Monthly Archives: October 2015

Locally Grown: Reserve Run Family Farm

How local is Reserve Run Family Farm?

Pretty local… like “Oxford, Ohio” local.

The farm, owned and maintained by Miami alum Drew Johnson, is a local provider of beef for Miami University and was present at Miami University’s Local Vendor Day a couple weeks ago. While there, students had the opportunity to sample the fresh, local beef that Reserve Run Family Farm supplies to Miami University. However, odds are, you’ve tried their product before.

Featured at Maplestreet Station’s Encounter and sold out of Market Street at MacCracken, Reserve Run Farm beef is easily accessible to students looking for a high-quality and all-natural product. It is a traditional farm with tried and true ways of doing things. All the cattle (and chickens they sell) are free-range and are hormone and antibiotic-free. They take great pride in their work and work very hard to ensure that the quality of their beef is consistently top-notch. This results in some of the best beef around.

“The meat is just second to none cause of how we feed and raise them,” says Johnson’s father-in-law, Dan Cartell, who represented the farm at Local Vendor Day. “Nobody raises beef like we do.”

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Dan Cartell served free samples of Reserve Run Farm beef at Local Vendor Day on Oct. 15, 2015.

Reserve Run Farm has been supplying customers with their high-quality product for over 60 years now and has been a presence on-campus for a couple years now as well. As for Cartell, he knew Johnson was onto something the first time he tried a Reserve Run Farm steak.

“Drew gave me a steak, wrapped in the white paper,” says Cartell while putting more beef on his small portable grill. “I thawed it as I drove back up to Cleveland. I cooked it up without seasoning or anything and it was so good. I called him up right after and asked him what he did to it. He was selling it shortly after.”

The free samples Cartell was giving out at Local Vendor Day also had students asking the same question. The natural, unseasoned flavor of the beef is remarkable. In order to accomplish that sort of high-quality, natural flavor, Reserve Run Farm has one primary focus in raising their cattle that differentiates them from others.

As with most great things, it all starts with food.

While the debate rages over grass-fed over grain-fed beef, Reserve Run Farm feed their cattle a balanced diet of unlimited high-quality hay, corn silage and a little ground corn. This is referred to as a “high forage diet” as it is mainly plant material (plant leaves and stems). At least 90% of the diet is made up of green matter.

While there is a much more thorough explanation of the diet in it’s entirety on the Reserve Run Farm website, here’s how they describe corn silage;

Corn silage is a forage food. It is the entire corn plant chopped into small pieces when it is still green. Once we chop the corn, we blow it into the silos where it uses gravity to pack itself tightly. Because we put it in the silo a little wet, it combines with natural yeasts already on the plant and ferments in the silo to naturally preserve itself. The product is a high quality feed which is highly palatable and digestible for the cattle. Corn silage has largely been phased out in American agriculture because of it’s labor intensive nature. We spend a good deal of time filling and maintaining our silos. We also spend a good deal of time feeding them silage via a wheelbarrow.

Cartell calls corn silage “cow’s beer”, saying the cattle would eat it all day if they had the opportunity. A part of the diet that is unlimited though, is the hay, which is also a forage, served out of feeders that cattle can eat from at any time of the day. The hay is grown from a variety of different seeds that can be adjusted based on dietary needs, time of year and other factors. Finally, the grain is the icing on the cake, actually served on top of the corn silage. Everything Reserve Run Farm feeds their cattle is grown and produced right there on their Oxford farm. It’s a little more work, but ultimately benefits the final customer in the way of quality and taste.

Between the way their cattle is cared for and the way they are fed, Reserve Run Family Farm produces a high-quality product that can be found on campus at MacCracken Market, stored in freezer bags that maintain the freshness of the beef, and at Encounter in the form of an Encounter burger (or double Encounter burger), which you can top with your favorite toppings. Reserve Run Family Farm has a website and are on Facebook if you’d like more information. Otherwise, be sure to check out their products at our campus locations!

“We’re very proud to sell to Miami,” says Cartell. “They have a very thorough process for getting involved, so we really appreciate having the opportunity.”

And Miami University appreciates having the opportunity to serve the locally raised beef from Reserve Run Family Farm.

Reserve Run Farm beef is sold at MacCracken and used at Maplestreet's Encounter.

Reserve Run Farm beef is sold at MacCracken and used at Maplestreet’s Encounter.

Locally Grown: Madisono’s Gelato

How does a shiitake mushroom farmer get into the business of making and selling sorbet and gelato?

Well, if you’re Matt Madison, it starts with a passion for food and a search for authenticity.

Last week, Madison attended Miami University’s Local Vendor Day as the owner of Madisono’s Gelato. There was a time though, when Madison was a farmer, growing and selling mushrooms and other specialty produce to chefs and restaurants in the Cincinnati area.

He dove into his passion for food, taking cooking classes and learning more and more about making and serving ice cream. Diving deeper, Madison attended the Ice Cream University in Brooklyn, New York, which is, in fact, a very real thing.

“I did graduate,” says Madison jokingly, shrugging his shoulders with a smile, “With honors even.”

Madison says that the University is often a destination for people from many of the national ice cream brands as they look to learn more about their craft. As for Madison, he was there to earn a degree in gelato production so he could produce the most authentic, high-quality product.

“If you’re going to emulate something like Italian gelato and sorbet, [that education’s] really important,” says Madison. “There are shortcuts out there, but we knew, if we’re going to do it right, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.”

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Matt Madison at last week’s Local Vendor Day.

Using his last name, and putting an Italian-spin on it, he came up with the name “Madisono’s Gelato”. Madisono’s Gelato then became the first gelato and sorbet company in Cincinnati, producing hand-crafted, small batch, artisanal sorbet and gelato of various flavors. Both of which are lower in fat than ice cream and use high-quality ingredients.

“We try to make as many flavors and ingredients from scratch. We try to provide the highest-quality product we can.”

That high-quality product was put on display at Local Vendor Day last week, where students had the opportunity to put a face to the name on the label. As for Madison, he sees the value of the event and the value of students getting to know the local vendors.

“Students should know that Miami is actively finding and procuring high-quality products,” says Madison. “The fact that Miami is doing that is a positive and probably congruent with the interests of the student body.”

If you were fortunate enough to try a sample at Local Vendor Day, you know how delicious the products from Madisono’s Gelato are. If you have not tried it, add a pint to your next MacCracken shopping run!

Madisono’s Gelato is available for purchase at Market Street at MacCracken in the freezer section. Feel free to follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter as well!

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Stop by MacCracken and pick-up some Madisono’s Gelato!

 

Local Vendor Day Fall 2015

“Would you like to try some free samples from some of our local vendors?” one MacCracken employee says to two students, passing along the sidewalk.

The two girls exchange a quick glance and grin. At once, they reply “sure” and head off, walking amongst the tables set in the grass, just outside Market Street at MacCracken.

It’s a gorgeous fall day, not to warm and not too cold. The setting afternoon sun, from just over Porter Hall, seems to spotlight the Local Vendor Event, flooding the lawn area. Two former Miami University employees play musical instruments, providing a folksy, down to earth ambiance, drawing in student after student, including one tour group, absorbed into the inviting, quaint setting.

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There was something natural and authentic about last Thursday’s 2015 fall rendition of Local Vendor Day. A certain charm about it. The premise of the day was simple; some of Miami University’s local food providers come visit, offer free samples and answer any questions students have about their products or how they are made. The draw for students, is not only that they can meet the people behind their food, but that students have the opportunity to taste test items that can be easily purchased right there at MacCracken. Not to mention, it puts a face to the name for some of the products featured at the MacCracken market, literally introducing students to the people behind readily available, homegrown, local food.

The vendors who attended this Local Vendor Day were: Grandola Granola, Reserve Run Farm, Just Mike’s Jerky, Windy Acres, Madisono’s Gelato and The Organic Farm at Bear Creek. Each vendor provided samples of their own products, which included vegan granola, locally raised beef sliders, beef jerky of various flavors, a variety of candies and goodies, authentic Italian gelato and delicious organic salsa, respectively.

While a rather odd assortment when listed together, each and every vendor was well-received by students, many of which seemingly unaware that the products they were tasting were just under their noses in the MacCracken market.

While the event allowed the vendors to introduce their products to students, it also gave students the opportunity to meet the faces behind their food and hear their stories. We place so much value on natural, authentic and high-quality food. What is more natural and authentic than products grown locally?

Grandola Granola and Madisono’s are both Cincinnati based businesses. The Organic Farm at Bear Creek is located in Ohio’s Washington Township (Clermont County). Just Mike’s Jerky is from Medina, Ohio and Windy Acres is from Wilmington, Ohio. Reserve Run Farm, who sells beef at the MacCracken market and provides the beef used at Maplestreet’s Encounter, is from our very own Oxford, Ohio.

The beauty of buying and selling locally is that there is something very authentic about that relationship. Whether it is the story of how Reserve Run Farm came to be, how the owner of Madisono’s attended Ice Cream University in New York or how Grandola Granola began as merely a quick snack for a loved one, there always appears to be more than meets the eye. After all, these are local businesses, started by normal people who had a passion for what they were doing.

Thank you to those who stopped by and got a taste of Local Vendor Day! If you want to know more about these locations, continue to check-in here at The Miami Spread as we will dive deeper into the stories behind each of the six vendors who attended. If you want to dive into the food though, you can find products from each of these vendors in Market Street at MacCracken!

“Locally Grown” series;

Madisono’s Gelato

Reserve Run Family Farm

Just Mike’s Jerky Company

Grandola Granola

The Organic Farm at Bear Creek

Windy Acres

“Thanks for your feedback!”

“Thanks for your feedback! We’ll pass it along!”

You just tweeted at @MiamiUDining with feedback. You were dissatisfied with an aspect of our food service and, rightly, took it upon yourself to reach out and share your experience. Above is the response you get. What does it mean?

We get it. Reaching out to a business, company or, in our case, a dining service is a little odd. Instead of having that face-to-face interaction, you are left with the 140 characters or less that tell you that everything is going to be okay. You don’t know how, but that’s what you are told. How do you know that your effort was worth it? What happens with your feedback and what do we do with it?

First of all, we love hearing from you. We strive to provide the best possible dining experience for our students, staff and visitors. While the positive feedback is music to our ears, sometimes something needs to be communicated that isn’t all that positive.

We get it. After all, we want to help.

And here’s how:

  1. When you reach out to us with negative feedback, whether on Twitter or Facebook, we will first respond to you by briefly explaining our process, the only way 140 characters can.
  2. We will pass the feedback along, forwarding it to the Dining Director in the form of a screenshot, as soon as possible.
  3. The Dining Director receives the feedback and quickly passes it along further to the Manager in charge of the location in question.
  4. The Manager will then take the necessary steps to, not only correct the problem, but will reach out to you through your Miami University gmail address with a response and/or solution.
  5. If you reach out to us with feedback and aren’t contacted by someone within 24 hours regarding your feedback, please reach out again through our social media accounts.

We are here to help and want to assure you that your feedback is taken seriously and is passed along in a timely manner. Please let us know if you have any issues and know that we are here to help. Enjoy dining with us!

On The Road At Downing Fruit Farm

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to take a drive to New Madison, Ohio and find the home of Miami University’s locally grown apples and pumpkins, Downing Fruit Farm (photo gallery below).

Downing Fruit Farm has been discussed on this blog before. The family-owned farm has been around since 1838, located in the village of New Madison, Ohio. According to Google Maps, the fruit farm is right around an hour from the Demske Culinary Support Center, just over 40 miles north of Oxford in Darke County.

The farm is, as you might expect, in the middle of farm country. The roads leading out there are winding, the fields are rolling and the people are scarce. As I made the final turn, the road dipped and bent one more time and the GPS – rather abruptly – announced, “You have arrived at your destination.” All that was before me was the road that extended further beyond, and a small mailbox on the side of the road. To my right was a quaint little farmhouse. There isn’t any sign or billboard, just a gravel path.

A drive leads up towards the central barn/shop/storage area and wraps around, providing parking and a glimpse at the different structures found on the farm that were initially hidden from the road. Families, both old and young, bustle about the space, the bright orange of the pumpkins scattered around the barn reflect the bright autumn sun while the trees provide a picturesque scene of a beautiful, natural farm. The entire setting reflects a level of authenticity that, for some reason, I didn’t really expect.

“Around 30 years ago, most of the business was done at the farm,” says Scott Downing, a seventh generation Downing who currently owns and maintains the farm. “I’d say about 75% of sales were made at the farm. Now, it’s closer to 25%. You just don’t get the Sunday drives like you used to have.”

My Sunday drive was eye-opening. While people love and embrace the concept of “local”, we sometimes lose touch with what that really means. The pumpkin on campus, used in the pumpkin smoothies and milkshakes – or even the locally grown apple available on campus – is grown and sold at a family farm only an hour from Oxford. A lot of hard work and time goes into ensuring the quality of their food. In addition to the work they put into preparing their products, the Downing family also creates other opportunities to reach out to new audiences by frequenting local markets like Oxford’s farmer’s market on Saturdays.

“Going to Miami… going to the market down there. We do fantastic down in Oxford at the market,” says Downing, who travels to various markets throughout Western Ohio during the week, selling his local fruits, vegetables and apple products, including apple cider that was once voted the Best Cider in the country.

At the farm, there is a definite homely feel between the natural, fresh products, the setting and people there. There are families with young children who are taking horse drawn wagon rides through the orchard or getting their face painted and older families with teenagers who have been to the farm every year since they were the ones with the smiling pumpkin painted on their cheek.

The central barn area acts as a family store and is stocked with apples and apple products, which make up nearly 70% of the Downing’s sales. A table in the back sells hot dogs and iced apple cider. The walls are lined with a variety of items, ranging from the familiar apple butter or cider to different jars of preservatives made from their own fruit or their very own fresh pumpkin butter. The quality and freshness of the products available are on display as visitors pick up entire bags of apples, pumpkins and a gallon of apple cider.

“We raise the highest quality of whatever we do, whether it is peaches, plums, apples or pumpkins,” says Downing, “It’s pretty satisfying to know that people appreciate and enjoy the taste and quality of our products.”

Downing can be found at the Oxford farmer’s market on Saturdays uptown, selling apples, etc. His products can also be found on campus in the form of the local pumpkin smoothies, available at King Cafe, Bell Tower and Miami Ice, and the pumpkin milkshakes available at Encounter. The Moon Co-Op, located near T.J. Maxx, also sells Downing Fruit Farm products.

They weren’t using the machine below while I was there, but let’s face it… it looks really cool.

Apple season in Ohio. #jonagold

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