Tastemakers 2017: Jaime Moore of Great River Organics and Wayward Seed Farm
Why She's a Tastemaker
Jaime Moore, a passionate advocate for Ohio's growers, is a vital link between residents and the local harvest. In 2006, she and business partner Adam Welly established Wayward Seed Farm in Sandusky County on less than an acre; it's grown to more than 30. She helped create farmers markets in Dublin, Bexley and at Ohio State's Wexner Center Plaza, and she's the manager of the Worthington Farmers Market. Moore also co-founded Great River Organics, a cooperative of eight certified-organic farms that features collective wholesale operations and agricultural market bags, delivered regularly to customers.
Culture shock greeted Moore upon her arrival in Columbus. Until she moved here to attend college at Ohio State, she'd never purchased meat from a grocery store; instead her childhood home's freezer was stocked with cuts from animals raised on family farms in a bucolic setting two hours north in Fremont. She re-entered that farming lifestyle when Adam Welly's boss gave him the land that became Wayward Seed. “It was definitely just a little adventure, you know, a young person's adventure,” Moore says. “Like, ‘Ah, what do I have to lose?'”
Don't Buy the Hype
Her professional food endeavors began amid renewed public interest in all things fresh and local, but Moore says terms like “sourcing local” and “farm-to-table” are so misused they've been rendered meaningless. “A lot of these restaurants are making names on the backs of farmers,” she says. “The number of times I've seen the Wayward Seed Farm on a menu or a chalkboard and I haven't sold anything to that restaurant in over three, six, nine [months], a year—it's pretty horrific sometimes.” Moore says consumers, restaurants and farmers need to start having a more discerning conversation about how to really support local growers.
Great River's farms (including Sunbeam Family Farm and Rock Dove Farm, to name a couple) have differentiated themselves from the local pack by emphasizing their organic certification, which provides a consistent standard and a bevy of worthwhile benefits. “It's about environmental quality. It's about the natural habitat. It's about the nutrient density of the food,” Moore says. “It truly is a holistic approach to farming, that we're not robbing Peter to pay Paul. We're not killing our soil to have more yield.”
Farmers Are Businesspeople
Moore and her peers are watching consumer trends and analyzing farmers markets nationwide to see how other regions create success for vendors. The Great River members are not just “poor little farmers,” Moore says, and they intend to be taken seriously as businesspeople with price-competitive, high-quality products. “We're damn confident that it's going to look better and taste better and last longer on your shelf than any other products you're going to get,” she says.
PREVIOUS GIG Hospitality management assistant at Double Eagle Club
MUST-HAVE INGREDIENT Carrots—she stretched the 2015 harvest as long as possible, into June 2016.
DREAM DINNER DATES Her friends Steve and Katesha Weaver and her significant other Alexios Hadji. “They're not afraid to gorge with me. … I don't care if you're stuffed, there are three more courses, you're going to suck it up and do it.”