Posts Tagged ‘Shagbark Seed & Mill Company’

The crowd checks out information on Go Wild for Local Foods activities at the Athens Farmers Market

This past Saturday, 30 Mile Meal, WellWorks, Live Healthy Appalachia, and Athens Healthy Community Coalition folks arrived at the Athens Farmers Market with pots and pans. Ready to host their Go Wild for Local Foods event, we had two purposes: to offer a local foods cooking demonstration for Market shoppers and increase support for the Market’s vendors and Community Food Initiatives‘ Donation Station.

Info table promoting food-related programs in Athens area.

Under the Market’s Cafe tents, organizers set up food prep and cooking areas for guest chef, Pam Nalbach, from The Wilds. Local foods for her mystery basket of ingredients were collected from generous Market farmers and vendors.

Go Wild volunteers from the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity and the OU Dietetics Club fanned out across the market to pass out yellow punch cards and to punch the tickets of shoppers who purchased from at least four Market vendors and made either a cash or food contribution to the Donation Station. These cards were then entered into a drawing for prizes, including Safari Tours at The Wilds.

Pam at work.

Plenty of fresh produce populated Pam’s food basket: leeks from Shade River Organic Farm, tomatoes from Green Edge Organic Gardens, peppers from Cowdery Farms, black Russian kale and spinach from Duff Farms, Asian greens from Dexter Run Farms, Sassafras Farm’s butternut squash, a bag of Cherry Orchards’ Melrose apples, and frozen elderberries from Herbal Sage Tea Co. Rounding out the menu possibilities were cheddar and Swiss cheeses from Ohio Farm Direct, Casa Nueva’s Shitake ginger vinaigrette, and black beans and spelt, precooked and donated by Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. What would the chef make?

Salad is almost ready for tasting...



Pam began chopping, stirring, seasoning, and simmering. Not long after, the audience was enjoying samples of a spinach, Asian greens and spelt salad, dressed with Shitake and ginger vinaigrette and a butternut squash, leek, and apple soup.

After the event, Pam was presented with a 30 Mile Meal canvas bag filled with foods from the region, including corn chips from Shagbark Seed & Mill Co., tea from Herbal Sage, Gillogly Orchard’s apple cider, rolled oats from Starline Organics, romaine lettuce from Vest Berries and Produce, Cantrell’s honey, Mex-City’s red raspberry chipotle salsa, Dale’s Creations apple pumpkin butter and chocolate clusters from O’Chocolate.

We’re delighted to report that the Donation Station received $300 more than its typical Saturday cash donations and considerably more produce as a result of this event.

Many thanks to all who made this a great showcase for our local foods community including Kip Parker and Michelle Gorman from the Athens Farmers Market, Pam Nalbach, Danielle Bray, the APO and OU Dietetics Club volunteers, Francie Astrom, Ruth Dudding, Mary Nally, Louise DiLullo, Heather Anderson, Kim Valentour, and all the farmers and food producers who donated their fabulous foods for this event!


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This afternoon, Jenna, Emily and I walked up Athen’s West Washington Street to Restaurant Salaam – our 30 Mile Meal lunch destination. Once inside, the day’s hellish humidity gave way to cool air wafting about a room a riot of vibrant colors. We were hungry and ready for a lunch showcasing local ingredients.

Once we opened the menu, we discovered two 30 Mile Meal specials…


Black Turtle Bean Dal made with beans from Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. and vegetables from Shade River Farm and the Chesterhill Produce Auction. Wild raspberry iced tea.

Mediterranean Spelt Salad, a lovely cold dish of spelt berries from Seed & Mill Co., goat cheese from Integration Acres, spinach and microgreens from Green Edge Organic Gardens, fresh herbs from Salaam’s rooftop garden, and summer squash and other seasonal vegetables from Shade River Organic Farm and the Chesterhill Produce Auction.

We also ordered soup and salad from the usual menu…

Gazpacho with an orange, greens and nut salad - with some locally sourced ingredients

Later this week, Salaam will be offering another 30 MM special: Rustic Tomato Stew, a lovely Tuscan-style dish, packed with flavor from local tomatoes from Chesterhill Produce Auction , their own roof-grown basil, and croutons of house made bread. You can learn more here.

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While 30 Mile Meal Restaurant Week officially began yesterday, we were delighted to find Avalanche Pizza‘s John Gutekanst jump starting things with his 30 Mile Meal Bread at  Saturday’s Athens Farmers Market. Our 30MM table was just a few spaces down the aisle from his and we were quite happy when he gave us a loaf (can a loaf be less than 2 inches tall?) to put out as samples along with some blackberries from Vest Berries and brownies from Casa Nueva and Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. (made with black beans).

As usual we were located next to the live music spot. This week’s musician was a grandfatherly type, playing some fine Appalachian tunes on his guitar. It wasn’t long before his granddaughter, perhaps 6 or 7, found her way to our table. Standing just a foot or so above the platter of 30 Mile Meal bread, she asked if she could try it. “Of course,” we said, though we did mention that it contained some hot peppers. She took a bite and smiled. “Is that corn, too?,” she asked. Sure was, along with bacon from King Family Farm, parsley and cornmeal from Shagbark Seed & Mill Company. Pretty sure she came back for seconds. Good work, John!

We’ll be by to try your 30 Mile Meal Pizza, made with local vegetables and cheeses, later this week.

John must have been up all night baking...

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Nearly there

Yesterday was a hot, steamy day – perfect for getting out of Athens and heading into the hills of Morgan County.  The approach to the Chesterhill Produce Auction (CPA) was marked by a tiny barn wearing a painted quilt square. The sun was shining as we pulled into the already packed parking area around 3:15pm. Ahead stood the auction pavilion, its open side doors catching any breezes.

the crowd examines lots of color and vegetation

CPA is now managed by RuralAction;  its mission to bring people to a rural site to buy quality produce and to provide Chesterhill with a rural food destination and economic hub. In 2010, The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs published a report on the development of the CPA which offers a detailed history of CPA’s beginnings and evolution.

At the far end of the barn several tables nearly groaned under the weight of pot luck food and drink. Cold water with fresh mint, an array of salads (Shagbark Seed & Mill Company’s spelt berries were spotted in one), focaccia from John Gutekanst’s Avalanche Pizza, and plenty of cookies and other sweet nibbles. Just behind the pot luck tables, I stepped up to the window to register for a bidding number and was ready to survey the auction’s goods.

awaiting the ride home

Off to the left side of the building, I could see some of the horses and buggies used by the Amish farmers to bring their produce to the market.  While the auction sells produce from non Amish farmers (known colloquially as English),  any producer can be part of the auction.

Brandon Jaeger

The region’s food-focused community was well represented: Leslie Schaller from ACEnet, Community Food Initiatives‘ Ronda Clark (and her daughters),  Michelle Ajamian and Brandon Jaeger, owners of Shagbark Seed and Mill Co., and someone who has become a major customer of CPA, Matt Rapposelli, the executive chef at Ohio University.

Rural Action's Bob Fedyski

Many of Rural Action’s staff and board were on hand including those charged with working on sustainable agriculture and the CPA – Bob Fedyski and Tom Redfern.

Not surprisingly, the heat gave way to a heavy downpour and flashes of lightning and the large pavilion doors were pulled down. But by the time the auction began at 4 pm, the sun returned and the bidding began. Lots of lots…asparagus, rhubarb, maple syrup, bird houses, popcorn (unpopped), wood shavings, garden stakes, and plenty of garden seedlings and hanging flower baskets.  My favorite items were some beautifully made apple crates (which I didn’t get), but I happily came home with some sweet potato starts.

heirloom tomatoes ready for the garden or porch

I highly recommend a trip to the CPA. It’s colorful, there’s a real feeling of community, and you can get some great deals. Auctions take place every Monday and Thursday through October 22nd, with the doors opening at 3pm, giving you plenty of time to check out the various lots.

Before heading back to Athens,  I said goodbye to the patient horses.

see you soon

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Always a popular event, last Thursday’s WellWorks Winter Gathering drew hundreds of people. At least 30 local foods businesses and health-related organizations were on hand with plenty of treats. The event included food samplings, live music, a raffle (we were proud to provide a 30 Mile Meal bag brimming with local foods, thanks to Leslie Schaller and her many ACEnet clients) and plenty of socializing.

I sat next to a woman sharing info on the 2011 Appalachian Health Summit. Her table display included a large plate of fresh vegetables (broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, red peppers, and cherry tomatoes). They looked pretty, but I figured they didn’t stand a chance of being eaten, given the food/sweets competition in the room. I’m happy to report, I was wrong. The biggest eaters from her veggie platter were kids! Some of them came back for seconds. Good job all you mothers, fathers and anyone else who is encouraging children to eat healthy foods.

Now for a few photos from the event…

Got Snowville Milk?

Salaam serves up peanut stew

The crowd enjoys music and food

Eclipse Company Store's Chef David Lopez and helper serve up fruit pancakes

Jonathan Milo Leal's Gourmet to Go

Shagbark Seed & Mill Company's Michelle A. talks spelt

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One food fight wafting through the locavore blogosphere is the attempt to write off the movement as merely a bunch of foodie yuppies in pursuit of white eggplants or edible flowers. But there’s much more going on in the efforts to localize food economies, including work to assure that healthy, local foods are available to all. Here in the 30 Mile Meal region of southeast Ohio, partnerships are turning the well worn adage about giving a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day… into ‘teach kids to grow food and develop business skills and they’ll have more life choices.’

Young entrepreneurs at the Athens Farmers Market

In 2005, Community Foods Initiatives began a community garden program at the Athens Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Hope Drive Apartments, a public housing complex for low-income individuals and families. Soon a group of youths ranging from 12 to 18 were organically growing vegetables and making value added food products to sell at the Athens Farmers Market. Their earnings support YEAH! (Youth Entrepreneurs At Hope) Kids.

Now CFI is partnering with Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. to help seven YEAH! Kids acquire business skills. In this venture, the young entrepreneurs purchase locally grown black turtle beans, corn and spelt flours and spelt berries from Shagbark, a recently-started local company focusing on staple food products. After making these wholesale purchases, they repackage the foods and sell them at Shagbark’s Athens Farmers Market booth.

“This is a great opportunity for kids to learn money management skills and familiarize themselves with inventory, packaging, processing and customer relations,” says CFI Community Garden Manager Lisa Trocchia-Balkits. “It prepares them for work in various ways, and exposes them to local food options that support healthier lifestyles.”

Shagbark Seed & Mill Company owners Michelle Ajamian and Brandon Jaeger

Reflecting on the potential impact of the grant Shagbark received from the Wallace Foundation to partner with CFI and the YEAH! Kids, Michelle Ajamian notes, “This is a really exciting partnership for us. Working with CFI means that we go beyond being a boutique business and it allows us to be part of an effort to provide healthy food access to low-income residents.” She adds, “CFI projects at the Athens and Trimble Township Farmers Market, Trimble Tomcat Culinary Club and Athens City School Family Fun Nights is going to make this possible.”

The YEAH! Kids are already showing some business savvy. They’ve scheduled their sales at the Athens Farmers Market to coincide with upcoming holiday meals and gift-giving. So stop by the Saturday Market on November 20th and December 11th and 18th and see what the YEAH! Kids are offering.

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John Gutekanst

What’s it take to make a 30 Mile Meal? Plenty of partners and as the former executive director of ACEnet, June Holley, would say, “lots of network weaving.” A tasty example of this ‘tapestry of local’ is the recent addition of spelt flour to pizzas made by John Gutekanst’s Avalanche Pizza.

In his blog, Pizza Goon, John tells the story of discovering locally grown spelt and Brandon Jaeger during a 2009 visit to the farm of Joe Hirshberger in Chesterhill. Brandon and Michelle Ajamian (owners of the Shagbark Seed & Mill Company) had asked Hirshberger, an Amish farmer, to grow spelt for them. SS&MC is an offshoot of the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative that works with regional small-to-mid-sized farms to produce, process, market, and distribute fresh, whole, sustainably-grown staple foods.

Serving up local-lious food

Whenever possible, Gutekanst uses locally grown ingredients in his pizza-making and like other 30 Mile Meal champions, showcases the farms and farmers that provide them. A recent series of Avalanche ads puts the faces to the food – Michelle, Brandon and spelt. They also remind us that as we nourish our bellies, we can also nourish the local foods community.

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