Coit Road Farmers Market in 2005 

A Market with history, and a legacy for the future.

A Market with History

The present Coit Road Farmers Market was built in 1932 by an organization of farmers called Northeastern Ohio Growers Cooperative Association. Farmers had organized the for-profit cooperative during WW I. Bringing fresh food to people in the city was their act of patriotism. For more than a decade, the farmers had set up their market on available street corners around East Cleveland. During these gypsy years, the market was known as The East Cleveland Farmers Market, always setting up at an East Cleveland site.

In 1932, four acres of land at the corner of Coit and Woodworth Roads were for sale at a price the farmers could afford. The cooperative purchased the property, establishing a permanent site for their market and making a solid commitment to a future in East Cleveland. They built a year-round market structure that is still in use.  See the 1963 history below for more details.

For twenty-some years, the market prospered. Its identity became associated with the new location, Coit Road Farmers Market. During these peak years fifty farmers and vendors filled the stands. For the winter months, a portion of the Market was enclosed and heated for the apple growers and their harvest. City customers got a glimpse of farm operation by coming to Market to buy fresh poultry – farmers brought live chickens, ducks and geese to Market to be slaughtered and plucked on site, in the ‘chicken house’.

A Long, Slow Decline

By the 1950s, East Cleveland was beginning to experience the effects of red lining and white flight. Countryside and city neighborhoods alike were impacted by elements of the same social and economic trends. In the country, white flight translated to urban sprawl. Each year, fewer farmers came into Coit Market. Some farms were sold all or in part for housing development. Some farmers set up their own markets at the farm. Customers and farmers both seemed to be losing interest in Coit Market in the ‘inner city’.

Still Coit Road Farmers Market endured. By the 1990s, the number of Co-op farmers participating in Coit Market dwindled to four, with another six to ten farmers selling produce at various times of the season. Fewer active Co-op members meant reduced revenues, enough to pay fixed expenses of taxes and utilities, but not enough to fund basic maintenance and improvements or advertising./p>

 A Grassroots Rescue

In 1999 the remaining Co-op farmers, now third generation vendors at Coit Market, decided to put their Market ‘on the market,’ hoping to find a buyer whose interest and capital could provide the investment needed to make Coit Road Farmers Market thrive again. The only offer was from the owner of a construction company who wanted to property for a parking and storage facility for equipment and supplies.

Customer Kathleen O’Neill Webb asked the farmers to consider an alternative. The farmers agreed to sell the market to an entity that would continue the market operations and plan to revitalize the physical structures.

A New Era for Coit Road Farmers Market Begins

A group of interested volunteers was quickly convened, including other market customers and neighborhood residents. East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor attended an initial brainstorming session that also included Anita Cook of Cuyahoga County Farm Bureau and OSU Extension staff, from both the County and regional levels. This group concluded that Coit Road Farmers Market could and should be preserved. Individuals stepped forward to participate as members of a Board of a new entity called East Cleveland Farmers Market Preservation Society (ECFM). The organization was incorporated as a nonprofit and tax-exempt status applied for. The Gund Foundation provided preliminary funds through a discretionary grant to conduct an environmental assessment and for the creation of initial business and redevelopment plans.

Many meetings were held to discuss next steps and to consider candidates for the role of new titleholder of Coit Market. Finally, ECFM emerged as the best choice to own and operate Coit Road Farmers Market. An alliance was forged with Lutheran Housing Corporation to act as a conduit for funding and as interim titleholder until ECFM got its tax-exempt designation. The George Gund Foundation approved a grant application for funds to purchase the Market, and the title was transferred on May 15, 2001 – coincidentally, the Feast of St. Isidore, Patron Saint of Farmers. Cleveland Foundation, Abington Foundation, Electrolizing Corporation, LHS Foundation, and individual donors granted additional funds toward project management and Market improvements. East Cleveland Farmers Market Preservation Society was incorporated in the State of Ohio in August 2000 and received its IRS 501(c)(3) designation in November 2001.

The mission of ECFM involves revitalizing Coit Road Farmers Market and stimulating further redevelopment of our East Cleveland neighborhood.

Continuing goals and objectives are:

Much progress has been made toward these goals in the four years since acquiring and managing the Market. Ohio farm products added to Market include organic vegetables, organic and free-range eggs, organic grass-fed and grain-fed beef, all-natural lamb, pork and poultry, Amish cheeses, jams, jellies, Maple syrup, fresh herbs, artisan breads, spices, organic pantry items (flours, dried beans, whole grains, oils), Southern bean pies and homemade cakes, fair-trad locally roasted organic coffees.

Partnering to Meet Shared Goals

Partnering with Slow Food and North East Ohio Foodshed Network allowed Coit Market to host food tasting and informational events, with the celebrity attraction of Fred and Linda Griffith. New customers, both ‘foodies’ and folks interested in sustainable agriculture, discovered Coit Market at these events and have become regular shoppers.

Coit Road Farmers Market continues to be the only farmers market participating in the WIC Farm Market Nutrition Program. Eligible women and their children receive coupons that may only be spent on fresh Ohio fruits and vegetables. Coupons are distributed at Market and Department of Health staff provides nutrition information and recipes. Redemption rate for this program is generally greater than 80%.


The History of the East Cleveland Farmers’ Market - 1963

By Patricia E. Pahl
In collaboration with Lyle H. Battles

        The color, atmosphere, and hustle-bustle of the busy farmers’ market, now located at Coit and Woodworth roads in East Cleveland, Ohio, is an experience no one should miss.

    Now organized as the North Eastern Ohio Growers Cooperative Association, Incorporated, the highly successful market is a splendid example of what can result from good leadership, persistence and hard work./span>

         Beginning about 1917 as a war measure, and continuing after World War I, these growers from Madison, Perry, Painesville, and other northern Ohio locations, went into East Cleveland to sell their produce. Numbering about twenty at the time, they sold from their trucks at two markets, one day a week at Beaumont and Hayden, and another day a week at the second market at the northwest corner of the Euclid-Superior intersection. These locations were subsequently moved to Mann and Hayden and a corner of Emily Avenue at Superior. The basement of a building at Superior and Euclid was used for a short time, also.

        About 1923-24, the market, increased to include about eighty growers, moved to Eddy Road near Euclid Avenuein the area under and between the two railroad bridges. When this site was no longer available to them, the growers used an area at Doan and Hayden, from about 1928 to 1930. In the fall of 1930, the East Cleveland city officials told the leaders of the group that the market would have to be discontinued as a city operation, and could no longer use the Hayden site as a place to market their produce.

        Among these leaders of the growers’ group were George Barnes, Lyle Battles, Frank Brainard, Claud Brewster, Fred Dill, Will Lohiser, John Riggen, Sam Schupp, Will Seith, Lewis Van Pelt, and Tom White.

Organizational meetings were held in idle streetcars at the carbarns adjacent to the Hayden Avenue market site. Mr. Will Lohiser was chosen as temporary chairman until a more permanent organization was set up. He later became an active member of the Kiwanis Club and other East Cleveland organizations. In 1940, Mr. Lohiser was made a life member of the market corporation.

As it became known that the group was looking for a site on which to form a permanent market, more lots were brought to their attention; however, finding one they could afford was difficult at first. At Christmas, 1931, the market was glutted with celery. Though the price went down, and down again, few customers had money for it in that depression year, so the celery market became a meeting for this group. The farmers had taken their produce to the E. 40th Street Market, in lieu of a market in East Cleveland Over coffee, at a restaurant near the market a grower, Mr. George Collister, mentioned a lot which he had heard of, the Long property. This is the Coit-Woodworth property on which the market now stands. Also mentioned was a lot at Mann and Hayden Avenues. The owner had to sell quickly, as the bank was about to take over the property.

A committee was set up, with Mr. Lyle Battles given authority to negotiate. As this was a new organization with no credit standing, there was difficulty in doing business with the bank.

A meeting in Madison School, Painesville, had resulted in $2.00 memberships from each of seventy-three members. However, the bank wanted a year’s rent in advance, and double the amount which the owner wanted for the property. The meeting at the bank with five of the committee members present, and the bank official, was a turbulent and unfruitful one for the growers. Greatly discouraged, they looked at the Long property in the afternoon.

Though the area looked rough, and was hilly and covered with grass and weeds, a lease was negotiated on April 7, 1932. The property was then graded by the owner’s estate. An option to buy the property was included in the lease, as the Long estate had been an unsettled one for a number of years. Advertisements were placed in East side papers announcing the opening date of the market as May 21, 1932.

The management, as decided at the organizational meeting of February 18, 1932, would consist of five directors who would then select a president of the market from among themselves. One director would be elected for a three-year term, two for a two-year term, and two for a one-year term. The first group of directors elected were: Mr. Battles, Claud E. Brewster, Tom. L. White, Will G. Seith, and Fred W. Dill. Mr. Battles was elected president, a position he held for thirty years, until his resignation in January 1962. He was given a permanent stand for life, in recognition of his services.

A set of ten rules and regulations was compiled, and, with a few amendments, still remains in force. Because the rules are important to the success of the market operation, they are included in this history, as follows:

1.       No person is permitted to sell without being a member of the association and procuring space.

2.       No person can grant permission to another person to sell on his space without permission of the Board or Manager appointed by the Board.

3.       Any person producing less than 75% of each load shall be considered a dealer and not eligible for membership.

4.       Any person selling produce which came from a commission house shall be considered a dealer and not eligible for membership.

5.       All city regulations shall be considered a rule of this association.

6.       Each man shall keep his space clean and sanitary at all times.

7.       There shall be no dishonest packing or misrepresenting of produce to patrons.

8.       Any person refusing to comply with these rules shall forfeit all rentals paid and all rights to space on this market which shall be determined by the Board.

9.       The Board shall set the opening and closing dates of this market.

10.   Closing time to be determined by the members.

Rule # 3 was amended in January 1935 to read that each member was to produce 100% of what he sells except in cases of special products not grown by members of the organization, with the approval of the directors.

       Incorporation of the group was decided upon at this meeting, at the suggestion of Mr. Haskins, Lake County agricultural agent.

 As there was little money to work with, and the land was leased, marketing was done in the open, with canvas over the back of the truck to display merchandise.  Thirty stalls faced directly on Woodworth Road, an arrangement not too satisfactory, as rain and the hot sun spoiled produce, and both the customers and the farmers were subjected to the discomforts of inclement weather.

 In 1933, many businesses had large inventories and needed work; a contract was made wit a firm at $75.00 per stall to build covered stalls. The amount of $2,100.00 was raised and deposited in a Madison bank early in 1933, just before the bank holiday in March, 1933.   The bank was liquidated, and the money was unobtainable until about 1940; of course, the contract with the builder had to be broken. The covered market was built a year later at much greater cost. The stalls were built beginning at Coit Road, as suggested by the East Cleveland city engineer.

 First organized on an assessment basis, members paid the cost of operation at the end of the year; $35.00 per year per member covered the expenses for the first few years.

 The directors, in January 1934, appointed Mr. Newcomb and a committee of two to draw up definite plans for financing purchase of the property.  However a motion to buy was defeated by the general membership vote in March, 1934. In 1937, the directors again renewed the lease for ten years, with an option to buy the property included for a period of at least five years, at a price of $18,000. Finally, in June 1947, Mr. Battles met with the heirs to the Long estate in regard to buying the market property. The motion was carried by the general membership, and arrangements were made to purchase the property for $17,900.

 The personnel of the market had not had too great a turnover. Most have stayed and been loyal to the organization.  The drop in numbers to under fifty, is typical of the drop in the number of farmers throughout the country in the post-war years.  The first few years saw a few members warned, and occasionally expelled, for selling produce they did not grow, or because of shady business practices.

 During the first years, the farmers had little to sell; touring cars were used to transport produce. Only a few trucks were used.  At the present time, the large variety of produce is brought in trucks, in many cases, the whole family including the children, comes in to help sell it.

 As few of the early customers owned cars, delivery of larger quantities was customary; the farmers were often busy for an hour or two after market hours, making deliveries.

 The city of East Cleveland, in accordance with its high standards of inspection, cleanliness, and building code, has always maintained a close interest, but has never been antagonistic toward the market management and operation. The market is generally popular in East Cleveland.

 Mrs. Frederick W. Reindel (Salina) a leader in women’s organizations in East Cleveland, and at one time, president of the Federation of Women’s Clubs of Greater Cleveland, was influential in getting leftover produce from the market to East Cleveland relief clients during the depression. The city sent a truck for this produce after market hours during the worst of the depression; sometimes, two or three trips were required to take the donated produce.  Mrs. Reindel maintained an active interest in the market until her death.

 No winter market could be held until the winter of 1935-36, as the market was not enclosed until late in 1935. At that time, sides were put on three sections, and the market kept open all year round.  Winter rent was then $12.00 to cover the entire winter season.

 A poultry dressing house was built early in 1933, and freshly-dressed chickens and eggs continue to be much in demand at the market.

Cheese was sold during the first years of the market by Mr. Boyle, an itinerant minister.

 Market hours originally were set for Tuesday and Thursday with closing time at 1:00 p.m. and Saturday, with a 3:00 p.m. closing time. In June, 1949, Monday and Wednesday afternoon and evening markets were substituted for the Tuesday and Thursday openings. These market days have been maintained to the present time – Wednesday afternoon and early evening and Saturday early morning until mid-afternoon all year round, with a Monday afternoon and early evening market from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving.

 An annual dinner meeting is held every January, with a free dinner for each membership held. Perry Christian Church was the location for the dinner until 1945, when it was held in a restaurant in Painesville. The Chester Knights of Pythias Hall has been used since 1947. A business meeting-picnic is held every June, also.

 In July, 1945, a stall was rented to Mr. Lawrence Posatiere for the sale of citrus fruit and bananas. This was one of several stalls rented for the purpose of selling products not grown by the farmer members of the market.

 In 1952, a stall was rented to the Swedish Home Bakery, and another for the sale of cheese from Sugar Creek, Ohio. In 1956, smoked meat was added to the list of foods available at the market.

 These extra concessions not only add to the variety of products available, and the customers’ convenience, but also attract customers, especially during the winter months.

 The center aisle was paved in 1945, and the lower building aisle in 1948.  The area was enclosed with fence in 1952.

 The Taylor property on Coit Road, opposite the market was purchased for parking purposes in June 1950, at a cost of $13,00. This area was blacktopped in 1958, at a cost of $32,000. The area around the market has been blacktopped in 1956, for $8,000, and the rent increased to cover this cost.

 Improvements continue to be made each year. In late 1955, modern gas space heaters were installed to replace the four old coal-burning pot belly stoves used in the winter market. There was one freezing Saturday in early December, 1955, when the temperature was 10 degrees, with no heat, as the stoves had been removed and the gas heaters had not yet been connected.  Everyone froze!! Long the center for discussion between farmers and customers alike, these nostalgic reminders of another era are still missed and mentioned occasionally.

 Several additional sections were enclosed in the late 1950’s, and another two were enclosed in late 1961; a new and colorful sign was erected that year, also.

 The present board consists of the president, Norman Droese, the vice-president, Evans Riggen, Robert Schupp, Paul Golding, and Arthur Hart. The present secretary-treasurer is Mrs. Ione Patterson, who has held the position for the past three years. She succeeds N. C. Patterson, who held the office for twenty-two years.

 The market now sells a wide variety of farm-fresh produce, and draws customers from miles around. People of every status, age and race are to be seen there; many who visit the market to sample the atmosphere, soon become steady customers.

 This market has become one of the few successful ones in the entire country, due to the hard work and dedication of those first leaders and directors, who gave so much of themselves to build its firm foundation.

 

FARMERS’ MARKET

OPEN

ALL YEAR

 

WED. Afternoon and Evening

SAT. Morning and Early Afternoon

 

Also JUNE 1 – DEC. 1st

MON. Afternoons and Evening

 

 
1963

 

H.B. Andrews…………………. Thompson, Ohio

Lyle Battles (Honorary)………..Chesterland, Ohio

Charles Brainard………………. Perry, Ohio

William Brewster………………N. Madison, Ohio

R.W. Chapman…………………Perry, Ohio

Max Cinco……………………...Perry, Ohio

J. F. Craine……………………..Perry, Ohio

Norman Droese…………………Perry, Ohio

Clay Eddy………………………Chesterland, Ohio

S.H. Foust & J. Allen…………..Ravenna, Ohio

Paul Golding……………………Perry, Ohio

Art Hart…………………………N. Madison, Ohio

Harold Horton…………………..Painesville, Ohio

Tom Ivone………………………Madison, Ohio

Herbert Langshaw………………Perry, Ohio

Vincent Mangene……………….N. Madison, Ohio

Robert Masek…………………...Willoughby, Ohio

E. H. Miller……………………..Madison, Ohio

L.G. Morgret……………………Chardon, Ohio

Rodger Moseley……………….Geneva, Ohio   

Elbert Neville…………………. Madison, Ohio  

Wayne Neville…………………Madison, Ohio  

Howard Ogden………………...Madison, Ohio  

F.C. Palmer & Son…………….Perry, Ohio      

Samuel A. Patterson…………...Chesterland, Ohio

Martin Rand……………………Madison, Ohio

Anson Rhodes…………………Huntsburg, Ohio

Evans Riggen…………………. Willoughby, Ohio

Herman Roeber……………….. Painesville, Ohio

Harold Schultz………………… Chesterland, Ohio

S.B. Schupp……………………Kirtland, Ohio   

Paul Secor……………………..Perry, Ohio      

G.W. Seith……………………. Perry, Ohio      

Vincent Smirz………………….N. Madison, Ohio

Bert Somnitz…………………...Madison, Ohio  

Hubert W. Starr………………..Huntsburg, Ohio

Ernest Stirm……………………Madison, Ohio

Harry J. West………………….. Perry, Ohio

Thomas L. White………………Chardon, Ohio

 

Non-Common Stock Holders

G&B Cheese – Russell Braund, Chesterland

G&B Meats – William Godley, Cleveland Hts.

Swedish Bakery – Wilfred Hoffmanbeck, S. Euclid

Lawrence Posatiere -- Euclid