Saturday, April 26, 2014

What Grows Around Comes Around

Folsom & Pine Farm

The year was 1962. JFK was President, the average income was less than $6,000 a year, a loaf a bread set you back 20¢, the great Johnny Carson began his run as host of The Tonight Show, kids were twisting to Chubby Checker’s chart topping hit, and production of my mother-in-law’s first car, the Triumph Spitfire, started in England. Amongst it all, Gene and Norma Ehmann purchased a modest 60 acres of land in Central Ohio, and despite the known obstacles, became farmers. They began building a business that not only supported their children, but helped foster a community of people. Little did they know that over fifty years after starting their family farm, Ehmann and Sons, their grandson would follow in their footsteps on the same soil they still call home.

In the 1960s, American farms bore the burden of excessive operating costs, while the prices of crops continued to plummet. As many farmers were struggling to make ends meet, the Ehmann’s chose to foster a land rich with a variety of edibles in order to diversify. They sold the fruits of their labor straight to their consumers as well as to the popular super markets of the area - A&P and Super Duper. They listened to those that lived within their community, and were always adapting to the demands of their extended friends and family. When asked for starter plants, they built a small stand and start selling their popular tomato starts directly to their customers. The mid-70s introduced tax breaks for big agriculture which made it difficult for small family farms like Gene and Norma’s to compete, but they didn’t give up. Intuitively recognizing that customers were spending more of their hard earned money on landscaping their residences, they began building greenhouses to shelter a new business sector, selling a mix of edibles and bedding plants until eventually the big box stores nibbled away at their family business, and in 2013 there was no choice but to close their doors. Determined that the shutdown of his family’s business was not going to be permanent, one of the Ehmann’s grandsons reopened the doors less than a year ago today.

At Folsom & Pine Farm I was introduced to the next generation of owners Jeremy Priwer and Lori Fry. Jeremy explained how when he learned of the hardships of his grandparent’s farm, he sat down with his business partner Lori to figure out how to save their legacy. Both passionate about food, their plan was to take the over 90,000 sq ft of greenhouse space and focus on producing a vast variety of edibles, while still offering a selection of annual bedding plants. The advantage of utilizing the existing 27 structures meant Jeremy and Lori could offer produce all year long; a concept that has already appealed to various chefs around Central Ohio. In fact, their hope is to offer chefs quality ingredients on a consistent basis, and maybe even kick off some new trends with new varieties of edibles not currently grown in Central Ohio. During my visit, I toured the #7 greenhouse, where 95% of their plants start from seed, and it was bursting with life. This year Jeremy and Lori plan on offering over 47 varieties of tomatoes, 35 types of peppers, micro greens, numerous herbs, lots of fresh vegetables, and plenty of annuals.

Today, Folsom & Pine is a young business with a promising future. Although a portion of their property contains a brick and mortar space, they are not interested in being known as a typical garden center. It is important to Jeremy and Lori to keep their community engaged and educated about where their food comes from. With plans that include, but are not limited to; educational gardens, hosting events such as farm-to-table dinners, and offering cooking and canning classes, Folsom & Pine will stand out from the crowd with such enticing offerings. Besides visiting their location just southwest of Columbus, you can find their produce at the Clintonville and Worthington farmers markets, Celebrate Local at Easton, The Hills Market in Worthington as well as numerous restaurants around Columbus including The Sycamore, Harvest Pizzeria, Harvest Kitchen + Bar, Ella Restaurant + Bar, Spagio, and some of the Columbus Food League establishments. Folsom & Pine may have a new name and new offering of delicious and nutritious edibles, but the old principles of Gene and Norma are still visible; creating a sense of community and bringing people together through food. There is something about taking a trip into the past that makes you appreciate the present.

Micro Greens

The Folsom & Pine Micro Greens (pictured left) traveled 15 miles to Columbus, while it is unknown where the micro greens pictured right were grown, they traveled 2,226 miles to Columbus from a processing center in Monrovia, California.


Farm Bureau: Historical Highlights, 1919 – 1994

Micro Greens & Beans

This recipe is a twist on traditional Italian greens and beans using Folsom & Pine Spicy Mix Micro Greens.

Click on the recipe cards to print your copy:

1 Comment:

celebrate local said...

Wonderful Wonderful article, Nicole!!!!! :-) Thanks so much for writing about one of our CL Family! ( Heidi)

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