A Fresh Look at Local Fresh Foods

A Fresh Look at Local Fresh Foods

In the greater Cleveland area, our access to fresh local produce is prolific. We are blessed with a number of ways to fill our baskets and fridges. Farmers Markets,  Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, Farm Stands, and Open Air Markets top the list.

According to Timothy Smith, Executive Director of Community Greenhouse Partners, “Locally-grown vegetables offer better health benefits compared to commercially-grown vegetables from out-of-state. If they are local, then they were most likely picked and sold within 24 hours, which means that the plants have not lost any of their vitality.  Further, most locally-grown vegetables, (more specifically locally grown greens) are raised organically, which means there are no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, which makes them taste better as well. “

Where can we purchase these fresh, healthy items?

Let’s start with Farmers’ Markets.
A farmers’ market is a physical retail marketplace intended to sell foods directly from farmers to consumers. Farmers’ markets typically consist of booths, tables, or stands where farmers sell fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, prepared foods, and beverages.  As far as farmers’ markets go, Timothy Smith thinks we are pretty lucky:  “There are more farmers’ markets nowadays than ever before; one could argue that the access is better than ever. My only concern is that there is not enough distribution of information about when and where the markets are taking place.” 

I can help with that!  Listed below are a few farmers’ markets to get you started. For a more extensive list, visit OhioProud.org.

Countryside Farmers’ Market at Howe Meadow– Countryside kicked off its 16th year of hosting farmers’ markets in Cuyahoga Valley National Park on April 20.  Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. through October 26, 2019, Countryside will bring dozens of Northeast Ohio’s best farmers and food producers to 4040 Riverview Road in Peninsula. This season, 73 vendors, including 12 new ones, will be participating in the market, selling fresh, seasonal, local produce as well as meats, cheeses, eggs, grains, baked goods, handcrafted gifts, and much more. In addition, according to their website, you “can enjoy live music, weekly cooking demonstrations, and children’s activities facilitated by Spring Garden Waldorf School beginning June 8th.”  For more information, check out their website at http://www.cvcountryside.org/.

The Euclid Farmers Market at Shore Cultural Center- This small but mighty market is located at Shore Cultural Center, 291 East 222nd Street, Euclid, Ohio, 44123.  The market is open Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. starting in June and going through October. This smaller sized market allows for you to visit and get to know your farmers and bakers. You can often peruse interesting jewelry, local vegetables, and freshly baked breads, all while listening to live music.  For more information, visit the market’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/EuclidFarmersMarket/.

North Union Farmers Markets- Beginning with their very first market in Shaker Square, the North Union Group decided to run “certified producer-only” markets. This means each farmer agrees to sell only food they’ve raised themselves or items made locally. They “trust but verify” by visiting local farms to certify the produce they sell is grown on site. The North Union Markets include eight traditional (spring to fall) outdoor and two indoor winter markets. Shaker Square, Crocker Park, Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, Chagrin Falls, Legacy Village, Playhouse Square, University Hospitals, and The Van Aken District Markets are all included in this group. The Shaker Market takes place on Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., April 6 through December 21, 2019, and is conveniently located in Historic Shaker Square. For more information about times and details of the other markets, visit their website at http://www.northunionfarmersmarket.org/.

Tremont Farmers’ Market–  Tremont Farmers’ Market is starting its 14th season on Tuesday, May 7, 2019, at the historic Lincoln Park in Cleveland, Ohio, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The market is under new management and is welcoming back old vendors and booking new ones. Come for the wonderful local fresh food and baked goods, but stay for the music and chef demos.  Visit the market Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tremontfarmersmarket/ for more information.

Next, let’s take a look at a few CSAs:
A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) commonly refers to a group whose members receive weekly shares of food from a certain farm (or groups of farms) in their region. Being in a CSA is a commitment, and takes planning, but It is one of the most direct connections with the farm that is producing your food.  It is also a way for consumers to share both the risks and joys of farming.  Northeast Ohio has a number of local fresh options.  Unfortunately, some of them are already full for the 2019 season. Take a look at the examples below, and visit the local harvest website for a more complete list of CSAs in our area https://www.localharvest.org/cleveland-oh/csa.

Community Greenhouse Partners- CGP is located at 6527 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, 44103, and consists of one hard shell greenhouse and five soft shell hoop houses.  Community Greenhouse Partners is excited to offer a CSG (Community Supported Greens) program once a week. Shares can be picked up starting Sunday, May 12, 2019, and will go through the week ending Saturday, October 5, 2019.  Weekly pickup locations include: The Coit Road Market on Wednesdays or Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1p.m., the Tremont Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the LEAF Community Farmers Market on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and at Community Greenhouse Partners, 6527 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44103, Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There are 50 shares available at a cost of $200 per share.  Participants will receive the following: 2 full heads of various types of lettuce, 1 bag of other salad or cooking greens (arugula, kale, spinach, etc) and 1 box of Sunflower or Pea Microgreens each week. There are 4 local pick up options to choose from.  Deliveries are available for an additional $4 per delivery.  For more information about this unique program, check out their webpage at http://communitygreenhousepartners.org/.

Martha’s Farm- Martha’s Farm is a unique farm with Ethnic Traditional Farming practices based on natural organic and sustainable methods that Martha (the farm co-owner) learned while growing up in  Ecuador. The farm offers sustainable farming and “all natural, pasture-based,” healthy, and tasty chicken, turkey, and pork, as well as a variety of vegetables free of pesticides. The CSA program offers two kinds of baskets: 1. Vegan– healthy, vitamin concentrated, fresh veggies, plus berries, apples and grapes. The price for one share is $30 per week.  2. Vegetarian–healthy, vitamin concentrated, fresh veggies, berries, apples, grapes, plus free-range eggs. The price for one share is $35 per week.  CSA season runs from May to October. The farm offers a lengthy list of pick up options all over Northeast Ohio. Visit their website at http://www.marthasfarm.com/ to learn more.

City Fresh–  This is one of the pioneer CSA groups in the Cleveland area.  According to their website, “in 2005, a ragged band of agricultural outlaws conspired against the imperial food system to form the first Community Supported Agriculture outpost in low-income Cleveland. Two more rebel ‘fresh stops’ followed in 2006.”  City Fresh is different from the typical CSA on a number of levels: City Fresh does not require any money upfront; instead, you pay only for the shares you want to purchase. Simply order at least one week in advance for the weeks you want to pick up. Also, City Fresh serves only areas designated as “food deserts” in greater Cleveland, offers tiered pricing depending on income, and delivers to over 15 pickup locations. Tuesday shares will be available in front of the Euclid Public Library in Euclid, Ohio, June 11 – October 22.  Take a look at this unique Godfather of CSAs website for more information and other pickup locations: https://cityfresh.org/.

Fresh Fork- Fresh Fork Market CSA is a weekly subscription to local, sustainably-produced foods. They work with more than 100 family farms all within 75 miles of Cleveland and put together a share of fresh produce, whole grains, farm-fresh eggs, grass-fed dairy products, and pasture-raised meats.  Summer shares for the 2019 season begin June 5.  Fresh Fork offers three size options. The small share starts at $594 for the season, the large share starts at $946 for the season, and a mini share starts at $660 for the season. Each week, the share is different, and participants will enjoy eating along with the changing harvests. Fresh Fork jokes “that the share starts out green (lots of leafy vegetables), gets colorful (tomatoes and berries), and ends down-right backbreaking (squash, melons, and cabbage).”   Fresh Fork has over 20 neighborhood pickup locations throughout the greater Cleveland area.  Check their website for more information: https://www.freshforkmarket.com/. 

Our area also boasts a wealth of Farm Stands:
Many people think that Farmers Markets and Farm Stands are the same thing, but they are actually quite different.  A farm stand is located near a farm and is typically run and owned by one farmer. These are the smaller markets that you’ll typically find in rural areas, on roadsides, and by farms. In addition to seasonal produce, you might find other treats like preserves, honey, and baked goods.  Finding printed information and internet information about farm stands isn’t easy.  Instead, keep your eyes peeled as you drive, and don’t be afraid to stop at a roadside stand.  Stopping and shopping may yield you the freshest produce out there since most stands pick and sell all in the same day. An added benefit is that you are directly supporting a local farmer. So stop and shop.

Farmers Rail– The Farmers Rail is a farmer-owned and -operated butcher shop and stand located at 1572 N. Cleveland Massillon Road, Akron, Ohio, 44333. The stand offers meats– including poultry, pork, beef, and lamb –which come from animals raised sustainably on pasture on-site at Brunty Farms, Akron, and from their newly expanded Ashland, Ohio, farm. They strive to provide customers with only the highest quality products and customer service. The farm shop is open Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Feel free to stop in, or if you know what you would like, you can order online twenty-four hours in advance to have your items ready for pickup when you arrive.  For more information on this unique farm and shop, visit their website at https://www.thefarmersrail.com/.

The Ohio City Farm Stand–  At nearly six acres, Ohio City Farm is one of the largest contiguous urban farms in the United States. It exists to provide fresh, local, healthy food to Cleveland’s underserved residents, to boost the local food economy, and to educate the community about the importance of a complete food system. The farm is powered by The Refugee Response program. The farm is located at the intersection of Bridge Ave. and West 24th Street in Cleveland, Ohio. Ohio City Farm produce is available through CSA membership (which is sadly already full for the 2019 season,) wholesale to restaurants and retail, and at the Farm Stand. The Farm Stand is a purple container located between the farm and the West Side Market.  Hours vary but are often on Fridays and Saturdays; produce is dependent on seasonal harvests.  Stop in and see an amazing farm and be surprised by their fresh local goods.  Visit the farm’s website for more information at https://www.ohiocityfarm.com/.  For the most up to date information on the farm stand hours and offerings,visit Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/ohiocityfarm/.

Last but certainly not least on our list, we have Open Air Markets:
An open air market is a public marketplace where food and merchandise are sold.  This is an all-encompassing group and can include flea markets and other rummage sale type options; here, however, we highlight a few that sell mainly food or plants that produce food.

West Side Market– Cleveland’s oldest public market is home to 100 vendors offering meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, baked goods, dairy, flowers, ready-to-eat foods, spices, and nuts. “In 2008, the West Side Market was designated as one of ”10 Great Public Places in America,’ by the American Planning Association and continues to offer an authentic and culturally diverse shopping experience for all,” states their website. The market is located at the northeast corner of Lorain Avenue and West 25th Street in the Ohio City neighborhood. The Market is open year-round on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 7a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Market is closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  As with many open air or public markets, vendors rent out each individual space.  It is your responsibility as the shopper to check with sellers to ensure their items are locally produced. There are exciting rumblings popping around the city about a possible renovation to the current produce building.  We are excited to watch what happens.  For more information and updates on the oldest market in Cleveland visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WestSideMarket/.

Cavotta’s Garden Center and Urban Farm Market– Cavotta’s opens April 22, 2019, Monday- Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cavotta’s is located at 19603 Nottingham Rd., Cleveland, Ohio, 44110, and has something for everyone: annuals, vegetable plants, perennials, hanging baskets, over 150 varieties of tomatoes, herbs, statuary, fresh eggs, honey from bees raised at the property, vintage items, and now a bar you can visit for a glass of wine while you shop. (The wine bar will be open Thursday-Sunday during business hours, May-October.)   The owners share their space with goats, chickens, and rabbits, many roaming freely on the property and greeting visitors.  For a unique oasis in an urban area, visit Cavotta’s.  While there, pick up a few vegetable plants to try your hand at growing your own local produce. The small cost of the plant is worth it when the fruits of your labor grow.  For more information and to hear about special events, visit their website at http://www.cavottas.com/.

Coit Road Market–  The Coit Road Market (often referred to as the Coit Road Farmers Market) has been an anchor on Cleveland’s east side since 1932, with a mission of providing access to affordable, locally grown farm fresh products to the residents of Greater Cleveland. This is a year-round indoor market located at 15000 Woodworth Rd near East 152nd and Noble Rd. East Cleveland, OH 44110.  “Situated at the heart of one of Cleveland’s most challenged areas, the Market offers an oasis of green, fresh and nutritious foods, from produce to baked goods, local cheeses to free-range meats. More than 20 vendors serve thousands of customers year-round providing one of the region’s few winter markets. Customers can meet the grower or preparer and know the source of the food and how it is processed” boasts the market’s website.  The market hours are Saturday (year-round) 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesday (June to Oct) 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visit the market website for more information http://www.coitmarket.org/.

I hope this list helps you in your search for armfuls of local fresh foods.   Happy growing and shopping season!

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