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Attention Portage County Farmers

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If you’re a farmer, growing your product is only part of your business. Connecting your products with the people who want them is another crucial part. To aid in this endeavor, Portage County Regional Planning will host an informal meeting that aims to connect local farmers with potential buyers of their products. “It’s our hope to share with local farmers the types and amounts of product buyers need and want,” explained Regional Planning Director Todd Peetz. “Farming and agriculture are important to our county, both economically and for quality of life,” Peetz continued. “Successful farms help us all!”
Larry Marek, owner of Kohler Farm Market in Mantua, shared that while he’s fortunate to keep busy selling his fresh produce locally, the opportunity provided in the upcoming meeting is, “a good idea for someone without an established outlet for customers.”

Forging new connections between farmers and buyers will help support local agriculture while creating economic and health benefits throughout the county. The goal of the meeting is to make local farm products more widely available for residents, restaurants, grocery stores, and food service or wholesale buyers. The meeting will cover issues including food safety, product availability and quality assurance, as well. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 25th at 6 pm at the Maplewood Career Center on State Route 88 in Ravenna.

Andrew Rome, Market Manager for Haymaker Market in Kent, has seen market vendors start at his farm market and eventually expand their businesses from there. “The Haymaker Farmers’ market works with big farms and small businesses who are just starting at home,” Rome explained. “Our farmers do a great job and we want as many people as possible to enjoy their products!” Rome expressed satisfaction at seeing vendors grow their business beyond the Market. He shared several examples of vendors who have seen such expansion, including Rootstown Organic Farm, who sells garlic tonic at the Kent Natural Foods CoOp, Marissa Matthews’s cookies, which are sold at Scribbles Coffee Shop. In addition, Avant Gardens Farm and Mushroomery sells shiitake mushrooms to Erie St. Kitchen for their farm-to-table menu. “Opportunities exist for vendors to work together as well,” Rome explained. For example, Brimfield Bread Oven buys fresh flour grown and ground at Breakneck Acres in Ravenna, along with and other local seasonal fruits.

“Portage County has a vibrant local foods community where new businesses can connect and grow. It sounds like this meeting would be a great fit for our vendors,” Rome concluded. The Haymaker Market is Portage County’s oldest producer’s only farmers’ market, and is held in the winter months on Saturdays from 10am through 1pm at the United Methodist Church on East Main Street in Kent from November through April and under the Haymaker overpass in Kent from May though October.
For more information on the upcoming meeting, call the Portage County Regional Planning Commission at 330-297-3613 or email Todd Peetz at tpeetz@pcrpc.org

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Stacy Turner is a wife, mother, and contributing reporter who has lived in the Mantua/Hiram area for over a dozen years. After enjoying a career in marketing, where she spent her time writing on behalf of other people, she gets a kick out of writing under her own name. Mostly, she enjoys the opportunity to learn more about her community through the stories she covers.