This year during my stay in Ohio I tried to visit as many farmers’ markets and produce stands as possible so that I could get a grasp on the local food buzz- who’s who in local farming and vending and what’s the trend for organic and sustainable products.
Boy, was I ever amazed at how much is going on in the local food scene here. People-vendors and consumers alike- are informed and active in buying local, producing local and sustaining a healthy food production environment for the future. Doesn’t that set the stage for some pretty tasty meals?
Yam & Walnut Pierogies from Posh Pierogies
I started out my beginning with a trip to Cleveland’s oldest and most well-known indoor farmers’ markets, the West Side Market. Last year I wrote an overview of some of my favorite vendors; this year I thought I would tell you about a couple vendors (including a Muslim-owned produce stall) at the market, as well as what has to be one of the best falafel sandwiches I’ve ever had.
Samah Produce is Muslim-owned and run. They sell fresh fruits and vegetables and are friendly, allowing customers to try samples of fruits before purchase. Look for them at the covered, semi-outdoor stalls 19, 21, and 23.
Ohio Concord Grapes from Mena’s Produce
Mena’s Produce was another place I stopped to take photos of these gorgeous Ohio Concord grapes, ones I grew up on and that simply must be sampled. They are so packed with flavor that no supermarket grape can compare to its intensity. These grapes are particular to the Lake Erie region due to the incredibly unique micro-climate we have here in northeast Ohio along the shore, where the air is moist and the soil highly acidic.
Now on to seriously the best falafel sandwich I’ve ever had. I have to say, I’m always skeptical of places that are touted as ‘the best’ of anything- says who, right? I ordered with regular expectations, nothing out of the ordinary. Then, with my first bite I was elated to a level of falafel happiness like never before. You see, I don’t like crunchy falafels- those that have been fried so long you can barely break into them. I didn’t know they could be cooked so well. masha’allah. And, if that wasn’t enough…there’s the sauce. They’ll ask you if you want the hot sauce (which I rarely turn down)– that just takes the already-delicioso sandwich to another level of falafel happiness.
1979 West 25th Street (inside the West Side Market)
corner of West 25th St. & Lorain
Cleveland, Ohio (Ohio City Neighborhood)
Mondays & Wednesdays, 7am-4pm
Fridays & Saturdays, 7am-6pm
Now on to another small and precious gem of a farmers’ market that Clevelanders are proud about: the Tremont Farmers Market.
Apple Farmers of Woolf Farms and Posh Pierogies Stand
The Tremont Farmers Market is a five-year old weekly outdoor market located in one of Cleveland’s hip, urban centers. The market hosts space for vendors of cooked foods, local produce, purveyors of organic products and even cutlery sharpening.
Our first stop at the market was to check out the beautiful, locally-grown organic produce. As farmer Kevin Leamer of Por Bar Farms replied when I asked him if his good were organic, it’s way beyond pesticide-free and organic. He grows the stuff himself and ensures absolutely no chemicals touch his heirloom tomatoes, peppers and berries (among other things he grows).
Organic Berries & Tomatoes at Por Bar Farms
Por Bar Farms
11136 Holshoe Rd.
Homerville, Ohio 44235
contact: Kevin & amy Leamer
Next stop: Morning Side Farm, a lovely, bustling stand full of vibrantly colored produce so beautiful I couldn’t resist the chance to capture nearly all of it in photos. The owners were friendly and busy talking with customers about every type of produce for sale, answering questions and providing knowledge about what to do with things like the beets or kale.
Purple and Green Okra from Morning Side Farm
Organic Carrots from Morning Side Farm
1075 State road
Hinckley, Ohio 44233
Garth Proctor, Professional Cutlery Sharpener
Garth Proctor is one of the individuals that comes to market twice a month, sharpening tools in tow (those are must-see in and of themselves), ready to bring back to life things like kitchen knives, food processor blades, kitchen or sewing shears. And if you ask just about anything related to purchasing, caring for and maintaining your kitchen tools, Garth is the person to ask. He went to school for this. Yes, there is a school for this (only four world-wide), the art of professional cutlery sharpening, something that is now somewhat of a lost art.
Stop by and meet him- he’s more than happy to share what he knows. If you can’t get to Cleveland to meet him, check out his really informative website.
Garth Proctor (the man who ‘likes to sharpen things’)
Here’s where & when you can find him in person:
Tremont Farmers Market: Tuesdays, 4pm-7pm
Lakewood Farmers Market– Wednesdays, 10am-1pm
Kamm’s Corner Farmers Market– Sundays 10am-2pm
Crocker Park Farmers Market– Saturdays 9am-1pm
Homemade PIEROGIES & 100% APPLE CIDER
I haven’t had pierogies in a very long time, so as the wonderful aroma of fried onions wafted through the fall air begging me to try one of their unique flavor combinations, I concluded I’d probably never see a yam & walnut flavored pierogie again, or at least not for a long time. The vendors over at Posh Pierogies were cooking out on an open grill, so we tried a few- 3 for $5, as an appetizer before dinner.
Delicious and unique, these homemade pierogies are worth every bite:
Posh Pierogies 330.608.0683
To drink, we were spoiled with some of the freshest, best-tasting apple cider I’ve had in years. Talk about memory lane. The last time I tasted apple cider so good was as a kid on a hayride during the fall months somewhere in the farmlands of my Ohio childhood. Now, I can’t help but think of the amazing health benefits of this drink, as well as the economic benefits to the local farmers this provided. In support of today’s local farmers, I absolutely recommend the apples and apple cider from the humble folks over at Woolf Farms, which you can find at local northeast Ohio farmers markets or by contacting them. You can also click on the link to find a complete listing of their vending locations.
Woolf Farms 330.525.5128
It does take a bit of research time to find sources of local produce and even artisanal services, which is why seeking out farmers’ markets is a great way to efficiently shop- everyone is congregated in one area for your convenience and theirs. I did this when coming to Ohio, but you can do it anywhere you visit or travel. Alhamdullilah, these days farmers’ markets are popping up all over the place.
Not feeling it’s worth your time or money? Trust me when I tell you that the flavors of the food, the people you meet and the overall experience of getting out into fresh air to eat healthy, real food, is something you’ll want to experience everywhere you go. Insha’allah.