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Shaker Square Citizen
Celebrating persons who have helped make Shaker Square a special place.
Eighth in a series.

Donita Anderson
North Union Farmers Market


Donita Anderson moved to Cleveland from Michigan in 1985 with her husband David and daughter Emma. They made their new home in the nearby Onaway neighborhood of Shaker Heights.

Fifteen years ago she envisioned farmers coming to her neighborhood each week, bringing farm fresh product to urban people. As a biologist and chef she knew fresh and local were the best combination for healthy food and taste. Early in this endeavor Donita reached out to mentor under the best at the time: New York's Greenmarket system where she acquired the knowledge and courage to move ahead.

Donita's husband David Anderson was the Market's first and chief supporter. Soon a spare room in the Anderson home became the market's first office and their garage the place to store equipment.

As PTO Council President of Shaker Schools Donita had made wonderful relationships with fabulous volunteers. The effort was soon being helped by Shaker Heights Councilwoman Norma Rodgers and then Mayor Patricia Mearns who suggested she form a small community group to launch the project. Mary Holmes co-founder, Peter Katz, Sheri Edison and Chris Stevens came on board. Mary Holmes became board President.

Donita, an admirer of the community that once farmed most of the land in Shaker Heights, named the farmerís market "North Union Farmers Market" after the Shakers. Friend and board member Barbara Chin designed the now familiar Shaker bandbox logo.

NYC Greenmarket shared their philosophy and farmerís producer only contract through the help of local lawyer Carolyn Steiner.

Jeannie Shatten convinced Larry Albert, then the manager of Shaker Square, to support the project.

The original founders met regularly to create what is now known as the North Union Farmers Market. Board members organized fundraisers. Attorney Tom Stevens helped them achieve IRS non profit status.

Donita had been approaching farmers about participating in the project. In July 1995 15 farms had signed up. On opening day six farms came to the Square, and 500 shoppers. Needless to say it was a success. The farmers were sold out in half an hour!

Donita credits much of NUFM's success to its volunteer leaders like Board President Louis Rorimer, Dr. Doug Murphy and his wife Dana who helped develop the farm certification program, and too many others to name.

Peter Rubin of The Coral Company has given generous support to the farmers market at Shaker Square. In recent years it has expanded to using both the eastbound and westbound lanes of Shaker Boulevard. In 2005 an indoor winter market opened in part of the former bookstore space.

In the height of Ohio's produce season an average of 65 vendors come to the Square, with crowds of around 4,000. That's almost a ten-fold increase since the first day the market opened.

Since its modest start in 1995, the North Union Farmers Market has grown to include four other markets in Lakewood, Parma, Olmsted Falls and Westlake. In 2007 it plans on having seven locations in northeast Ohio.

Our sincere thanks to Donita Anderson. The North Union Farmers Market has made Shaker Square a livelier better place to be almost every Saturday morning.


Arnold Berger

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