When I started Fresh Fork Market I was 21 years old – arrogant and fearless. The trials and tribulations of a startup business are quite humbling. That is why I am grateful for the mentorship of the numerous small farmers we work with.
One of the most enlightening pieces of advice I ever received was from one of our growers, Kay Vaughn in Hartville. Kay can be an ornery gentleman – sometimes on the edge of fired up. His life story is fascinating. Born a farmer, he spent a career as a high school chemistry teacher, followed by about every job in agriculture – fertilizer salesman, hog farmer, dairy farmer, crop farmer, and now he grows produce and wine grapes. He’s been a competitive ballroom dancer and a leader in his community. When he talks, you listen.
Kay once said to me, “You can have it good, fast and cheap. But only two of them. You pick.” You have to stop and think about it for a minute. It’s a lesson in economics for sure. If you want your food to be fast and cheap, it won’t be good. And unfortunately, that’s the direction of most of our food in America. If you want it good and fast, it won’t be cheap. And good and cheap, well, you have to grow it yourself.
At Fresh Fork our mission is to buy good food from local farmers and deliver it at peak freshness. The support of our members has created opportunities for small farmers interested in reaching a different market.
Over the past 10 years I’ve watched the sons of the Kempf Family in Middlefield
grow up and start selling to Fresh Fork. At first it was Emanuel, proceeded by Harvey, and now Reuben. I’ve watched Jonas Hershberger move to a new, bigger farm, where now his eldest of 11 children – Joe – helps with the produce operation. We pay our farmers a premium for their produce which has allowed our farmers to thrive.
As a member of Fresh Fork you are directly impacting the lives of farmers in your community and supporting the new generation of farmers that will feed Northeast Ohio in the future.