Helping to make local foods once again a viable choice…
Years ago, all food was local right? What happened? Well…at a glance…cars and sprawl, and small farms became bigger farms, and years flew by with convenience trumping health. Today we are in the throws of an obesity epidemic with most of our food travelling more miles than we do. According to the Centers for Disease Control, children today are from the first generation that are not expected to live as long as their parents. How can our lifepan be getting shorter??? We eat but what exactly are we eating? While this discussion is much larger than the time we have, let’s look at one solution…Connecting local growers to local eaters! Won’t you connect with us?

Our History:
Champaign County, Ohio is home to real agriculture. Rolling hills and plains share some of the most fertile soil in the Midwest. From potatoes to raspberries, corn to beans, and shrimp to buffalo, we have a diverse heritage that marries large and small-scale agriculture. Agriculture is our number one export but are we eating, well, healthy? We have been successfully “growing” our farmers’ markets for many years, even winning the Best Small Farmer’s Market in 2010 for our Champaign County Farmers’ Market as awarded by the American Farmland Trust. Combining that also in 2010 with our county seat of Urbana being awarded “Best Hometown” by Ohio Magazine and this is one cool place to live! So comes the transition to the next step in agriculture…the virtual market…first in the state of Ohio as we know it. We look forward to uplifting our producers and connecting even more customers to healthy, locally grown and produced items! Won’t you grow with us? Stop back often and see our expansion.

Started with a grant from Activate Champaign County and the Champaign Family YMCA from the YMCA of the USA, the virtual farmers’ market is becoming a reality. Known as Pioneering Healthier Communities, the YMCA is instrumental in working towards getting our communities healthier by facilitating increased physical activity and healthier eating. Discussed for the last few years with the Local Foods council and other community groups, we are pleased to be opening the market in the spring of 2012. We invite local growers and producers who believe that shopping local is vital to the local economy and eating healthy, locally-sourced, nutrient-dense food is vital to our, well, personal health.

Our Mission:
The mission of the market is to provide increased sales opportunities for local producers and consumers while keeping sales dollars in the local economy. “Local” is loosely defined as derived from Champaign County and the surrounding area. Preference will be given to vendors from within the county but items not currently available from within the county will also be welcome. Limitations will be discussed on a case by case basis and as needed. Preference will also be given to sustainably raised items but conventional growers are welcome as well.

Why support Locally Grown?

Enhance the local economy: By purchasing produce and other items from local growers you are providing stability to your local economy through the support of local businesses.

Save Natural Resources: Buying locally makes you an invaluable link in the process of saving resources such as fossil fuels and packaging materials. Also, we are right here in your community so the expense of transportation and delivery is kept to a minimum.

Provide Learning Opportunities: Locally Grown supporters provide member growers the means to help educate our community about the importance of sustainable agriculture.

Supporting a Way of Life: The number of small farms in the United States has decreased dramatically in the last decade. Please help us preserve an honest and worthy means of making a living.

Health and Wellness: We can do more to eat better and move more. That is the golden ticket to a balanced and healthy body. Healthy, nutrient-dense food is food that is fresh and recently picked at the peak of ripeness…not the peak of when it was needed to travel to make it onto a store shelf. We know we are the only one responsible for our own health. What we put in is fuel for our system. Our system, otherwise known as our body, needs us to feed it and take care of it. Sustainable eating is a part of the overall solution to being healthy. We believe that diverse, family-owned farms contribute to society’s overall health.

Membership Fees
To provide farm tours, educational programs, and to help us with our overhead costs, we will enact a membership fee to cover the costs of hosting the market in future years as most markets do in the family of LocallyGrown markets. For now however, we will operate with no expenses to the customer as the operational fees will be covered by the grant received from the Champaign Family YMCA.

Ordering Options
Unlike other co-ops, buying clubs, or CSAs where everyone gets the same box of stuff (and you don’t know what you’re getting until you get it), with Locally Grown you get to order what you want, in the quantities that you want, from the farms that you want. The weekly email lists the produce, milled products, fresh flowers, and artisan goods available that week, and you can browse the items on this website before you place your order.

Other Important Items
Placing Orders
Each Thursday evening following the market pickup, the market will reopen (previously this was Sunday evening but we thought, why wait?) and a list of available products is sent to everyone with an account here by e-mail. Customers must place their order for the week any time after that email goes out, but no later than Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. Orders are placed here on our website.

Growers receive notification of their orders Tuesday night and harvest on Wednesday and Thursday.

Picking Up Orders
From 4:30 until 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, families can pick-up their produce at the Champaign Family YMCA, 191 Community Drive, Urbana, OH, in the lobby of the Y, located near State Route 36 on the East side of Urbana. Please make sure you remember to pick up your order. Once confirmed, you are financially responsible for payment of your order whether you pick it up or not. We will make an attempt to remind you 30 minutes prior to market closure on Thursday evening but we are not able to store your items. Please be a responsible shopper to keep costs of operating this market as low as possible. Items left at the market will be donated if we are not able to reach you.

Gift Certificates are available! If you would like to purchase a gift of health and flavor, please consider a Locally Grown gift certificate. You can decide the amount and the lucky recipient can purchase locally grown produce!

Please contact Pam Bowshier at cosmiccharliebread@yahoo.com with any questions.

Cooperation on the Food Front:
A final word about our partners and those who believe that shopping for fresh local food makes a difference. There are many people behind the scenes who have been instrumental with the creation of this market. Although overseen by Activate Champaign County, a local group facilitated by the Champaign Family YMCA, we have many partners and private folks who work diligently to bring these kind of community offerings to scale. I’ll start with the partners of Activate Champaign County such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Local Foods Group, the Master Gardeners, the County Commission, the Champaign County Farmers’ Market, OSU Extension, the Champaign Health District, the Community Improvement Corporation, the City of Urbana, Mechanicsburg Farmers’ Market, and the Second Harvest Food Bank among many others. Private businesses are involved too such as Joe and Charlene Stapleton of Swisher Hill Herbs, Gary Schenkel from Schenkel Communications, Pam Bowshier of Cosmic Charlie Breads, Lonny LeFever with Lonny’s Green Acres, Heather Tiefenthaler with Community Car and Pet Wash and Mike Pullins from the Champaign Berry Farm to name a few. From supporting it from afar to subscribing to more than monthly meetings, there is much cooperation on the food front from these groups and their leaders. We know that access to healthy food is part of the solution to combat our obesity epidemic along with infrastructure that supports physical activity. While I hope I didn’t leave someone out, we have many in Champaign County that work hard to making local foods a viable choice.

See you at the market!