Growing Local Roots – Our History

The concept that became Local Roots began to emerge in Wooster Ohio in February 2009 when people who were interested in  helping to make local food more accessible began and connecting and talking about how this could best be accomplished.

The core “steering committee” of a dozen enthusiastic and multi-talented persons began to meet weekly and to plan the development of the Wooster Local Foods Cooperative, doing business as Local Roots Market and Cafe.

Steering Committee Members from left to right: John Drouhard (Electrician, WCSEN), Keith Speirs (Architect, WCSEN), Dave Benchoff (OEFFA Board Member, Farmer), Jen Hugon (Graphic Artist), Jennifer McMullen (Writer), Marlene Barkheimer (Bank President), Jessica (Barkheimer) Eikleberry (Business/Computer Systems), John Anderson (Poultry Researcher – OARDC), Monica Bongue (OEFFA Member, PhD Biochemistry, Farmer), Betsy Anderson (Entomologist – OARDC, Former Professional Baker), Bill Boyer (HS Teacher, Gardener), Marlene Boyer (Family & Consumer Sciences HS Teacher)

Over the next several months the steering committee hashed out the details of the project including our mission, goals, guidelines, location, and operational details.  The plan was unveiled to the community at the Wayne County Public Library on May 4, 2009 and was well received!  Seeing the support behind the project drove it forward and on June 24, 2009 the Wooster Local Foods Cooperative, Inc. was established and began accepting memberships.

Prior to opening as a Retail Food Establishment (RFE), Local Roots ran 7 markets from 11/7/2009 – 12/19/2009.  After the last market on 12/19/2009 Local Roots closed and began the major renovations to the building that would be needed to be licensed as a  Retail Food Establishment (RFE).  These renovations were completed with funds from members, a Specialty Crop Block Grant from the Ohio Department of Agriculture/USDA, donations from local businesses, and loads of hard work from many committed volunteers!

On Jan 30, 2010, almost exactly 1 year from those first meetings, the Local Roots Market & Café officially opened for business.

Since those early days, the market has grown from being open only Saturday to a 6 day a week schedule as well as increasing the number of members, producers, products available, and overall sales.  In October 2010, funds received from the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) were received and put towards the completion of a small, but commercially licensed kitchen facility.  This was completed in June 2011 and allowed the opening an operation of the Local Roots Cafe.

The full vision for the Local Roots building was realized when our Commercial Processing Kitchen passed inspection in February 2014.  The kitchen allows producers to process and preserve products for sale in our market and around the country!  It was completed with the help of  $99,500 from Rural Development/USDA (RBEG) and a lot of volunteer hours!