Part of Shores & Islands Ohio Like a Local series – Meet Lee Jones, Farmer
S&IO: Tell us about your business? Who is involved in the operations?
Lee: Farmer Jones Farm Market at The Chef's Garden, is a culmination of family passion and dedication led by myself, Farmer Lee Jones, and my brother, Bob Jones Jr. We're proud to say that the business has now embraced the next generation who are taking a more active role in running the day-to-day operations of the Farm Market.
Our commitment goes beyond being just a market for fresh, seasonal produce; we're deeply rooted in regenerative farming practices. The entire family, along with our dedicated farm team, works tirelessly to provide the community with nutritious vegetables. Farmer Jones Farm Market is a community-centric space that celebrates the unique flavors of our farm's bounty.
Throughout the year, we host events that mirror the changing seasons, inviting the community to engage in a sensory journey through the diverse offerings of The Chef's Garden. We also host chef-led culinary demos that provide insights into the preparation of our farm-fresh ingredients.
S&IO: What makes the Shores & Islands Ohio region a good location for your business?
Lee: The loamy soil in Huron, Ohio, plays a pivotal role in creating optimal growing conditions for The Chef's Garden. Our soil is a balanced mixture of sand, silt, and clay, offers excellent drainage, nutrient retention, and aeration. These factors contribute to the health and vitality of our crops, allowing us to cultivate a diverse range of fresh, flavorful produce year-round.
Beyond the agricultural advantages, Huron's location in proximity to several local attractions adds to the allure of Farmer Jones Farm Market. Travelers from out of town, drawn by the thrill of Cedar Point or the scenic beauty of Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island, have a special opportunity to enhance their stay by stopping at our market. For boaters visiting during the summer, we recommend exploring the market for healthy food choices as a delightful alternative to eating out, ensuring a well-balanced and enjoyable dining experience during their stay.
For those visiting Cedar Point, the renowned "Roller Coaster Capital of the World," Our Farm Market offers a delightful detour for those seeking a break from the adrenaline rush. Whether it's fresh snacks for the road or ingredients for a healthy picnic, our market provides a diverse array of farm-fresh produce to fuel their adventures.
Similarly, those venturing to the picturesque retreats of Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island can make Farmer Jones Farm Market a part of their local experience. Stocking up on our healthy and flavorful produce allows them to infuse their island stay with the goodness of locally sourced ingredients, creating a unique culinary connection to the region.
Farmer Jones Farm Market is more than just a local gem; it becomes a convenient and enriching stop for both locals and travelers looking to immerse themselves in the agricultural bounty of Huron. Our commitment to regenerative farming practices, coupled with loamy soil, ensures that visitors leave not only with memories of thrilling rides or serene island landscapes but also with the taste of fresh, wholesome produce that defines the essence of our market.
S&IO: Anything exciting or new planned for the 2024 season? What special events do you have planned for 2024?
Lee: The 2024 season at Farmer Jones Farm at The Chef's Garden is shaping up to be incredibly exciting, with a variety of special events designed to make each visit memorable.
- To start the year with a celestial spectacle, we're hosting a Solar Eclipse Viewing Party on April 8th. It's a unique opportunity to witness the wonders of the universe while enjoying the farm's serene atmosphere.
- In June, we're bringing back the beloved Strawberry Festival on June 22nd. Indulge in the sweetness of freshly picked strawberries and join us in celebrating the vibrant flavors of the season.
- As autumn arrives, mark your calendars for the Harvest Festival on October 5th, where we'll immerse ourselves in the spirit of the season with farm-centric activities and festivities.
- For those who love the thrill of Halloween, join us on October 26th for Halloween Festivities.
- November 16th marks our Annual Feed the Hungry Day, a special event where we unite with the community to make a positive impact and support those in need.
- And as the holiday season approaches, our December 21st Holiday Market will enchant visitors with artisanal products, seasonal treats, and unique gifts.
Every weekend throughout the season the Market will feature events that include live music, culinary demos, and wine tastings. We're dedicated to making 2024 a year filled with the joy of culinary exploration, community engagement, and the farm-fresh goodness.
S&IO: What is your favorite thing about living and working in the Shores & Islands region?
Lee: What I find most enriching about living and working in this region is the exceptional community that revolves around The Chef's Garden. The people here share a profound appreciation for the beauty of our farm and a collective love for the fresh, nutritious produce we offer. This shared passion creates a unique and welcoming atmosphere, turning every visit to Farmer Jones Farm Market into a meaningful and enjoyable experience.
S&IO: If you had friends visiting from out of town, where would you take them?
Lee: If friends were visiting from out of town, I'd take them to experience the best of the local area. Of course, we'd start at The Chef's Garden to enjoy fresh, delicious produce. A day at Cedar Point for some thrills, followed by a relaxing boat ride on Lake Erie, would be on the agenda. Toft's Ice Cream would be a must for a sweet treat, and we'd wrap up our trip with a visit to the Thomas Edison Birthplace for a touch of history.
S&IO: Perch or pizza? Where is your favorite place for either?
Lee: Perch or pizza? Well, for me, it's a nostalgic choice between the two.
When it comes to perch, my favorite spot is DeMore's Offshore Bar & Grill. It holds a special place in my heart as it's where my father often picked up fish for us growing up. The memories of enjoying fresh perch with family make it a cherished dining experience, and the tradition continues to bring warmth to my heart.
Now, when it comes to pizza, there's no place quite like Jim's Pizza Box. This local gem has consistently delivered mouth-watering pizzas, and it has become a favorite spot for the community. Interestingly, a good friend of the farm, Rachael Ray, also loves a trip to Jim's when she comes to visit. It's heartening to see how the love for this local pizza joint extends beyond our community and resonates with visitors like Rachael, adding a touch of fame to our cherished local spot.
S&IO: Lake or land? Would you prefer spending time on the water or by the shore?
Lee: I find a deep connection to the land, and my heart lies with The Chef's Garden and our regenerative philosophy. It's all about growing tasty crops and taking care of the land. Even though I prefer the land over the lake, I sometimes can't resist going out on my boat with my family for a fun day on the water. It's a nice break from farm life and a reminder of the good things both land and water bring.
S&IO: Anything else to add regarding how to enjoy the region “like a local?”
Lee: The Pied Piper ice cream shop is a favorite stop for me, and the Huron Lighthouse and fishing pier offer a peaceful getaway. The neighboring restaurants add so much flavor to the experience.