XENIA — Folks don’t have to go way down yonder in the pawpaw patch to sample Ohio’s official native fruit. It may be as close as a local farmer’s market.
Milton Cook, owner of Cook’s Organic Farm in Waynesville, has treated shoppers at weekly farmer’s markets in Xenia and Deerfield Twp. to the unique, custard-like fruit. He also accepts orders for beef from his grass-fed cattle and organic eggs, traveling to the market site one day a month during the winter season to make deliveries.
“The main thing I sell is the beef,” he said, with eggs also at the top of the list. Seasonal offerings — all grown without synthetic fertilizers or pest control — include lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach and other greens, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes, winter squash and potatoes. Is there really a difference in taste?
“This has taste,” he said, with a smile and a glance toward his livestock.
Cook is the sixth generation at the family’s 142-acre spread just south of Waynesville. The farm has been in the family since 1803, and in 1991, he received his certification for organic farming.
He spent 25 years as a dairy farmer, at times milking 75 head of cattle daily. By 1996, he had switched to about 50 head of beef cattle, feeding them solely homegrown grass and a small amount of hay. For 10 years, he has also worked from January-April as a tax preparer in the Dayton area.
Most of the area farmers questioned the wisdom of his decision, he said. Farming originally was 100 percent natural, he said, and cows are designed to eat grass and hay.
“That’s how God intended cows to be fed,” he said. An organic approach, Cook said, is healthier for cows, people and the land.
Farmer’s markets tend to attract a variety of people, he noted. In Deerfield Twp. and the rapidly growing Warren County, the diversity of people makes a good customer base for the products he sells, Cook said.
Cook’s Organic Farm is located at 3611 E. Lower Springboro Road. For more information, call (513) 897-5946 or (937) 238-9858, or visit cooksorganicfarm.com.
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