The Appalachian Table: Where Local Food Producers and Buyers Came Together

By Christie Welch
Direct Agriculture Marketing Specialist

Local food producers and buyers had the opportunity to come together to network, learn from each other, and make connections – all in the name of helping citizens through increased access to Ohio produced foods.  

Beginning with a locally sourced breakfast consisting of sausage, bacon, eggs, milk, yogurt, granola, coffee, and baked goods, The Appalachian Table helped to raise awareness among producers and buyers about the diversity of local foods produced in the region, and the diversity of opportunities to sell to various markets.

Leslie Schaller, a founding member of Casa Nueva, shared experiences about sourcing local foods for her restaurant and value-added line. Highlighted were some of the logistical challenges of sourcing locally produced foods, accessing the ability to process those items, and then store them for year-round use in the restaurant.  Casa Nueva is an Athens, Ohio based, worker-owned cooperative restaurant that sources as much locally produced food as possible.
Sandra Gross, co-owner, and Frances Kroner, Executive Chef of Sleep Bee Café, shared information about their restaurants and working with local food producers.

They source as much locally produced foods as possible and then create seasonally inspired meals that are served in their Cincinnati area cafés.  Local producers appreciated their willingness to share about their process and learned from the success they shared.

Attendees also heard from a panel of producers that currently sell their locally produced products via various market channels:  McDowell Farms selling to a regional grocer, Way Farms sells via a farm market and farmers markets, and Two Roasting Joes sells via farmers’ markets and specialty stores.  Attendees were able to ask these producers about the challenges and opportunities of the various market channels they currently use.  One participate said that, “learning firsthand what restaurants and wholesale customers want from producers and how they want to be contacted” was very beneficial.  

Participants also appreciated the knowledge of the many resources that are available to help them grow their businesses.  Collaborators for the program included the OSU Extension Direct Food and Agriculture Marketing Team, The CFAES Center for Cooperatives, The Minority Business Assistance Center, The OSU South Centers Business Development Network, and The Appalachian Center for Economic Network (AceNet).

If you would like additional information about direct marketing locally produced food and agricultural products, the OSUE Direct Agricultural Marketing Team would like to help.  You can visit our website at southcenters.osu.edu/marketing or email welch.183@osu.edu for more information.