Who We Are

The past few years, the area where I live, Crawford County, Ohio, has seen a wonderful explosion of younger families who are embracing the joys and challenges of living off the land. Because of them, amazing things are happening which have been embraced by our community. Farmer’s markets have been created and on-farm stores have opened. Families dedicated to growing organic produce and naturally raised meats are meeting the public’s needs for locally raised foods. And at the heart of this movement are the women.

Ohio Country Journal is my attempt to share the essence of farm life, focusing on, but not limited to, women. My goal is to bring you into our circle of friendship by inviting you to share your stories and experiences with us. You don’t have to be a full time country woman to benefit from joining us; you just have to be you.

The full-time country women featured in Ohio Country Journal are an inspiration to anyone who dares to follow her dreams, whether it is to live in the country or to bring the country life-style to their urban neighborhoods.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Full-time country woman profile: Mendy Sellman

Mendy Sellman stocks her store's freezers with naturally raised meats that she and
her husband, Russ, raise on their farm in rural Galion
Yesterday I had a nice visit with Mendy Sellman at her farm. I was there to interview her, both for this blog and also for Acres of North Central Ohio newspaper. Maybe the story will be published in the Galion Inquirer, too. I hadn't seen Mendy since before Christmas, so it was good to catch up on things and to see how her business has grown.

Mendy is the epitome of a full-time country woman. She is the sixth generation to farm her family's land and has expanded the grain operation into a naturally raised meat business, a community garden, and an on-site farm store. More on that later.

A Pioneer in Establishing Local Farmers Markets

I first met Mendy about ten years ago when Main Street Galion organized a farmers market on Public Square. I was already set up with apples and pears from our orchard when she arrived. I offered to help her unload and set up, and we've been friends ever since. During our first conversation, I realized that her father is a good friend of my husband. That early farmers market failed, as many do; lack of parking being the biggest issue. In the meantime, Mendy was hard at work, offering garden space to friends. That small seed sprouted Hebron Community Garden. The goal of the gardeners is to grow food for their families in a healthy, organic way. They were so successful that they soon had a produce overload, and were looking for a way to share the bounty. Working with a local church, Mendy helped establish God's Little Acre Farmers Market. At this same time, other area families were starting market gardens. God's Little Acre became the place where these families met and got to know each other. With an abundance of produce, a vendor (Toni Norwood, who will be profiled at a later date) came up with the idea to start a mid-week market and approached me to help her. A quick, informal survey of vendors asking if they would like to participate resulted in a resounding "Yes!" so it was that Toni, Mendy, and I put our heads together. I immediately thought of Galion's K.F.C. as an ideal location because I am friends with the owners, who are extremely community minded. Their store is on a main route that comes into town and has a large grassy area in front, as well as ample parking. Jan and Joe, owners, were quick to agree to the market, and so NorthSide Farmers Market was born. By this time, Mendy and her husband, Russ, had established their naturally raised meat business. To show the type of support K.F.C. has for the market, Jan and Joe put up a barn-shaped storage shed and ran electricity to it, to help run freezers for vendors like Mendy and Russ. NorthSide Farmers Market has become the most heavily attended market in Galion. Mendy and Russ currently set up at four markets. The addition of meat has helped these markets to grow.

The Farmers Wife

Mendy and Russ Sellman. owners
and operators of Rus-Men Farms, welcome
customers to their new store, The Farmers Wife
For several years, Mendy had the desire to have an on-sight farm store. With the successes of community garden and farmers markets behind her, she set out to make her dream a reality. In 2012, The Sellmans opened the door to their new store, aptly named The Farmers Wife. The store sells meats, of course, and also their own farm-raised eggs and produce when in season. Bringing people together is something that Mendy does very well. To further help the local economy, Mendy also stocks items made by local women. A trip to her store for a roast for dinner might also have the shopper bringing home hand-milled soap, baskets, aprons, totes recycled from feed bags, hot pads, crocheted dish cloths, spice mixes, and more. The demand for eggs is so large that Mendy supplements her supply with eggs from Corrine and Matt Gompf, of Heritage Harvest Farm. Corrine is a full-time country woman who I plan to profile on this blog. To encourage healthy eating, Mendy also stocks organic sugar, organic coconut oil, and locally produced maple syrup. Looking towards the future, Mendy plans to add more wholesome food products for the health conscious consumer.


Inspiring a Younger Generation
During my visit with Mendy, a young woman, Carrie Cottrell, and her small child arrived to run the store while Mendy worked on other duties. My conversations with Carrie revealed that Carrie and her husband live on eight acres and are working towards living a sustainable lifestyle. She credits Mendy's mentoring as her inspiration to follow her dreams. When I questioned Mendy, who is far from being "over the hill" about it, Mendy's reply was she loves to teach farm life to others, and that these younger women are a blessing to her because they remind her why she lives the life that she chose to live.

Family First

 Mendy's family life runs deep. The sixth generation to farm her land, she was especially close with her grandfather, who she readily admits to butting heads with in more than one occasion because they're, well, built from the same cloth and both had strong opinions as to how the farm should adapt to a new era in farm techniques as well as a new economy. Now deceased, her grandfather is with her in spirit as she goes about her daily chores; feeding animals, collection eggs, helping during grain harvest, running the store, gardening, canning, freezing, preparing for markets...whew! this list is long! Help is not far away, as her daughter Emely and her husband, Dustin Tate, live across the road in one of the Sellman's three farmhouses. Son Jesse, who is active in Future Farmers of America and 4-H is also a farm hand, and younger daughter Elaina, also active in 4-H, helps run the store and works at markets.

Mendy's love of her family is part of what has fueled her desire to provide the same healthy foods that they eat to local families, as well as continuing the grain operation. In all aspects, she has been successful because she has been consistent in making her plans happen, even when they seem to be impossible dreams. To Mendy and other entrepreneurs, I quote Steven Tyler: "Dream on! Dream until your dreams come true!"

My visit to Mendy's farm was pure joy. Shopping at her store is quite the country experience, from seeing the animals that are in the Sellman's care, watching barn cats sun themselves on a roll of  straw, smelling lovely hand-milled soaps, and even coming home with a roast for today's dinner. What could be better?

The Farmers Wife is located at
710 Iberia Rd., Galion, Ohio
(419) 462-5295

Hours are Tuesday 10-2
Thursday 4-8
Saturday 9-1

For updates on the Sellmans and their buisnesses, visit Rus-Men Farms Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Rus-Men-Farms-Naturally-Raised-Meats/344044869152

Marcheta *dreamin' on

Scenes from Rus-Men Farms



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