CLEVELAND — Everything sold in Ohio City Provisions comes from within the state’s borders.
The all-local butcher and grocer sells fresh-cut meats, eggs, milk, cheese and seasonally-available produce.
Trevor Clatterbuck and Adam Lambert opened Ohio City Provisions in 2016, with the philosophy of providing not only local food, but honest, traceable and high quality food.
“Not all local is created equal,” Clatterbuck said. “We’re not buying local just to buy local. We look at farming practices. You get a trusted, clean source. We’re looking for quality.”
With the exception of a few of the cheeses, everything comes from 100 miles of the shop, on Lorain Avenue, in Cleveland. The beef, pork, chicken and turkey comes from Clatterbuck’s Holmes County farm, Wholesome Valley Farm.
Ohio City Provisions is a seam butcher, meaning the meat is cut off the bone, along muscle groups. They make their own sausage and lunch meat in-house.
What they don’t get from Wholesome Valley Farm, they get from a network of regional farms.
“With a short supply chain, it puts more money back into the producer’s hand, and you can charge a fair price,” Clatterbuck said.
Straight to the source
Clatterbuck doesn’t have a background in agriculture. He grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia. He has degrees in political science and business management from Case Western Reserve University.
While he was a senior at Case Western in 2008, he started Fresh Fork Market, a weekly subscription service for local foods. Subscribers pick up a bag of local goods — produce, eggs, meat, dairy products and whole grains — sourced from about 100 farms all over northeast Ohio at pick-up locations throughout the region.
Clatterbuck said he started his first business because he saw a void in the marketplace.
“I saw it as an economic opportunity,” he said. “Then I fell in love with the industry.”
As Fresh Fork Market grew, he began getting more involved in the farming side of things. The demand for pasture-raised meats was increasing, so Clatterbuck began buying breeding stock.
He started working with Wholesome Valley Farms, an Amish-run farm, to raise animals for his supply. He later bought the farm in July 2015, in anticipation of opening the Ohio City Provisions. He wanted to ensure a steady supply of meat and have more control over the operations.
Around the same time, Clatterbuck and Lambert, a friend and chef, started talking about opening a butcher shop. They wanted to offer the same thing Clatterbuck did through his Fresh Fork Market, but knew not everyone wanted those foods in bulk.
They leased their current spot in Ohio City and, after extensive renovations, Ohio City Provisions opened in November 2016.
Retired chef Parker Bosley came in to beef up the selection of cheese in the shop.
Bosley grew up on a dairy farm in Trumbull County. He studied cooking at the La Varenne School in Paris and ran his own restaurant, Parker’s New American Bistro, in Cleveland, that focused on serving foods produced by local farmers for more than 20 years.
He’s now mostly retired, except for the work he does cultivating a small network of Ohio cheese producers for Ohio City Provisions.
The shop sells cheese from 11 cheesemakers, mostly small, farmstead operations where the cheese is made on the same farm where the animals are milked, farms like Old Forge Dairy, in Portage County, and Mayfield Road Creamery, in Ashtabula County.
There’s a renaissance going on right now in small scale dairy production in Ohio, Bosley said, and he’s excited to be a part of it. When he buys cheese from Old Forge Dairy, he pays $10 a pound and all that money goes to the farmer. It doesn’t get spread out to distributors and processors in the middle.
“That is very, very important,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful that someone can afford to be a small-scale, sustainable farmer, respect the environment, respect the livestock.”
Susan Morris, of Mayfield Road Creamery, said making cheese helped their struggling family dairy farm become viable again.
They started making cheese in 2007, while milking about 40 cows. They weren’t sure if it’d work, but it only took three years for it to become profitable. And having customers like Ohio City Provisions buying and marketing their product has been invaluable.
“They’re not just interested in local. They’re interested in quality. They want a product that’s good,” Morris said.
The local cost
Does good mean more expensive? Sometimes, but not always.
Not everyone can afford cheese that is $18 a pound, like some of the farmstead cheeses sell for at the store. But grassfed beef that was raised at Clatterbuck’s farm is $6 a pound at Ohio City Provisions, the same price grassfed beef fetches at large grocery store chains.
Many people think buying local means shelling out more money. That’s a damaging belief, especially for shops like Ohio City Provisions, Clatterbuck said.
“Sometimes we get treated as a luxury item. But we’re not,” Clatterbuck said. “Buying local is often times very affordable.”
Right now, many of their customers are city-dwellers who walk to the store several times a week to buy what they need for that night’s dinner. But Clatterbuck wants suburban families and others to know that buying local is accessible.
“We want people to know they can come here, get good food that was raised well and not break the bank,” Clatterbuck said.
(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or email@example.com.)
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