Archives for February 2012

The Return of Spring … You Can Almost Taste It!

The first crocus breaking through the earth is a beautiful sight. No doubt. But what spring-time “first” truly gets me excited?

That would have to be – and I’m certain I’m not alone – the first ice cream shop to reopen for the season.

Ahhhh ... a waffle cone in full bloom!

This year, in Champaign County, Ohio, that will be Dairy Corner, at 1472 E. U.S. 36, Urbana. The doors open at 11 a.m. this Saturday, February 18! Owners Bob and Robin Turner have added specialty hot dogs to the menu … and though maybe not Saturday, but by Monday, they’ll begin serving up a new variety of ice cream. (In addition, Dairy Corner is adding catering — a make your own sundae bar.)

Next to open will be the Urbana Dairy Queen at 1047 N. Main St. on the following Saturday,  February 25, and Climber Cone, at 801 Maimi St., Urbana, will open April 1.

If you know of other openings, please leave a comment.

Next up: Champaign Uncorked! will continue its recent food fixation, but will return to the subject of foods that are  locally grown.

Your Guide to Fresh, Locally Grown, Champaign Goodness

You know those directories on supermarket shopping carts that tell you where to find the mayonnaise? Pretty handy for the shopping impaired like me.

Now the Local Food Council of the Community Improvement Corporation of Champaign County (CIC) has gone one better. It’s come up with a directory — a brochure, actually — that’ll guide you all over Champaign County, Ohio, not just down the aisles of a grocery store, showing you where to find the freshest locally grown and made food products.

This brochure includes a county map and corresponding list of growers, vendors and farmers’ markets, with address, contact information, hours of operation and products … fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, meats (even bison), honey, dried flowers, garlic, herbs, dog treats, maple syrup, artisan breads, preserves, handmade soaps, lavender, bedding plants, vegetable plants…. And that’s not all. Click on the image at left to see for yourself  all the local food treasures that are out there to be discovered and savored.

So, from now on when it’s time to write out the shopping list, consult this brochure — not just the grocery flyers and coupons. Take full advantage of what Champaign County farmers have growing. Discover the advantages of buying and eating locally grown food that’s at the peak of freshness … better taste, improved nutrition, a stronger local economy, and more.

It’s been my pleasure to assist with this project through the CIC and Local Food Council. And many thanks to Lisa Williams of Type by Design, who designed the brochure.

Use it in good health.

Updates will be made periodically. Email corrections or additions for future editions to cic@ctcn.net.


A New Hybrid: Locally Grown Food Meets Online Shopping

Online shopping’s a breeze – like popping a prepackaged dinner in the microwave. The trouble is: Internet sales keep taking a bigger bite from local business’ plates. (Similar to how frozen dinners shortchange our health.)

However, in Champaign County, Ohio, a fresh new, locally grown approach to online shopping will soon dish out more money to our local economy.

The new virtual farmers' market will bring the convenience of online shopping to the realm of locally grown food, but there's still nothing like communing with neighbors, farmers and fresh produce at one of Champaign County's open air markets.

Offering products that may look out of place among the clothing, electronics, media and imported gewgaws typically packed into online shopping carts, the Champaign County Virtual Farmers’ Market will allow shoppers to click and pick tomatoes, other veggies, fruits, meats, and value-added food products like baked goods – all grown or made in and around Champaign County.

The virtual market is an idea germinated and cultivated by the Local Food Council of the Champaign County Community Improvement Corporation (CIC) and Activate Champaign County (ACC). And it’s being started with a Pioneering Healthy Communities grant obtained by the Champaign Family YMCA through the YMCA of the USA. (Sorry for the alphabet soup.)

Heather Tiefenthaler, a member of the CIC, Local Food Council and ACC, is preparing the virtual market for opening the first week of May (check back here for updates). She’s recruiting vendors to join the market. Vendors can register on the market’s website – www.champaignoh.locallygrown.net (click on “create an account” near the bottom of the “Our Vendors” page).

If you have questions, you may contact Heather at mctief@frontier.com. A market manager will be appointed soon.

Does this mean traditional farmers’ markets are being replaced?

Not at all!

Champaign County’s three farmers’ markets, in Urbana, Mechanicsburg and St. Paris, will reopen for the season in May.

The virtual market is simply a convenience for busy shoppers who can’t always get to the markets. It will make it possible for more people to discover and enjoy the just-picked freshness and good taste of locally grown food – food that hasn’t grown weary from hundreds of miles in a truck.

The virtual market promises great advantages, but nothing can replace the neighborly, community-building charm of a farmers’ market, where people renew acquaintances, catch up on news, meet the growers, and thump melons.

How will the virtual market work?

Beginning the week of May 6:

  • Participating vendors will post their available inventory on the market website each Sunday.
  • Customers who register on the site will be notified by email when the inventory is posted and they can begin shopping. They will have until 8 p.m. that Tuesday to place their orders at www.champaignoh.locallygrown.net.
  • The vendors will prepare the orders and bring them on Thursday to the Champaign Family YMCA, where customers will pick them up between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Payment is due at time of pickup.

Next up at Champaign Uncorked!: I’ll offer you a look at a new brochure published by the CIC, Local Food Council and their partners – a guide to where you can find locally grown and made food products throughout the county. And as we lead up to the new farm market season, I’ll whet your appetite by featuring some local growers and the fruits of their labor.

And please take a moment, if you will, to share with me what your favorite locally grown or made food product is.