OWENSVILLE, OH- Ohio has a unique geographic climate that allows for us to be in proximity of metropolitan and micropolitan areas while keeping that rural and urban consumer, grower and community connected. Ohio producers raise many species of livestock and grow 200 plus different kinds of crops including a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, nuts, eggs, dairy products and more. Farms that direct market these come in all sizes (Lev & Gwin, 2010).
Not only do we have producers who are growing the above crops but we have a production aspect of turning that product into a value added product. Ohio has a growing entrepreneurial series production of bakery, dairy, snacks, spices, maple syrup, wineries, breweries and distilleries. Many of these are located in urban areas and using local products in their production. Some local entrepreneurs are Pine Lane Soaps made from goat milk produced in Batavia, Harmony Hill Winery from grapes produced in Bethel, Blue Oven bakery from heritage grains produced in Williamsburg, Vista Grande Ranch of New Richmond producing buffalo for lean meat and Firehouse Brewery of Williamsburg producing microbrews from local hops producers. These value added producers only represent a small portion of the value added production that occurs in our Clermont County, many others are “Clermont Proud” too.
We are well aware that Ohio’s #1 industry is food and agriculture, contributing $105 billion in Ohio’s economy each year. Ohio’s employment from this sector is 14% with that being 1 in 7 jobs are agricultural related (Sporleder, 2013 OHFOOD model). Clermont County has been involved with the farmers markets and farm stands since they have been established, either through Extension programming, the local health board with their programs (Clermont CAN and Women Infant Children), community gardens or Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA’s) programs as Valley View Foundation in Milford.
The purpose of Ohio Local Foods Week, August 9 – 13, 2015, is to promote sustainable and healthy communities. The mission of the Ohio State University Extension local foods programs is to “advance the well-being of individuals, families and organizations and communities by holistically addressing multiple issues related to a local food system from production through consumption.” But the question comes back to “what is local?” There is no one definition for local, when making food decisions, consider where the food is grown or raised and make a connection with the producer to understand the aspects that go into raising or growing that food product.
Clermont County residents receive information through a variety of programs and resources. OSUE host food preservation and canning classes through Family Consumer Sciences Educator, Margaret Jenkins. The Clermont Master Gardener Volunteers conduct community workshops on horticulture and gardening throughout the county; Gigi Neal, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator serves as their coordinator. Located on the fairgrounds are demonstration gardens with a variety of vegetables, cover crops for soil improvement and ways to grow your produce. Kelly Royalty, 4-H Youth Development Educator, promotes 4-H gardening projects and has established the “fruit and veggie car” derby during fair week. It has been suggested to have a “sown and grown” category for 2016. Social media, clermont.osu.edu website and eNewsletters serve as informational venues for upcoming programs and resources.
Additionally, SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) programs are conducted across the county by OSU Extension Program Assistants, Mona Glover and Anna Saunders. Their programs are to educate those that are SNAP eligible to improve the likelihood to make healthy choices within a limited budget and choose active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. (USDA-FNS, 2014) Their programming is funded through a grant by the USDA–Food and Nutrition Service as part of the Farm Bill 2014. Additional information may be found at fcs.osu.edu/nutrition/snap-ed.
Why not buy local? It has always been part of what I try to do myself, especially around the holidays, is to buy local. Support the small businesses and promote your community. Keeping profit local contributes more effectively to the local community and more dollars are kept at “home” than being spent on expenses of transportation and production.
Why not grow it, sell it or buy it local! Be “Ohio Proud” and show your support by taking the challenge to spend at least $10 or more on local foods during the Ohio Local Foods week. More information about Ohio Local Foods Programs can be found at localfoods.osu.edu.
Clermont Extension is a non-formal education branch of OSU. The office merges needs of local citizens with OSU’s research through four focus areas: Family & Consumer Sciences, 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources and Community Development. CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information: go.osu.edu/cfaesdiversity.
For more information, contact Clermont Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator Gigi Neal at 513-732-7070, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit clermont.osu.edu.