Heritage welcomes Gee to Morrow Co.
By Matt Echelberry
While President Barrack Obama spent time in Mansfield on Aug. 1, another president was touring other counties in Ohio, including Morrow County. In the afternoon heat of that day, about two dozen people crowded under a canopy at the farm of Matt and Corinne Gompf on County Road 46.
As the group socialized in the shade, an SUV turned into the driveway. A figure emerged from the back seat, wearing a red OSU baseball cap and his signature bow tie: Dr. E. Gordon Gee, president of The Ohio State University.
“Thanks for letting us invade your space,” he said as he approached the canvas.
For any of you readers wondering why someone listed in a 2009 issue of “Time” magazine as one of the top 10 university presidents in the United States would visit a farm in the rural area south of Galion, Gee is actually very interested in agriculture.
He explained that he and his team travel throughout Ohio each year and try to visit 44 counties every summer to speak with Ohio farmers and business owners, and also just to get out into the community. He joked that one year they attempted to visit all 88, which nearly killed him.
Gee came to the Gompf farm for several reasons. Gompf is a 2001 graduate of OSU and teaches agriculture at Mount Gilead High School. He and his wife Corinne run a farming business called Heritage Harvest Farm, part of the Community-Supported Agriculture program in which consumers can buy a share of the farm to get fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs and other goods directly from the farmer.
For them, it was the culmination of an 8-year dream. They came from Richwood, Ohio and bought their farm two years ago. They live their with their son, Fletcher (4) and daughter Emery (6 weeks).Gee wanted to see their farm and ask some general questions about CSA’s. “So you grow everything right here and it all goes straight to local consumers?” Gee asked.
Gompf said that was true, as Heritage Harvest is part of the local food movement. “We’re proud to be part of local growers. We’re all working as a team,” he said. On the farm, one can find a variety of crops, including typical items like tomatoes and squash, as well as the more exotic, like Armenian cucumbers. “If it’s different or strange, we try to grow it!” Gompf said, gesturing to the several acres of land they own where Co. Rd. 46 meets Township Highway 49.
They sell their goods at the Northside Farmers’ Market in Galion on Tuesdays and at a market in Mount Gilead on Saturdays. Corinne added that they are currently in a transition period for fall planting and also rent space across the road to expand what they can grow. Their farm is not certified as an organic farm, but they do use organic practices.
The Gompfs have also focused on utilizing social networks as a marketing tool in order to reach more customers. “Facebook is an excellent opportunity to spread the word on local farming. Our goal is to bring healthy food to the community,” Corinne said.
After Gee’s brief discussion with them, he shook hands with all in attendance and posed for pictures. Several representatives from the Morrow County 4-H Extension Office were there, along with Morrow County Commissioners Tom Harden and Tom Whiston. Harden commented, “It’s great that we have these young farmers who keep moving things forward.”
Gee agreed, stating, “We want young people farming. You set a standard for others to follow.”
Some 4-H members also stopped by. Kyle Hack, president of the Morrow County chapter of 4-H, was very excited to meet Gee. He called that afternoon a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Gee socialized for about an hour, thanked his hosts for having him and then moved on to the next county. According to OSU’s website, he oversees Ohio State’s six campuses, 64,000 students and nearly 40,000 faculty and staff.
For more information about Heritage Harvest, call 419–566-8807 or check out its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/Heritage-Harvest-Farm (make sure it’s the one in Galion, though).