Northeast Ohio has become somewhat of an epicenter of the local foods movement in the United States. From innovative urban agricultural zoning in Youngstown and Cleveland, to recognition of its historic and independent open markets (e.g. West Side Market in Cleveland), to entrepreneurial efforts to integrate local farming and markets in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, to future planning to increase local food growth, retailing, marketing and processing, the region has set an example for other areas of the Midwest and the nation to follow. The case for local food has been made by many organizations, citing how local food means:
- Better quality: Fresher, picked at the peak of flavor, and it loses fewer nutrients in transport.
- Better for the environment: Uses fewer fossil fuels in transportation, fewer chemicals for farming and promotes biological diversity.
- Better for the economy: Invest in local business, and they’ll invest locally, too. And eating seasonally means food is less expensive, putting money back into your pocket.
- Better for the community: Get to know who grows your food, and share ideas for growing and cooking with fellow local-foods lovers!
Local Roots Market and Café (and soon to also be Kitchen Incubator) has become a wonderful example of the evolution of the local food movement in Northeast Ohio. The concept began to emerge in Wooster (Wayne County) in February 2009 when people who were interested in
helping to make local food more accessible began to connect with one another and brainstorm how this could be best be accomplished. Meetings were held weekly to plan the development of what would become the Wooster Local Foods Cooperative, eventually doing business as Local Roots Market and Cafe.
On Jan 30, 2010, almost exactly 1 year from those first meetings, the Local Roots Market & Café officially opened for business. According to their website, the market has grown from being open only Saturday to six days a week. In October 2010, funds received from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) were put towards the completion of a small, but commercially licensed kitchen facility. This was completed in June 2011. In July 2011, Local Roots received notification of a grant from Rural Development/USDA for $99,500 to complete the full commercial kitchen facility. The kitchen will allow producers to further process and preserve products for sale in the market. The April/May 2013 Newsletter, “Roots Cellar,” announced the installation of a 14’x10’ freezer by a volunteer group known as “The Kitchen Crew.” The Crew also completed the plumbing trenches with help from College of Wooster and Ashland University students.
For more information about Local Roots Market & Café, please email info@LocalRootsWooster.com. The Market is located at 140 South Walnut Street in Wooster.
Local Roots Steering Committee Members from left to right: John Drouhard (Electrician, WCSEN), Keith Speirs (Architect, WCSEN), Dave Benchoff (OEFFA Board Member, Farmer), Jen Hugon (Graphic Artist), Jennifer McMullen (Writer), Marlene Barkheimer (Bank President), Jessica (Barkheimer) Eikleberry (Business/Computer Systems), John Anderson (Poultry Researcher – OARDC), Monica Bongue (OEFFA Member, PhD Biochemistry, Farmer), Betsy Anderson (Entomologist – OARDC, Former Professional Baker), Bill Boyer (HS Teacher, Gardener), Marlene Boyer (Family & Consumer Sciences HS Teacher)
 Masi, B., Schaller, L., and Shuman, M. (2010). The 25% Shift: The benefits of food localization for Northeast Ohio and how to realize them. Cleveland, OH and Silver Spring, MD: Cleveland Foundation, ParkWorks, Kent State University Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, Neighborhood Progress Inc., Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition.