food

Hamid Ahmed's biodome project occupies a small space at Mezzacello (photo courtesy of Mezzacello).

Future farm

A stroll through this Ohio farm leads you past a lovely formal garden, a koi pond, and two fountains before you reach the medicinal, culinary, and potager gardens.

Ten years ago, the property was an abandoned 1868 Italianate house and two adjacent overgrown lots. After much planning, digging, and planting, Mezzacello now produces high-quality, nutritious food and serves as a learning lab where Bruner and local students test ideas. The name Mezzacello (“little Monticello”) pays homage to another lifelong innovator: Thomas Jefferson, and his agricultural experiments at his iconic Virginia estate.

Young's Jersey Dairy

Cold and creamy

It's no surprise that Ohio ranks in the top 10 of ice cream-producing states. Its rural heritage provides a steady supply of the main ingredient — and several families through history began traditions that remain in place today.

Velvet Ice Cream

Utica, 1914

Immigrant Joseph Dager arrived in Ohio in 1903 and began making ice cream in Utica in 1914. Within two years, he was producing 200 gallons of ice cream every month, and the creamy, velvety texture inspired the name Velvet Ice Cream.

In 1960, an old grist mill became the company’s permanent home. Ye Olde Mill houses a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor that opened in 1970 and welcomes 150,000 guests each year.

Pork loin

Caterer on wheels

When Dan and Tawni Batdorf hit the road to their latest catering job, they bring a spacious kitchen with all the conveniences of home right along with them.

The Batdorfs started Red Barn Catering in 1998, working from the back of a pickup truck stacked with coolers, grills, and cooking utensils. One of their early engagements had them preparing 77 customer appreciation lunches for Ebberts Field Seeds, down the road from their Miami County farm. They still work that lunch, but today, the number of lunches they produce for the annual event has grown to about 630.

“We definitely needed something more than a pickup truck bed,” Tawni Batdorf says with a chuckle. “We needed a place out of the rain and the sun and a place to wash dishes.”

J.M. Smucker Company’s headquarters in Orrville, OH

With a name like...

Whenever merchandise manager Kate Fox welcomes tour bus groups to the J.M. Smucker Co. store and café, she asks visitors to guess Smucker’s first product. “Everyone always answers, ‘strawberry preserves,’” says Fox, “but the company actually started with apple butter.” 

Located near U.S. 30, the store sits along a rural road in Wayne County just minutes away from the J.M. Smucker Company’s headquarters in Orrville. The town’s population is less than 10,000, yet it’s home to a Fortune 500 corporation with some 7,000 employees who work in offices and manufacturing facilities spread from Quebec to California. Why Orrville? In 1897, local farmer Jerome Monroe Smucker opened a cider mill there and began making apple butter from concentrated cider.

Fresh bread

Crushing it

Chris Bihn is a born educator, and while he may have left the classroom, he’s more committed than ever to teaching. These days, his lesson plans involve the production of nutrient-rich and easily digestible food through an innovative process of crushing grain.

Bihn, a former high school teacher and a member of St. Marys-based Midwest Electric, heads a family business known as Our Fathers Food, which uses a patented technique for preparing organic grain and seed for human consumption that yields unlimited shelf life without chemicals, preservatives, enrichments, or nutrient loss.

A girl takes a picture of someone next to a pawpaw mascot.-

The pawpaw king

Chilled, it was President George Washington’s favorite dessert. Today, rural folk throughout the eastern U.S. hunt this delectable wild fruit each fall, keeping their favorite pawpaw patch as secret as they would their best spring morel mushroom woods.

Chris Chmiel first became interested in pawpaws while in college at Ohio University. “I like to hike, and I began noticing pawpaws on the ground in the woods, just rotting, going to waste,” he says.