Distillery’s Spicebush gin. Entrant Kelly Sauber explained that his gin contains wild harvested, dried Spiceberries, certified organic Juniper berries, organic rosehips, non-GMO and organic corn from the nearby farms of Kim and Larry Cowdery and Matt and Angie Starline, and some Briess Organic 2-Row Barley from Wisconsin. Wow! If you like gin, you’re going to love Dancing Tree’s clean taste and aromatic woodsy nose. The gin took home the first prize in this category.

How’s that Spicebush gin, judges?

We still had room for this artful bread

Onto the appetizers – dips, cheeses, and more, but the prize went to Michelle Gorman’s (Integration Acres) Smoky Goat Chevre rolled in salt, black pepper and freshly ground spicebush berries. In the savory bread category, the judges selected Patty Nally’s (Avalanche Pizza) Fougassee with a Spicebush pesto.

Savory Spicebush entree

Our favorite savory dish was Stephanie Katterhenrick’s mashed potatoes, but it was quickly overtaken by her entree presentation. The potatoes (from Cowdery Farms) were boiled in water infused with Spicebush berries and leaves – a clever move! A summer and zuchinni squash dish seasoned with ground Spicebush berries complimented an English beef chuck roast from Sunny Mead Farm, cooked with ground Spicebush berries and steeped leaves, fresh minced garlic from Yankee Street Farm, onions from Cold Comfort Farm, and fresh thyme from HerbaVore Gardens. I never tasted such tender and lovely meat. As we licked our lips, we decided to give her a spontaneous accolade – the Spirit of the Spicebush award.

Then it was on to dessert…Who doesn’t love Snowville ice cream, this one with a creamy vanilla with a hint of Spicebush? But Carole Schloss literally took the cake (award) for her Spicebush German chocolate cake. So delicate, yet infused with that allspice-like, maybe peppery-ness, hard to describe, Spicebush flavor.

The final bite of Carole’s cake

Like the entire Spicebush Celebration, the Cook Off  brought together a mix of local ingredients that satisfied the belly and the soul. Thanks, everyone. I hope you’ll let me do this again.

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Sunday afternoon I traveled to Amesville. This small Ohio village of 185 people has a colorful past that includes serving as an Underground Railroad stop and the unusual way its library was funded more than 200 years ago. In 1803 settlers wanted books, but had no money to buy them. Used to a barter economy, residents collected pelts from the surrounding forest’s fur-bearing animals (mostly racoons) and sent two townspeople east to secure the much desired reading material. Fifty-one books – mostly on religion, travel, biography and history – were purchased for $73.50 and in 1804, the Coonskin Library opened.

My destination was Green Edge Garden’s 2012 Open Farm Day potluck lunch at the Amesville Grange Hall. For those not familiar with the Grange movement, it is the nation’s oldest agricultural organization with a long history of encouraging farm families to band together for their common economic and political well-being.

March Magnolias at Green Edge Organic Gardens

Green Edge Organic Gardens is the passion and livelihood of Becky and Kip Rondy. Their 120 acre farm employs 13 people, with four interns arriving in a few weeks, making the Rondys the largest employer in Amesville Township. Their farm, primarily tended by hand, offers a wide selection of vegetables, including micro greens and specialty mushrooms. When I visited their farm in late January, I was stunned by the volume of vegetables they were growing in unheated high tunnels and their skill at making their operation year-round.

Example of a winter CSA share from Green Edge

 

 

Sunday’s event was an opportunity for their Athens Hills CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members to share a meal, meet the farm crew and take a tour of the farm to see, as Kip and Becky say on their website, “how and why we grow your food the way we do.” CSAs bring together farmers and individuals who pledge support to a farm operation to share the risks and benefits of food production.

CSA members invest in advance to cover the anticipated costs of farm operation and, in return, receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season. Through direct sales to community members, growers receive better prices for their crops, secure money up front for seeds and other production needs, and are assured of a market for these crops.  Athens Hills offers both winter and summer shares and attracts members nearby and beyond our 30 Mile Meal region.

               

Snowville bounty

I spoke with a mother and daughter from the Columbus area. Both were delighted to meet the people growing their food and planned to tour the farm after lunch. They love the freshness and diversity of the food they pick up each week in Columbus. The Rondys partner with other 30 Mile Meal producers, expanding what members can opt to receive. These include Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil who offer Village Bakery bread, Warren and Victoria Taylor’s Snowville Creamery milk, Neil Cherry’s Cherry Orchards fruit, Michelle Gorman and Chris Chmiel’s Integration Acres cheeses, Jack Cantrell’s honey, and Sticky Pete’s maple syrup made by Laura McManus-Berry.

Neil Cherry

After plenty of time for socializing, the crowd headed for the kitchen where the counter was overflowing with delicious food. The desserts required their own table. Soon every seat and plate in the hall was claimed.  Special Green Edge Farm coloring books and crayons kept the little ones amused. Becky and Kip shared their story of growing Green Edge Gardens and Athens Hills CSA.

Becky and Kip talk about the farm

Leaving Amesville, driving past the fields and Bartlett pears, redbuds and forsythia glowing in the afternoon light, I felt the goodness of a place where food production, people and community are co-mingled and remind us of the power of mutual support.

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