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Posts Tagged ‘The Village Bakery’

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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Our mission today at the Athens County Convention & Visitors Bureau: Go forth and eat a 30 Mile Meal Lunch.

O'Betty's chef Ryan Stolz and owner Bob Satmary

Jenna Dill headed for O’Betty’s Red Hot! on West State Street here in Athens. Given the narrow facade of the building, you’d never guess just how much is inside. Like, um, a museum. According to their website, “O’Betty’s may not have the only Hotdog Museum in the World but we certainly have one of the LARGEST, VARIED, and MOST ENTERTAINING – and still growing! You will be amazed by the countless objects devoted to America’s favorite food – the wiener!” We agree!

The King Kong

Back to Jenna’s quest for lunch. Her choice?  The King Kong, featuring a chicken bratwurst from King Family Farm, basil pesto and tomatoes from Green Edge Gardens, Chase Cheddar from Integrations Acres, roasted garlic from Starline Organics, and a whole wheat bun from Fluff Bakery! Jenna says, “It was very tasty!” and notes that Chef Ryan has other 30 Mile Meal dogs barking in the kitchen. One features our state’s native fruit, the pawpaw, and another, locally made sauerkraut. You can learn more about their menu for 30 Mile Meal Week here.  Tasty Dogs + Museum = Cultural Bliss.

Lunch Time

Emily Maluski also headed Uptown for lunch, choosing Fluff Bakery on Court Street. This very sweet eatery is owned by Jessica and Jason Kopelwitz. Both received their Ohio U degrees in 1999 – Jess in business administration and Jason, in chemistry. They moved to Columbus where Jess went to cooking school and, ultimately, became general manager of Lucky’s Cafe. But family ties drew them back to Athens.  They moved in with Jess’s sister, Angie, and her husband Matt, who farm and operate Starline Organics.  When a retail space opened up on Court Street last summer, Jess and Jason jumped. Five exhausting weeks later, Fluff was born as both a bakery and catering business.

BLT - Fluff Style

Emily ordered the Fluff BLT and reports, “This filling sandwich features house-made garlic rosemary foccacia topped with peppercorn mayo, Shade River Organic Farm tomatoes, Starline Organics greens, and King Family Farm bacon. The bacon was thick and crisp and paired wonderfully with the fresh greens and perfectly ripe, red tomatoes. Combined with the flavors of the mayo and the always delicious Fluff foccacia, these local ingredients made for one tasty lunch!”

Village Bakery & Cafe

I headed to The Village Bakery, here on East State Street. Owners Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil also operate three other local foods related businesses: the Undercover Market inside the bakery building; Della Zona, in the building next door and where they recently added a wood-fired oven; and the Catalyst Cafe on W. Union Street. Bob and Christine were early supporters of the local farm and food community and continue to do so.

I’m pretty much a regular, but there’s always something new to try. Despite today’s heat (approaching 100 degrees), a bowl of the Spicy Peanut Soup sounded good. And it was! ( Sadly, I didn’t bring my camera.) Shade River Organics and Green Edge Organic Gardens supplied the vegetables: onion, sweet potato, mushrooms, cabbage, potato, tomatoes and bright yellow summer squash. I liked the satisfying balance of the smooth tomato broth (enhanced by miso and peanut butter) and the tender chunks of vegetables. Accompanied by two slices of the bakery’s whole wheat sourdough bread, it made for a very satisfying lunch.

30 Mile Meal Lunch Mission Accomplished! Tomorrow is another day…

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inside the new oven

Over the last year Christine Hughes and Bob O’Neil have been making substantial changes to their side by side restaurants on E. State Street in Athens. Solar panels now grace the roof of the Village Bakery & Cafe and work was just completed on a new brick oven and remodeling of the dining room and kitchen for Della Zona.

 

Christine keeps watch, ready with the next pizza for the oven

Last week Christine and Bob invited staff, several of their suppliers, and a few friends to sample their pizzas as they fired up the new oven and tested some recipes.

 

Della Zona (Italian for from the region) lives up to its name, with a menu fashioned from ingredients produced nearby. Their pizza crusts are made with organic flours, including an Etruscan one made with 100% spelt flour which has fantastic flavor and is a great alternative to wheat. DZ’s marinara sauce marries locally farmed organic Roma tomatoes with onions, garlic and basil. Toppings include fresh mozzarella and ricotta made with milk from Snowville Creamery, naturally and humanely raised meats, and organic vegetables and fresh herbs, as Christine notes, “without bar codes.”

 

Last week’s crowd devoured dozens of pizzas that will soon be on the menu. Whether a vegetarian, vegan or meat-lover, the choices abound. Guests enjoyed pies loaded with greens and other veggies, mushrooms, cheeses, as well as sausage, ham and other meats. My favorite was topped with King Family Farm chicken sausage, onions, and a tangy barbecue sauce.  All had the subtle, but lovely flavor of the wood-fired oven.

pizza perfection

Della Zona also offers house made pasta, so tender it melts in your mouth. Eggs from locally pastured chickens are kneaded into freshly ground organic durum and Kamut wheat, stone milled in house. The dough is then rolled, cut and cooked to perfection as part of their daily and seasonally changing menu. Be sure to check out their great wine and beer selections, too.

Della Zona re-opens this Thursday (February 17th). The restaurant will be open Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 to 9 PM.

 

All three of Hughes and O’Neils’ eateries (the third is the Catalyst Café) hold our highest 30 Mile Meal partner ‘something to crow about’ designation. This uber 30MM status is reserved for those eateries that when given the choice between local and at a distance ingredients, buy local first.

 


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Like an eight course meal (local, of course) 30 Mile Meal Week (September 17-25) was packed with tasty offerings – something for everyone to enjoy! True, our week had more than seven days, but that’s how much time we needed to showcase the depth and breadth of our local food-ness. Here’s a look back.

 

Power to the Pawpaw!

 

Held on the shore of tranquil Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio , the 12th Ohio Pawpaw Festival gave us a celebratory three day start to the week. The Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) was declared the state’s official native fruit in 2009, thanks largely to the efforts of Chris Chmiel and Michelle Gorman, owners of Integration Acres. The festival draws thousands from near and far and features all things Pawpaw – music, food, contests, art, history, sustainable living and other workshops, and activities for kids. Vendors abounded, many of them offering appropriately themed concoctions – everything from Pawpaw beer (Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery) to Pawpaw ice cream (Snowville Creamery).

 

The crowd lines up at Crumbs Bakery's stall

 

The Athens Farmers Market is more than 35 years old, the largest Farmers Market in the state, and a much loved part of Athens’ food and social scene. The market is open from 10 AM to 1 PM year round on Saturdays, and on Wednesdays, from April to December. Many of the Market’s farmers are 30 MM partners and provide an amazing array of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, baked goods, condiments, plants and flowers, herbs, and much, much more! Three market dates fell within our30MM Week. On Saturdays, you’ll find music, demonstrations, and the Market Cafe, a great place to catch up with friends while enjoying local fare! And some Saturdays, there are Junior Chefs workshops for kids.

 

Making spring rolls

 

 

auction abundance

 

Another reoccurring event during the week (Monday and Thursday) was the Chesterhill Produce Auction. This seasonal market offers produce, often in large quantities, to a range of buyers. Produce is usually brought in on horse drawn buggies and laid out on pallets for customer inspection. The auction is fast-paced and exciting and draws many who enjoy the atmosphere and sense of community while purchasing the high quality farm products.

 

An Athens Favorite

 

The week was full of ‘local eating’ opportunities, as the some partners featured menu items incorporating local foods throughout the week: Catalyst Cafe, Della Zona, The Village Bakery, Casa Nueva, and Busy Day Market. During our Friday 30 Mile Meal Day in Nelsonville, Rhapsody and Fullbrooks Cafe offered locally sourced fare. Heaven’s Oven participated on Saturday during the 30 Mile Meal Day at Eclipse Town in The Plains.

 

Fran preparing a 30 Mile Meal

 

There were two opportunities to learn about how to make delicious food with local ingredients. Community Food Initiatives sponsored a homemade sour cream and cheese cheese workshop, led by Liz Florentino, the Village Bakery’s dairy expert. At the Grover Center Atrium Cafe (and sponsored by Wellworks), Fran McFadden and his team from the Ohio University School of Applied Health Sciences and Wellness presented a hands-on local food cooking class and meal.

 

the farmers keep the harvest coming

 

On Wednesday, September 22nd, the Athens Farmers Market pulsated with the oranges and yellows of fall, pumpkins and squashes among the bounty offered by over 25 vendors. Over at the 30 Mile Meal tents, the crowd gathered for our public event. Leslie Schaller, representing ACEnet welcomed the crowd and introduced Jack Cantrell, Athens Farmers Market president and co-owner of Cantrell Honey and Candles.

 

Frances Strickland, Leslie Schaller and Paul Wiehl

 

Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl delivered a proclamation declaring 30 Mile Meal Week and then introduced Frances Strickland. The First Lady, a long time supporter of local foods and Ohio agriculture, spoke about the importance of this project as a model for other parts of the state. She was delighted to receive a huge canvas bag of local foods. You can watch a brief clip of Strickland’s comments here.

 

Sarah Slater

 

 

Christine Hughes

 

Other speakers included local business owners, Christine Hughes, co-owner of The Village Bakery, Della Zona and Catalyst Cafe and Sarah Slater, a Casa Nueva worker-owner.

 

Angie Starline

 

 

Chris Chmiel

 

Two farmers shared their support for the project: Angie Starline, co-owner of Starline Organics and Chris Chmiel, co-owner of Integration Acres. Paige Alost from the Athens County Convention and Visitors Bureau concluded the program.

Nelsonville's Public Square

On Friday, 30 MM activities were evident in two towns – Trimble’s Township Farmers Market took place and in Nelsonville, several shops on the Public Square offered local foods tastings during their final Fridays festivities.

 

Eclipse Company Store

 

The week concluded with Saturday’s Local Foods Dinner at the Eclipse Company Store, drawing 130 people to enjoy chef David Lopez’s fabulous meal and live music.

A big thanks to all who made the week so much fun and to those that joined us for the launch of this exciting initiative!

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