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Cincinnati Farmers' Market | Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati Farmers' Market | Cincinnati, OH

The Amazing Cincinnati Traveling Farmers' Market

Who doesn’t love to taste and explore their way through a local farmers' market! That’s the conclusion reached by three professionals at the Reinhart Cincinnati Division during a brainstorming session last year. Sales consultants Karen Mersman and Donna Reynolds, and produce and dairy specialist Jim Spitler put their heads together in an effort to identify exciting, fun and interactive alternative programs for their healthcare customers. The result was the introduction of an excellent and successful traveling Farmers' Market that was rolled out across several healthcare sites in 2016 in the Cincinnati Division, with many more planned for this year.

“The program was designed for use in hospitals, retirement communities, assisted living facilities and nursing homes,” said Karen Mersman. “We wanted to facilitate the opportunity for our healthcare customers to provide a unique, wholesome and enjoyable experience to their residents. Farmers' markets are such a desirable activity in terms of procuring fresh, nutritious produce, and they offer valuable opportunities for residents to exercise and connect socially with others. We have also realized that busy visiting families and healthcare employees welcome the chance to pick up a few things to enjoy at home.”

Within the program, healthcare customers simply agree to purchase produce for the market from Reinhart. Produce specialist Jim Spitler and the sales consultants for the accounts have assisted with set up, and the customer utilizes their own employees to handle the transactions with the residents, families and employees who attend.

“When it comes to design and implementation, we set up our Farmers' Market to resemble the produce booths one would see at an outdoor market held in a downtown square or on a city street,” Jim Spitler said. “Our customers can then customize their market offerings with products made in their own kitchens. The markets we’ve conducted have worked very well.” 

One enthusiastic participant in the program last fall was Chef Michael Wilhelm of St. Leonard’s Catholic Community in Centerville, Ohio. St. Leonard’s is a healthcare community of 800 residents, divided into three different levels: independent living, assisted living and critical nursing home care. The complex is comprised of three separate buildings with three kitchens and 12 dining rooms, a restaurant and banquet center and a staff of 100.  Wilhelm, a 1983 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has been with St. Leonard’s for over 16 years, and obviously knows a good idea when he hears one.

“Our goal was to bring a worthwhile weekend activity to our residents that they would not otherwise get to experience,” Wilhelm said.  “We designed our Farmers' Market event as a fall festival last October, on the grounds outside our beautiful church. We distributed flyers leading up to the event to generate attendance. Reinhart brought in all sorts of beautiful harvest produce – green beans, apples and oranges, zucchini, potatoes, salad kits and lots more. Our staff did cooking demos, including making gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches using Gouda and Colby cheeses and sliced apples. We passed out free samples of what we made, which was greeted with lots of enthusiasm. We also sold candy apples, apple cider, baked goods, pumpkin mousse, pumpkin bread, pies, cookies and praline pancakes. Residents were really pleased. We had a great turnout, the staff enjoyed it and we are looking forward to repeating the Farmers' Market frequently again in 2017.”  

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