Every August, members of Congress spend time back in their districts. This is a great time for them to connect with their constituents, support local businesses, and be in their community. Between August and October, we had four in-district meetings with legislators directly, or their local staff. We are so grateful for all our member leaders who helped put these together, participated in the visits, and shared their stories.
Our Midwest state has a lot to offer regarding agriculture and food markets. All are unique and important for creating a food safety net that is sustainable for generations to come.
Below you will find a synopsis of each of our in-district visits, and some quotes from participants.
August 12: Senator Sherrod Brown’s Local Staff and State Senator Bill DeMora at Clintonville Farmers’ Market
Common Greens works with regional farmers and food producers to get their products to Central Ohio communities. They have three markets in the area, including Bexley, Upper Arlington, and Clintonville. This organization is led by Executive Director Marcie Todd. She has over 10 years of experience in local food systems, advocacy, and production. Marcie worked with us to get this visit planned and it was the first of its kind.
“Working with OEFFA for this experience was quite incredible. I was so impressed with the level of detail, the time they made available to coach us through the event, and the ease with which they integrated the farmer’s experiences to policies supported or not yet supported by the political folks who attended. We could not be more thankful for their time and energy in this space.”Marcie Todd
Marcie has a lot of wisdom to share. She put together a great sequence of farmers and producers for these legislative offices to meet. We brought around Senator Sherrod Brown’s local staff person, Emma, and Senator DeMora to Chef Carrie, Foraged & Sown, L Marie Ltd., and McCarty’s Taste of Eden.
The farmers shared the importance of supporting the market to boost the local economy and get healthy food to urban communities. They highlighted the need for expanded access to local meat processing. The Produce Perks nutrition incentive program was also mentioned for its tremendous impact on vegetable farmers and SNAP recipients. Marcie would like to do more visits with local legislators and we can’t wait to be a part of it!
August 22: Local Staff for Senator Sherrod Brown and Representative Emilia Sykes at Purplebrown Farm Store
Sasha Miller and her family at Purplebrown Farmstead work hard to help feed their local community. This certified organic permaculture farm demonstrates how 12 acres can include a diversified fruit orchard, livestock production, perennial vegetables, and education for the community. In 2021 they opened Purplebrown Farm Store. Their products are offered along with food from more than 60 producers within 60 miles.
Staff from Senator Brown and Representative Sykes’ offices joined us at the farm store. There, they could see the vibrant diversity of foods produced in Northeast Ohio. Sasha is an extremely knowledgeable advocate who is involved as a farmer, local grocery owner, and chair of the board for a local non-profit focused on farmland preservation, Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy.
“It’s important to get involved with food policy, because through engagement we begin to understand how we can each make a positive impact and be an active part of the solution.”Sasha Miller
Sasha also spoke about the importance of investing in climate-smart agriculture and stimulating local food economies with the farm bill and other policy tools—and how all of us can benefit from this. As she shared in a blog she wrote for OEFFA, the farm bill can help strengthen our food systems with resources for beginning and organic farmers, climate-friendly agriculture programs, and so much more.
September 9: Representative Max Miller’s Local Staff at Mud Run Farm
Alex and Alexis Dragovich, father and daughter farmers at Mud Run Farm, run a completely organic operation of grains, vegetables, and eggs. They are continuously contemplating what to do next! This 30-acre farm creates some great cereal and milled flour that our staff enjoy here at OEFFA.
Alex and Alexis have varying farming journeys. Alex is a beginning farmer and Alexis turned away from the corporate world to come back home. At the visit, we welcomed Chase, a Field Representative from Rep. Miller’s office. He joined us as we chatted in the grain mill and rode around the farm on horses. Alex spoke about helping his neighbors in Northeast Ohio and wanting to feed his direct community. Something emphasized by Alexis was that the way they are processing food with their two stone mills is how it’s been done for thousands of years. This infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and invested in to enable more community and economic development.
Organic food, land access for beginning farmers, and equitable food access were all highlighted in this visit and are key priorities in our 2023 Farm Bill Platform.
October 15: Representative Greg Landsman at Hyde Park Farmers’ Market
Hyde Park Farmers’ Market (HPFM) in Hyde Park, Cincinnati is truly one of a kind. Each week this market brings over 2,000 residents together to partake in delicious regional food. This market lives its values. It only brings in vendors that steer clear of environmentally damaging practices and avoid using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, growth hormones, and antibiotics. Liz Stites, Hyde Park’s fearless leader and general manager, has each producer go through a vetting process to assess their growing, producing, and sourcing practices.
“At Hyde Park Farmers’ Market, we focus on bringing the freshest, most nutritious food to our community. And, in turn, our farmers and food artisans are able to support their own families and care for Mother Earth. We were grateful to share the afternoon with Congressman Landsman and have him hear about how farmers’ markets, like HPFM, feed our local communities.”Liz Stites
Our visit with Representative Greg Landsman was packed with conversations with a wide variety of vegetable, meat, and mushroom farmers. They included Christopher Farm, Walnut Ridge Acres, Rich Life Farm and Fungi, Farm Beach Bethel, and The Eaton Farm. In each conversation, HPFM farmers built upon each other to bring home the importance of this market for their livelihoods, as well as for the well-being of the patron community. Throughout our visit with the Congressman, we emphasized that the 2023 Farm Bill can provide needed investments to financially support Hyde Park Farmers’ Market, meat processing for folks like Walnut Ridge Acres, and more equitable food access through supporting markets to accept SNAP.
Connect With Your Members of Congress
We hope this inspires you to engage with your legislators! We can make a deeper impact by getting more Congresspeople out to farms and markets. If you are a local farmer or food producer and would like to connect with your member of Congress about your needs, we are here to help!
Check out the resources on our Take Action page for help with connecting with a legislator through phone, email/comments, or social media. Our Legislator Lookup can help you find the contact information for your members of the U.S. House and Senate. Reach out to email@example.com for additional support!