Community. When it’s strong, it makes a tremendous difference. The folks of Milan, Ohio may go away for school or a job, but the lure of home is too strong. They come back to the thriving farm community and contribute. Recently, I was in Milan, Ohio, visiting The Culinary Vegetable Institute, which Farmer Lee Jones helms.
Farmer Lee Jones has traveled all around, but also, Michelin-starred chefs come to visit him and cook at the institute. With his resources, you just know that if eats somewhere, it’s going to be honest-to-goodness good.
On an early farm morning, after we visited his chickens and Belgian draft horses, we headed into town. The town square was so crisply clean, it looked like it could have been built yesterday, rather than be a historic little place.
Community members all seem to gather for a cup of coffee “and” at The Baker on the Square. It feels like what the cracker barrel, pickle barrel or even old-timey saloon must’ve been like back in the day! Town leaders, law enforcement, store owners make the time to catch up on what’s going on — and what has been — in Milan.
Husband and wife team, Richard and Amy Shafer, own the 1880’s building and work their own bakery — an early morning lifestyle, to be sure. Richard’s father used to own the local ice cream parlor, so sweets seem to be in his blood!
There, I spied freshly made breads, cookies and even tried a tasty croissant. At their coffee fixings stations, they thoughtfully have a wide selection of sugar-free syrups. Everything in moderation, right?