Local Food Flavors the Mahoning Valley

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Mahoning Valley residents with talent in the kitchen and a taste for entrepreneurship have turned their passions into successful businesses.

In the August issue of The Business Journal, we rounded up some area entrepreneurs to sample some of the local food in our region.

Gourmet Popcorn Rocks Sales for Kernel Crunch 

Michael Mieltta worked as a graphic designer. But over time, he wanted to change careers. In June 2016, Mieltta began Kernel Crunch’s Rockin’ Gourmet Popcorn.

Mieltta produces his popcorn at the Common Wealth Kitchen, creating 15 flavors that feature ingredients grown and made in Ohio and Pennsylvania. 

Mieltta sells to Ohio University in Athens and to four small businesses nearby.  Customers can purchase popcorn from KernelCrunch.com and Shaker Backyard Bar & Grill in Poland. Mieltta recently purchased a trailer and plans to set up in the Morgan Oil parking lot in Poland Township.

Got Gourmet Egg Rolls? 

Trina Williams, owner of A Fresh Wind Catering

Trina Williams, owner of A Fresh Wind Catering, began her culinary career as a cook at Youngstown State University. While experimenting with recipes, she began creating gourmet egg rolls and turned them into her own business in 2015.

Like many local food entrepreneurs, Williams uses the Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator and frequently sources products from the others who use the kitchen. 

A Fresh Wind provides catering for nonprofit organizations and political events. 

The company adopted digital sales and ordering tools in 2019, using its website and social media. Customers can place orders at AFreshWindCatering.com.

Sales Grow at Huffman Farm 

John Huffman says apples are the most popular items at his farm.

John Huffman is usually preparing for the busy season at Huffman Fruit Farm at 13080 Lisbon Road in Salem. And recently, he and his staff have been putting in even longer hours.

Huffman has seen an uptick in business since the spring and the higher volume of sales has carried over into the summer. 

Berries and peaches were recently picked and the farm is preparing to harvest apples, its most popular item.

The 55-acre farm has been in the family for over seven generations. Apples are available year round along with baked goods, canned items, eggs, frozen meat and more.

The Buzz About FarmGirl’s Honey 

Ed and Kimmer Wolfinger sell their product at their farm in North Bloomfield and at craft shows.

Kimmer and Ed Wolfinger, owners of FarmGirl’s Honey in North Bloomfield, have produced honey since 2009. The couple got into the business after purchasing bees from Florida to help them grow tomatoes.

The Wolfingers sell the honey out of a shed on their property at 8710 Dennison Ashtabula Road and at craft shows. The couple also does a fall honey extraction and invites people to watch them harvest their product.

Because of COVID-19, the farm began contactless pickup. Customers can place their orders and the products are disinfected and left on the front porch.

Joe Schmo’s Kitchen Produces Spice Blends

Barry and Amanda Franks started Joe Schmo’s Kitchen after their friends were impressed with their spice blends and peppers in oil.

Four years later, the business has expanded to online sales and its products are distributed through 40 retailers.

Joe Schmo’s Kitchen works out of the Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator in Youngstown. Other food entrepreneurs use the peppers in their recipes. 

The couple used to grow their own peppers, but couldn’t keep up with demand and now buy from local farmers.

Pictured at top: Michael Mieltta produces 15 flavors of gourmet popcorn. 

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.