Local Roots: A New Kind of Market-Co-op

 

Last week, (Feb. 2), I arrived in Wooster, Ohio, just in time to miss the snowy onslaught that took over the country, but also in time for a superb local foods-based dinner at the South Market Bistro and a visit to Local Roots Market and Café, which had opened the previous Saturday. I’d been alerted to Ray Ban outlet Local Roots before my arrival and I wanted to see what it was all about. It appears to be a hybrid effort to supply local, organic foods to its community, offer a winter indoors farmers market, a café that offers locally made pastries, an educational component, a membership element and some other features, such as the ability to order your food on-line. In short, Local Roots is a fresh expression in the growing local foods movement, and just as with farmers markets, it isn’t necessary for one size to fit all when it comes to co-ops.

Wooster, a small college town about an hour’s drive from Cleveland, has a summer farmers market but nothing happens in the winter. The health food store I visited in search of a lipstick didn’t appear to be championing local foods, but Local Roots now fills these gaps. Located in an spacious old store-front that was once the home to farm machinery, there are wooden tables for the various farm products (the farmers need not be there), a cash-register, cold cases, the bakery area and a meeting room fitted out with information on gardens, seed catalogues, pamphlets etc. A group seed order is in the offing, and there is enough space available for future projects, such as a kitchen where people can make jams and other foods for sale. They’ve already shown Food Inc. and held a discussion following the film, something we do at our farmers market in Santa Fe.

Even though the store wasn’t officially open for business the night I visited, I saw eggs from several farmers, many different cuts of grass fed beef and lamb, maple sugar and syrup, honey, sesame crackers and spelt crackers plus some baked goodies for good dogs, corn for popping, little butternut squash as http://www.gafasraybanoutletes.com/ well as giant Musqee de Provence, several varieties of potatoes, beautiful plump shallots, a variety of cow’s milk cheeses and some terrific recycled but freshly printed tee shirts.  I am the proud owner of one that says “Soil, Not Oil”.  After reading Plenty and knowing how badly the authors yearned for flour to make bread with within the limits of their 100 mile diet, I thought it was especially auspicious for anyone trying the same experiment that Local Roots also showcased both spelt and wheat flours.LocalRootsLogo

I thought this was a pretty decent showing of wholesome things to eat for February in cold, snowy Ohio, and it didn’t even include the fresh foods farmers would bring a few days later, (which they did, despite the snow) tatsoi, arugula, salad mix, radishes, turnips, and breads of all kinds.  Wild black walnuts and hickory nuts, two unusual varieties that I recommend in my new book, Seasonal Fruit Desserts along with maple sugar, can also be found here. Maple sugar is hands down my favorite sweetener and hard to find outside of places like this co-op. I came home with both a bag of the sugar and a dozen gorgeous eggs from roaming chickens and have ray ban baratas already used both. Next visit I plan to delve into the unusual selection of jams and conserves featuring local wines and other ingredients, such as a Chardonnay and Lemon Verbena jelly, or one made with Merlot and black peppercorns.

Local Roots impressive mission is “to establish a year-round market place for the purpose of connecting consumers and producers of locally grown foods and other agricultural products. Our goals are to encourage healthy eating, expand local economic development, promote community involvement, and sustainable living.”

Membership in the co-op isn’t necessary but is encouraged, as are volunteers, for this is truly a grass roots movement.  The web site, www.localrootswooster.com tells it all. Although the co-op is just getting started and figuring out what it is and wants to be, I’ll bet that within a year Local Roots will have put out runners, and it wouldn’t surprise me if before they know it, they’ll be a model for others who want to serve their own communities. For now, bravo to all who put this wonderful effort together!

8 comments to Local Roots: A New Kind of Market-Co-op

  • Marlene Boyer

    Deborah, Thank you for your support of Local Roots and for taking the time to come visit with us. It was a delight to meet you. We look forward to seeing you at the market again soon.

  • What a wonderful article! Thanks so much for visiting Wooster. We have a great downtown, and Local Roots and the South Market Bistro are a vital part of that. Good support creates good energy- thanks!

  • Deborah,
    Thank you for supporting our hand-printed tshirts made from recycled textiles. It’s a great honor to have you see Local Roots and the amazing progress that dedicated volunteers put together. I hope you make it back to Local Roots again!

  • What an excellent model. I would like to see that here in Sonoma California. We have just been given the honor of being the first city in the United States to be designated a “Slow City”, Cittislow. Our year-round farmers market has seen its share of rain this year. A covered place would be very nice for the farmers and the customers.
    Has anyone ever heard of a town that employs a farmer? Where the city contracts with a farmer to grow for the community? It’s something that seems smart for the whole “food security” issue. It may be more secure for the farmer as well.
    Deborah, I’m so glad to find your blog. I met you once at our Friday morning Farmers Market. I was selling produce and you came to fill up for a class at our local cooking school. You praised our food, commented on how rare it is to find celery at a farmers market and suggested lovage, which we now offer. It was such a highlight to meet you and I think of it when my feet are cold and I just want to go home. It makes me smile.

    • Candi – I do remember you and your celery in that beautiful market. Am glad to hear you grew lovage and I hope that people are using it. It’s such
      a good herb.
      What an interesting idea, to have a town employ a farmer. I’ll ask around to see if anyone knows of that. Maybe Sonoma will be the first?
      Congratulations, bys the way, on Sonoma being a Slow City!

  • Carmella Massaro

    Deborah,
    Your passion for regional food sources shone thru with the visit to Wooster Local Roots. It was our pleasure to have you visit.
    We are taking the healing steps together.

  • Hi, Deborah. This might be a crass question, but any idea if Local Roots was profitable? We would love to do a year-round, indoor/outdoor operation in Bellevue but have heard that there was not yet one in the country that wasn’t losing $.

    Christina

  • Wow, I just stumbled upon your blog and am happy to find out that such a great organization is so near me! I’m a chef, health coach, and farmer in Cleveland! Give it up for Ohio!

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