Locally Grown: Downing Fruit Farm

Miami University’s Dining Services strive to buy locally, whenever possible, to support the community, reduce the environmental impact of long distance deliveries and provide our patrons with the freshest ingredients that Ohio has to offer. It is so important to us that 26% of the food we purchase is grown locally. Last week, we met the people behind the watermelon and red potatoes offered on campus. Now, we meet the farm behind Miami University’s apples, grown locally in New Madison, Ohio.

GRN - New Beg visit to Downings 11-11Downing Fruit Farm is located in New Madison, Ohio and is owned by Scott and Rachelle Downing. It is the oldest business in Darke County, dating back to 1838. Scott is the seventh generation of his family to run the farm, which has always raised fruits such as apples, peaches and plums. Vegetables are a relatively new development on the farm with production increasing over the last 20 years or so to nearly 25% of the farm’s income. Still, 70% of the Downing’s sales are from apples and apple products.

The Downing family has years and years of experience raising their fruits and vegetables, even developing several of their own apple varieties. One of their own creations is an apple called Downing Land, which is a cross between Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty and Pink Sugar. Pink Sugar, while delicious alone, is used for apple cider, as it is ready earlier in the season. The Downing family apple cider was once voted Best Cider in the country.

DSCN0627_1Downing is proud of the quality products he offers and believes that it is important for consumers to be educated about what is local. For Miami University, it is Downing’s apple orchards, about 40 miles or so north of Oxford.

The Downing Fruit Farm also grows peaches, plums, pears, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, melons, zucchini, sweet corn, winter squash, vinegar, apple butter, tomatoes, green beans, yellow beans, nectarines, pumpkins and Indian corn, among other items.

While Downing Fruit Farm used to sell their products exclusively from their farm, they can now be found at different farmers’ markets around the area, including Miamisburg, Centerville and Oxford. Downing sells products at five or six markets a week and enjoys winning people over with the quality and taste of his products.

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