By Madelaine Wood, Photos Courtesy of Amy Fovargue
It’s no secret that Columbus’ reputation as a “foodie” community is spreading faster than local farmers can grow their produce. With increased interest in locally grown foods from restaurants and consumers alike, The Ohio State University Extension is gearing up to host their second annual Ohio Local Foods Week.
Celebrations will occur across the state throughout the first two weeks of August, including a jam-packed schedule of events right here in Central Ohio.
Events on the itinerary are set to take place from July 30 – August 14, and range from cooking demonstrations and farmstead tours to poetry readings and growers brunches. Some events were conceived organically through a series of meetings between OSU Extension and local producers, while others such as the Columbus Food Truck Festival and North Market Farmers’ Festival happen to fall within the time span.
OSU Extension developed Ohio Local Foods Week last year to raise awareness of agriculture and spread information about the consumption of local foods. Ohioproud.org cites agriculture as Ohio’s number one industry, creating jobs for one in seven Ohioans, and adding over $107 billion into the state’s economy.
With the recent boom in the local foods movement across Ohio, Amy Fovargue, Local Foods Program Assistant at OSU Extension, believes knowledge of Ohio’s food resources will lead to great things in the community.
“We want people to make a commitment to buy local,” Amy says. “There’s a vast amount of food available in Ohio—lets develop our economy by promoting what we have.”
According to the Ohio Local Foods Week website, one in six Ohioans are food insecure, a shocking statistic that Amy considers curable.
“In Columbus, we have a lot of programming in urban farming and gardening to really promote the community gardens,” Amy says. “We have the resources to train others. We can teach people to raise the food, and then we have these great networks to get the food out to communities that need them.”
Teresa Gottier, owner of Green Goddess Suburban Farmstead, the final stop of Columbus Local Foods Week’s schedule, is working to do just that—spread local foods to communities that might not have conventional means of consumption. Teresa, a trained chef, has always had a passion for food, even before starting her suburban farm.
“I’ve grown in my yard for many years and I’ve always had tomatoes, peppers, herbs, that sort of thing,” Teresa says. “When I saw that our food system was changing and collapsing, sort of undergoing this urban takeover, it really bothered me.”
Teresa and her husband responded by building something extremely unique in the backyard of their Canal Winchester home.
“Builders left no topsoil in our backyard, so we had to get creative and build raised beds or containers, which definitely has proved to be a challenge,” Teresa says of their innovative methods. “Our whole lot is probably 1/10 of an acre. Everything we’re doing is minuscule.”
Green Goddess has certainly made the most of their constricted space. Planters completely cover the backyard, growing fresh tomatoes, butternut squash, potatoes and garlic, among other foods.
Originally designed simply to feed her family, the operation has grown and now Teresa sells her surplus to nearby consumers.
“I hope to raise more interest in the neighborhood,” she says. “I would love to inspire neighbors to grow some of their own food and to think local. We’ve had positive feedback, people really showing an interest. In subdivisions you can’t get much more local than a neighbor selling produce out of their backyard.”
Green Goddess embodies the mission of Ohio Local Foods week—bringing together communities to enjoy local goods and catalyze a self-sufficient local economy.
“Maybe the tours, like Teresa’s, will inspire people to start growing things in their backyards,” Amy says. “Awareness of the local foods available in Franklin County is important. If Ohio Local Foods Week does anything, hopefully it creates long-term customers for the farmers markets and gardens in our communities.”
The tour of Green Goddess Suburban Farmstead will occur on August 14 from 2-4pm, to wrap up Columbus’ celebration of Ohio Local Foods Week.
For a complete list of activities, visit their website or call OSU Extension Local Foods at 330-830-7700, ext. 116.
Looking to get involved but unable to attend any events? Participate in the $10 Ohio Local Foods Challenge by spending $10 or more on local foods throughout Ohio Local Foods Week, August 7-13.