Alumni

October 12, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Alum is Communications Coordinator for Food and Farm Association

A smiling Lauren Ketcham holding a large head of leaf lettuce with Down the Road Farm banner behind her in a farmers market tent

Lauren Ketcham

Since 2009, Lauren Ketcham ’03 has been the Communications Coordinator at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association in Columbus, Ohio. OEFFA is a nonprofit organization and organic certification agency committed to promoting and supporting sustainable agriculture.

In this role, she writes, edits, and designs OEFFA’s print publications, including their quarterly newsletter; promotes educational events for farmers and the public; manages the organization’s website, social media, and media presence, and communicates with OEFFA’s growing membership base.

A smiling Lauren Ketcham in sunglasses and sweater, standing in front of white wood framed greenhouse with plastic walls

Lauren Ketcham

Since 2013, she has co-managed Down the Road Farm, a vegetable and flower farm in Perry County, committed to sustainable agricultural practices. She focuses on farm communications, planning, recordkeeping, ordering, and growing and arranging the flowers, while her partner, Zack, does most of the marketing and day to day work with the vegetables. They sell their products through the Lancaster Farmers Market, Canal Market District, Keller Market House, and restaurants.

view of red, yellow, white, purple flower bouquets from above

She particularly loves the beauty of flowers, and sharing that beauty with appreciative customers is the highlight of her week during the summer. Each year, this becomes a bigger part of their business.

“I also like the challenge of farming; I think the skill, complexity, long hours, and sometimes heartbreak of farming is lost on many people, who may just see the lifestyle upside, or worse, don’t see this as an aspirational profession,” Ketcham says. “Managing a successful market farm is intellectually rigorous, physically demanding, and spiritually rewarding.”

A smiling Lauren Ketcham with freshly harvest garlic in orange wheel barrow

Lauren Ketcham with freshly harvested garlic

While living in Athens, she really caught the bug for community organizing, advocacy, and local foods—something that has guided her path since she graduated from Ohio University with her B.A. in Sociology and certificate in Women’s Studies. She experienced a deep commitment in the community to these values, and the jobs she held while she was a student (working as a Campus Recycling crew member and as work-study student at the former nonprofit, the Appalachian Peoples’ Action Coalition) further inspired this passion.

While she was in Athens, some of her most pivotal experiences were work-related. She feels lucky to have had a work-study position with the Appalachian People’s Action Coalition, where she got a taste for community organizing and nonprofit work, and met really inspiring folks like Marty Zinn and Art Gish.

“Later, when I was working for Campus Recycling (Best. Job. Ever.), I got to work for the passionate and energetic Ed Newman, whose enthusiasm was infectious,” she says.

After she earned her master’s degree in Sociology from New Mexico State University in 2005, Ketcham ran environmental advocacy campaigns in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, and later traveled the country, working stints on organic farms.

“I knew I wanted to farm, and to be involved in building a healthier food system, but despite New Mexico’s undeniable appeal, I knew I needed to live somewhere with water, somewhere I could put down sustainable roots, so I returned to Ohio,” she explains.

mostly black dog with grey-white muzzle, multi-colored tags on collar, in a pasture surrounded by white daisies

Blue

When she is not working, she likes to jog, listen to podcasts, eat good food, and spend time living the quiet country life with her nearly 16 year old dog, Blue (who she adopted while living in Athens).

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