Submitted by jerleen1 on Mon, 08/16/2010 - 11:33.

Tremont farmer charges TWDC for selectively excluding him
from neighborhood marketing opportunities

by Jerleen Justus

(Plain Press, August 2010) When the Tremont Farmers Market (TFM) opened for the 2010 season Hooper's Farm was not among the listed vendors. Erich Hooper, the Farm's owner, says he did not fill out this year's application due to difficulties he encountered with the market management during the 2009 market exhibitions.

Even though he has participated in the Tremont West Development Corp. (TWDC) sponsored farmer's market since the beginning, Hooper feels he is being selectively excluded and "blackballed" from peddling his locally grown produce at the neighborhood fresh food stands. The long-time Tremonter states that, "when the market was started in 2006-2007 on a vacant lot by Starkweather and Professor, we were just a bunch of scraggly people who brought whatever we had to sell, set up the best we could and if anybody made fifty dollars it was good. They used us to make a name for themselves and now, I'm the one left out," continued Hooper.


Hooper states that at the beginning of the 2009 season, Market Manager Jody Lathwell began demanding that he purchase insurance required by the management and TWDC. He further states that in making rounds and discussing this matter with other vendors he learned that out of the entire group of approximately 22, only three of them actually carried the required policies.

Erich recalls a number of unfounded accusations made by Lathwell. On one occasion, after enlisting the help of Guy Templeton Black in re-bagging a loaf of bread due to bag sweating, Hooper says Jody Lathwell confronted him. She said he could not sell commercial items. Erich says he was not only targeted for selling his homemade bread but for giving away food samples as well. He alleges that there are a number of merchants who sell produce and other chattels that were either grown by outsiders or purchased from other places.

The Tremont Farmers Market 2010 Vendors Information and Application Guidelines state: "This is a Producers Market, meaning that what is sold at the market is grown or produced by the seller, with a few exceptions as needed and determined by the Market Committee."

Erich states that he was never made aware of any committee or the identity of its members. Being that he was one of the original members that formed the Tremont Farmers Market, Erich believes that setting up a committee is something he and other market participants should have been informed about.

Erich Hooper says he cannot afford the high cost of insurance required by TWDC and market management. The Ohio Department of Agriculture does mandate that perishable and hazardous food vendors carry a certain amount of insurance. "I have a peddlers license and my food permits and that's all I need," states Hooper. "If I didn't carry the proper credentials the Health and Fire Inspectors would shut me down."

Hooper says that Lathwell even nagged him about turning over copies of his documents. Hooper further states, "In addition to having all my papers, Hooper's Farm is well known and accepted everywhere else including other markets in the City of Cleveland and neighboring cities where I sell my his fresh nutriments and conduct nutritional food demonstrations. I fit in everywhere else and can't get into my own damn neighborhood festivals."

In a three-page narrative issued by Tremont Farmers Market Manager Jody Lathwell, she states that Erich Hooper has been problematic since she accepted the managing position in May 2008. She provides in detail how she tolerated rumors about Erich's bad mouthing and maligning her not only with other marketers but also on market blogs. However, in searching the Farmers Market Website, no such entries were found.

In her statement she says, ".... once the market opened, he started soliciting the 2009 TFM vendors in what seemed to be an attempt to rally them against me." Some of the other issues mentioned in Lathwell's electronic communication are Erich's seemingly disregard for following market rules, arriving late, missed market dates and parking his vehicle in the market area at the Starkweather location.

Inasmuch as Lathwell's particulars seem to be based solely on hearsay, gossip and opinions, it is Erich's experience and conviction that TWDC and the Market's Management displays strong partiality in favor of other hucksters resulting in his being forced out.

Hooper does admit that some of the allegations could be made to fit certain situations and he did indeed park his van close to his stand on Starkweather. “There was nowhere else to park," says Erich. "But while she's pointing a finger at me, drive up by Lincoln Park every Tuesday on market day and you not only see vehicles pulled right up on the park grounds but you see trucks parked going the wrong way, double-parking and creating totally unsafe conditions for other drivers and people trying to cross the street."

In Erich Hooper's eyes, he is being discriminated against by TWDC. He sees TWDC as preventing him from taking part in community fundraiser affairs designed to benefit TWDC, business owners and other residents. On one occasion, Erich set up his food stand during the Verb Ballet event held in Lincoln Park and was encountered by event organizer Amy Pappas advising him he was not authorized and would have to leave. When he refused, security was called and upon producing his papers, he was permitted to continue selling his food fare.

The Tremont farmer was recently dealt another financial blow when he missed the April deadline for securing a stall at the Taste of Tremont. Erich continued to hustle working extra hours to come up with the costly $350 entry fee. It was his hope that considering the economy, the cost of licenses and permits that the TWDC community organization, which benefits from the high-end registration fee, would reconsider. Erich Hooper says he was refused, even though in the first week of June, he learned that Event Organizer Amy Pappas had made an offer to accept a late payment from another resident.

At the June TWDC Safety Committee, Hooper listened in on a discussion that transpired between certain board members about the necessity of providing a booth for Pastor Kervin Melendiz of the Spanish Pentecostal Church of God. Erich stated that he did overhear Board Member Henry Senyak's statement, "that if consideration was given to one person or group after the deadline, we must consider Erich Hooper too."

In a June 17th e-mail which went out to a number of interested parties, Senyak confirmed that over the last six months, Erich Hooper had approached him at several block club and public with regard to the discrimination by both the Tremont Farmers Market and the Taste of Tremont and that he was ask to personally investigate the situation.

TWDC Executive Director Chris Garland's e-mail statement issued on June 17, 2010 states, ".... He did not return the necessary payments or forms by the deadline. It is also worth noting that last year he had his staff walking around the festival selling food, which is not permitted, and the year before he set up on private property and was haggling people that were walking by."

In his reply to these allegations, Hooper says that he was not aware of the fourteen year old mingling about selling cotton candy until she was brought back to his stand. As far as haggling people, Erich says, "this is a haggling event, and I'm just a better haggler. I was calling out, "lip lickin' - face stickin' B-B-Q Ribs." Even though his booth, setup and supplies were completely on private property, he was forced by security to ante up $100 as a partial satisfaction.

TWDC Executive Director Chris Garland, Board President Chris Alvarado and Event Planner Amy Pappas continued to refuse Erich the privilege of participating in the 2010 Taste of Tremont stating there would be no exception or considerations given for the financially struggling member of the Tremont Community. Yet, on July 18, 2010, the day of the event, long lines were noted standing by the Spanish Pentecostal Church of God food stand at 913 College Avenue with kudos circulating the crowd that this was the best food for the best price. It was also apparent that others had also entered and set up well past the so-called deadline for Erich Hooper.

Editor’s Note: Jerleen Justus is a Tremont resident and co-chair of the Old South Side Community Coalition


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Erich Hooper follows his dream and creates an urban farm in Tremont
by Jerleen Justus

(Plain Press, August 2010) Erich Hooper has been a resident and member of the Tremont (Old South Side) Community since childhood. In 1968 his mother moved her young family across town in hopes of escaping the racial tensions taking place in the East Side Hough Avenue neighborhood.

As a sprightly lad, he attended Tremont Elementary School and went on to root for the "Wooverines" before graduating from the hallowed halls of Lincoln West High. After the Hall of Fame member received his diploma, he moved up for higher learning when he was accepted at Ohio State University. It was in those early college days that the young African-American contemplated teaching as a first choice career.

In the process of honing his intellectual skills, he realized that becoming a schoolteacher was not his first love. Buried somewhere in his subconscious was the reality that Erich Hooper wanted to be a farmer and he soon discovered he had a talent and a passion for cultivating the soil, planting seeds and growing healthy nutriments.

Erich's dreams of owning an 'urban farm' became a reality when, right next to Old Glory waving in the wind, he hung a rustic homemade red-lettered sign that reads "Hooper Farm - Established 1994." As changes came about and the number of attractions moving into the Tremont area grew, so did the display of colorful arrows above the farm gate. If you're in the vicinity of 2835 West 11th Street, and find yourself looking for Tremont Greenhouse, Lincoln Park, Tow Path Trail, Clark Field and Dog Park or the Christmas Story House, Hooper Farm points the way.

In recalling adolescent days of yore, the fifty-two year old father of two tells of a life altering experience he had with a directional arrow of a different sort. "When I was a kid, Dennis [Kucinich] caught me stealing apples out of his yard. He told me I had a choice of campaigning for him or going to jail. I didn't know what campaigning was, but I knew what jail meant. I thought I'd better campaign."

Erich stepped into the role as an urban farmer by enrolling in federal, state and local agricultural programs. He attended and received his Food Service Certification from the Ohio State University Extension Program as well as completed the Market Garden Training Class. Erich makes sure to stay current with urban garden and nutritional guidelines by enlisting and participating in programs, lectures, fairs and festivals offered by Ohio State, Cleveland State and Kent State Universities as well as the Levin College of Urban Affairs.

Farmer Hooper moves in the Farmers Market circuit by selling the fresh produce he grows in surrounding neighborhoods, cities and villages. Another facet to Erich Hooper is that he can hang up his hoe, step right out of his bibbed overhauls and into a crisp white chef's jacket, grab his pots and pans and be off to perform cooking demonstrations on short notice.

"I'm a chef, that's what I do. I have a Ukrainian dentist and we barter," he said flashing a Colgate Smile. "He does my teeth and I bake bread and cook for his office. I also baked forty or fifty loaves for the state wide Obama Campaign Volunteer Coordinator." Erich says that he acquired most of his skills through the "School of Hard Knocks," although he did admit he finely tuned his zest for making homemade bread by working at area bakeries.

While getting Hooper Farm up and running, Erich maintained employment in the food industry, which provided him the opportunity to acquire marketable food service training at some of the local establishments. "I trained at Stouffer's, Top of the Town, Pier W, Great Lakes and Five-Star Meats, to name a few. In my younger days, I worked for St. John Cantius, Emanuel Lutheran Church and at Murray Hill for Isabella at Bellflower. Currently I am associated and work with China Sea which is a C4 restaurant now involved with the pilot Food Cart Program," states Hooper.

Plaques, framed photos and certificates of achievements hanging in the business section of Hooper Farm display the history of Erich's studies and achievements. His portfolio is filled with letters and documents narrating his works and connections with Case Western Music Settlement Reserve, Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and Kent State Pop Up City events as well as a Hooper Farm feature section in the Kent State Pop Up City book. In 2008 the farm was bestowed a small grant by Neighborhood Connections, Inc., for the purchase of a greenhouse.

Over the years the urban gardener has conducted nutritious cooking demonstrations, displayed and sold his homegrown veggies throughout the City of Cleveland. Hooper Farm has been featured at the Hessler, Wade Park and Coventry Street Fairs, East Tech Institute and the City Fresh Program. The farm can be found listed in good standing with the Kamms Corner, Gordon Square and the Ohio State Farmers Market.

"I participated in the first Food Co-op Ingenuity, the first Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival, the Tremont Oral History Project and was one of the founders of the Tremont Farmers Market. I worked with five mayors and was the head cook for the City of Cleveland," states the farm owner, "and, I was featured on a segment of TV 20."

In his desire to give back to the neighborhood, Hooper says that he holds a neighborhood party twice a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Last fall he helped with putting on the Neighborhood Bridge Mix, which the Cleveland Foundation's Civic Innovation Lab supports.

Even though he gave up on a teaching degree, during summer months, instructor Erich can be found holding out-door lectures and coaching youth groups on the elements of sustainable gardens. Seated on the ground you can find groups from St. Ignatius High School, Gilmore Academy and the Boy Scouts of America. Chef/Farmer Hooper has a long history of working with the Youth Opportunities Unlimited, which offers the largest summer jobs programs in the greater Cleveland area.

In his free time, Erich designs and crafts folk art. He makes rounds through the neighborhood collecting anything --from bottle caps and cork screws to thrown out flower pots, baskets and little boxes -- that has the potential of being recycled into a masterpiece. Hooper proudly displays one of his most recent art fancies -- the "Tow Path" walking stick that, with the aid of bottle caps, jingles when you walk. Clearly a match for the smiling farmer's personality - Erich has been described as a diamond in the rough and without a doubt an asset to the Tremont community.

More Reflections of CLASSISM in TREMONT

Thank you for bringing up the ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM of politics by these organizations and forcing the issues to be addressed by these places. The leadership needs to make a checklist and guidelines public and provide equality to all residents.... it's time to stop such practices that violate the citizens of our community who are trying to partake in the events... based on "personality conflicts," ideas of classism, and point blankly, personality conflicts. The all powerful leadership of these public not for profit agencies owe society at large the highest consideration, unwaivering equality, and unyielding respect for being the "QUOTAS" that drive their agency's funding.... and for being the residents who consistently remain dedicated to the citizens in their own community at large.

I salute Hooper for sharing this experience publicly.





Blackballed, Snowballed, Lowballed, Screwballed, Bigballed,,

Please click on each one........


Blackballed            Snowballed         Lowballed       Screwballed

Bigballed                Crackballed

i'll take Bigballed for 20...

with a dusting of crackballed - is this guy going back to teaching next week????

you should try to get Steven Colbert to do something with this footage!

I'll take screwballed for 50

and mix in a little $20 crack ball


Tom Bell is now best friends with the Councilman.  I want you to know that the Flying Monkey is the FIRST non-compliant business owner to come forward and step up to getting all of their permits - never mind how many years he operated without them.

I was at BOZA this morning and sat in on a hearing about a store on State Road that had too many signs posted on his storefront - he did not have permits to do this.  He was reamed a new orifice by the board stating that "the idea is to get the permits BEFORE you post the signs  and they denied his variance. 

They did not say that when it (I) brought up the fact that Flying Monkey owners have been providing live entertainment for years without a permit, used their off-street parking lot to build a patio, YEARS AGO.  Constructed the non-compliant patio (YEARS AGO) with a permit, etc., yet, they granted their permits/variances.

Of course, Sammy Catania walked in with 140 letters of support - there's not 140 houses in or around Thurman Alley, Professor and or Jefferson in close proximity to the Flying monkey.  wonder how many drunks were leaning on the stools when they signed one of those letters?




The West 11th Street Townhomes offer open, contemporary spaces overlooking Clark Field and the Cuyahoga Valley. Steps away from restaurants, art galleries and all of Tremont!

Priced from $179,900 - $199,900

New community that will include more than 25 new homes when fully constructed
Affordable new construction in the Tremont community, one of Cleveland’s most popular neighborhoods
Each unit offers a 1-2 car garage with additional parking
Two bedrooms, 1.5-2.5 baths
Beautiful, open great room containing sliding glass doors that lead to a spacious deck with views of the Industrial Valley
Virtually maintenance-free living
Rear patio and sunken living room on B units
Kitchen featuring maple cabinets
Excellent access to Clark Field, Lincoln Park and the restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops of Professor Avenue
The Towpath Trail is scheduled to be built just outside your door – it will run through Clark Field
A short drive to Steelyard Commons shopping center
Reduced rate financing
15 year, 100% tax abatement

//Jerry Griffon
West 11th Tremont ")); var icon = new GIcon(); icon.image = ""; icon.shadow = ""; icon.iconSize = new GSize(12, 20); icon.shadowSize = new GSize(22, 20); icon.iconAnchor = new GPoint(6, 20); icon.infoWindowAnchor = new GPoint(5, 1); var point = new GLatLng(41.476066589355469, -81.689254760742188); map.addOverlay(new GMarker(point, icon)); } } //]]>

CDCs as Market brokers

  I rode my bike down Clark to Lorain--from W.95 to West Blvd. the area is a ghost town.  This used to be an area of thriving shops and mom-and-pop operations.  Nothing there, now.  Which CDC lays claim to this area??

Sickening--there are no doubt a bunch of suburban brats running this operation--paid for with your tax dollar to bleed the neighborhood of all community.  In the midst of it all--Ruby's Garden. 

How long before the CDC decides it's not following their rules, too?