Central Ohio’s Agricultural Queen
by Susan Post
Jaime Moore was raised in rural Ohio, where farmers’ markets and buying local were a way of life. Almost everything came from nearby farms and the grocery store was used only for a few other essentials. Canning was a family affair, and her earliest memories are of days spent in the kitchen with her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
She eventually moved to Columbus to attend The Ohio State University, and describes that transition as a culture shock. “I’d never bought vegetables from a grocery store before!” she says. In an attempt to implement in her new Columbus surroundings with that which was familiar to her growing up, Moore’s first venture into local agriculture started in 2006 with half an acre.
While still attending school she co-founded Wayward Seed Farm with a friend, Adam Welly. Their small plot provided a pipeline of certified organic fruits and vegetables to Central Ohio restaurants and chefs, which Moore and Welly were inspired to target after their own dining adventures while traveling. They quickly found that solely providing to restaurants was not a sustainable business model, and so Wayward Seed Farm started offering their fresh produce at local farmers’ markets.
When a fellow farmer introduced the idea of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), the farm blossomed. “We’ve gone through changes, made hard and easy decisions, but always responded to our customers,” Moore says. “Now our CSA is the anchor.” The Wayward Seed Farm CSA program offers a subscription for fresh fruits and vegetables that customers pick up weekly during the summer months. Wayward Seed has become a twenty-three and a half acre plot in Marysville, and the CSA provides produce to over 200 families per week.
Moore strives to make sure customers can take full advantage of every product they receive by including weekly recipes and storage tips. She also likes to incorporate vegetables people normally don’t seek out, such as kohlrabi, beets, turnips and calcot. Adding unusual foods and new recipes helps support Wayward Seed Farm’s mission of providing a creative way to get people involved in cooking while connecting them to their food sources. “We are a farm for people who want to get in the kitchen, learn more and embrace local,” she says. “We hope to excite people with a simple veggie that’s grown 20-30 minutes away.”
Moore’s work with Wayward Seed sowed a clear path to her involvement in the farmers’ markets. As the farm expanded, they needed a good mid-week option for selling their produce. In 2009, that need gave rise to the Dublin Farmers’ Market. Moore describes its creation as a true community effort. Next, after two years of experience in Dublin under her belt, a friend approached her to help revive the Bexley Farmers’ Market, which had languished at its then Saturday time slot. A concerted effort of local love from Moore and over forty volunteers shepherded a successful transition to the current Thursday evening slot. Finally, when a position with the year-round Worthington Farmers’ Market became available, Moore seized on the opportunity to bring yet another local area together through food.
To Moore, the importance of Farmers’ Markets is three-fold; they provide health, economic and social benefits. Produce is harvested closer to consumption, providing more nutrients and thereby more health benefits. Economic advantages are clear as well. Money is kept in and circulated throughout the community; not only at the market, but businesses near the location see an increase in activity. With her love of creating a sense of community and connection, the social benefits excite Moore. “Every time I overhear someone say, ‘I haven’t seen you in a month! It’s so good to see you.’ It’s all about reconnection,” she says. “For some people, this is their social time for the week.”
With a pulse on the agricultural and farmers’ market scenes in Central Ohio, it’s no wonder that Moore was asked to take part in a special statewide task force, sponsored by First Lady Karen Kasich, which picks the recipients of the Ohio Agriculture Women of the Year awards. “The awards recognize a woman’s impact on agriculture,” Moore says. “You don’t have to have your hands in the ground or be a dairy farmer to receive it.” In addition to the women who work specifically in the agriculture field, the award is open to women who are teachers and advocates for the greater agricultural community.
From growing up learning to drive in the peach orchards, to running three successful farmers’ markets along with a farm of her own, agriculture has always been a part of Moore’s life. Her passion for it is abundantly clear, and her love for it has only grown exponentially over time. Saying she wouldn’t change it for anything, Moore will continue to bring communities together through her extensive involvements with local food production and distribution.
Location: 14950 Fladt Rd., Marysville. For more information, call 937-644-0786 or visit WaywardSeed.com. Also visit DublinFarmersMarket.com, BexleyFarmersMarket.com and WorthingtonFarmersMarket.BlogSpot.com.
Susan Post is a freelance writer and editor based in Columbus. She enjoys writing about her city, and the people and places that make it special. Contact her at Susan.Post.email@example.com.