TAKE ACTION: Support Organic & Local Food Champions... #1 is Basketeria in West Side Market

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 11/21/2004 - 20:26.

Processed and industry-grown food harm body
and Earth, and most supposedly fresh food travels over 1,500 miles to reach us,
at great harm to the environment. Enlightened NEO shoppers seek outlets for eco-friendly
food - ideally organic and locally grown. While our choices are limited, the
Champions below work untiringly to improve our lot. Support them, and help seed
sustainable developments in the food "industry" for a healthier
future for all. You can support the *winner* by shopping at the West Side
Market - their stand is in the short wing of the produce stand, by the flowers
- support all these champions, thank them, and spread the word!

*winner*Champion: Anita
& Tom Dunderman
– The Basketeria

Please consider Tom and Anita Dunderman as candidates for the Champions of
Sustainability Awards. Tom and Anita operate 'The Basketeria'
produce stand at Cleveland's West Side Market. From Spring through Fall, they
also sell produce at Coit Road Farmers Market
in East Cleveland.

Tom and Anita have taken
a revolutionary and radical approach to being produce vendors. Beginning in
January and February each year, they start to meet with area farmers who grow
for The Basketeria to review seed catalogues, planning for the coming harvest.
Four Amish farm families have been growing for Tom's customers, with hundreds
of acres in cultivation specifically for The Basketeria. Tom selects certain
varieties of squash, for instance, preferred by his Middle Eastern customers.
And for the Russian customers who shop at Coit Road Farmers Market, black
radishes and pickle cucumbers.

Tom and Anita want their customers to leave The Basketeria produce stand with
bags bulging with fresh vegetables, enough to feed the customers' families, and
having spent $10 or $15, maybe $20. Because they sell produce all year round,
Tom begins buying vegetables from outside our region as our growing season
comes to a close. He has an eye for organic, and will purchase organic
vegetables whenever they are available at good prices and good quality. Tom and
Anita could charge a premium price for these organic goods, but they choose to
pass the savings and value along to their customers. In their opinion, fresh
local and organic produce should be available to all.

Tom and Anita and their children often go out to the fields planted for
Basketeria customers and do the harvesting. Tom can usually tell his customers
where a vegetable was picked, and when — usually within 24 hours of being on
the stand. The farmers who grow for The Basketeria are guaranteed the sale of
the harvest, a benefit to the farmer.

While I describe Tom and Anita's approach to selling produce as radical and
revolutionary, Tom shrugs off the description. He says, "That's the only
way to do produce — sell local whenever it is in season. One definition of
radical is 'back to the root,' and Tom and Anita are taking produce vending
back to what it's all about, fresh seasonal vegetables from local farms. Their
method is revolutionary, in my opinion, because it could be followed by other
entrepreneurs and ultimately change how and when food comes to our tables. Tom
and Anita Dunderman are heroes of sustainability to me, and I am happy to share
their story.

Champion: Lynn Gregor – OSU
Extension/Community Gardening Program & City Fresh Program

Lynn works from the ground up, literally (not grass-roots but dirt-roots) to
develop and strengthen community gardens in Cleveland. Lynn works tirelessly,
often thanklessly and rather anonymously at times within a huge OSU Extension
hierarchy and deserves recognition.

Lynn works directly with
Cleveland’s neighborhoods with the gardeners to get them started in new gardens
and maintain existing gardens. These community gardens provide the gardeners
and their communities with a healthy local food supply, a neighborhood
gathering spot, a spiritual center for the gardeners and so much more.
Lynn and her husband David Hassler eloquently told the story of Cleveland’s
community gardeners in their book, A Place To Grow.

In addition to her community gardening work, Lynn is now leading a coalition
between OSU, NE
Ohio Foodshed Network
, Heifer Int’l. Cleveland Department of Health and
others in the building of an urban-based, community supported agriculture
program that will develop market gardens and community food centers to
distribute locally grown foods targeted for Cleveland neighborhoods. Lynn was
instrumental in securing funding for this new program through a highly
competitive three-year Community Food Security grant from the USDA.

Champion: Scott Gordon – Rosby’s Greenhouse
& Berry Farm

Scott could be the poster child of the sustainability movement. His energy,
creativity and constant good humor are an asset to our community in many ways.
He is pushing Rosby’s to think sustainably about its business model and its
role in the NE Ohio business and food communities. Scott is not afraid to float
new ideas in promoting the business and the foods they grow. He is an
innovator, searching for the most viable crops for NE Ohio markets…
raspberries, Cinderella pumpkins and even Cuyahoga Valley sunflowers! An interesting article on the growth side of food
best practice is found at IdeaStream

Champion: Phillip Nabors – Mustard Seed
Market & Café

Phil's long-term commitment to local farmers and producers is unparalleled. He
is dedicated to high quality, local produce and products. He is a true
innovator. And last, but not least, he runs the coolest and
best stocked locally owned grocery store
in NE Ohio!

Champion: Pat & Dan Conway – Great Lakes
Brewing Company

In addition to the biodiesel and sustainable food production methods the
Conway's are known for, the new super-insulated green house they are building
at the community garden at West 38th and Franklin is fabulous. The locally
unique project will extend the growing season of a select number of crops well
into our cold season. What can I say, other than that the Conway brothers are
really doing it right.

Considering all the other smart initiative Great Lakes Brewing puts into their
- and the true ignorance and contempt of most other beer makers,
bars and restaurateurs, who are content destroying out local economy and
environment - which do you want to support?

Champion: Medeana & Albert Hobar - The
Web of Lif

I would like to nominate Medeana & Albert Hobar of The Web of Life health
food store (Web of Life. 25923 Detroit
Rd., Westlake, Ph: 440-899-2882), in the catagory of organic/local foods.

Where do I begin? This amazing young couple represents everything your
organization stands for. Albert a former construction worker, discovered
wholefood. Through which he experienced greater energy and health. So he filled
himself with knowledge on local wholefoods. Soon after he visited the American
Harvest healthfood store, where he met Medeana. She was helping operate her
parents business at the time. Albert asked Medeana out by refusing to buy her
dinner unless it was food that would sustain her. She began to learn more
from him and it wasn't long before they were wed. Together, Medeana and Albert
have dedicated their lives to the betterment of others.

Medeana is a generous and giving young woman with a heart of gold. She is
filled with a passion and determination to see that the world is better for
children, even before she had her own. Because of her, I heard Congressman
Dennis Kucinich a few years ago warn of the Genetic engineering of foods. That
was the start of the first 200k signatures campaign against genetic
engineering. I met Dr. Robert Fox of the Humane Society in Washington, and many
others due to her launch of the Earthsave project here in Ohio.

Albert is a multi-talented man. He is passionate, knowledgeable and willing to
educate and assist anyone. He is also is a local producer of organic foods. What
ever he grows is labeled "Uncle Al's." If he doesn’t produce it, you
can guarantee he's buying and supporting other local and organic producers. It
may sound simple, but I have watched them struggle thru the process of starting
their business to support the community, teach others to do the same, expand
their business, add catering, extend their family, support their parents. I
know of others who run stores that Albert has personally mentored. I have seen
this couple give all they have, do without, work without rest, without profit
and no matter how hard the struggle.

They practice what they preach, and are determined to be a force in the world,
and choose to make a difference by being the difference. We are fortunate to
have them. They could tour the Nation, but they choose to stay in Ohio.
Everyone in the sustainable industries can look to them as an example.

Official E4S Food Category Acknowledgement Page