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Microgreens are the original petite cuisine. Dainty and delicate atop any dish, served at some of the most revered restaurants in Columbus, the highfalutin alternative to salad or sprouts might have an unlikely source. Drew Sample supplies a select set of chefs throughout Central Ohio, eager to acquire his premium small-scale produce, from an equally [...]
J.R. McMillan

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Microgreens are the original petite cuisine. Dainty and delicate
atop any dish, served at some of the most revered restaurants in Columbus, the highfalutin alternative to salad or sprouts might have an unlikely source.

Drew Sample supplies a select set of chefs throughout Central Ohio, eager to acquire his premium small-scale produce, from an equally small-scale farm he operates on a tiny lot in North Linden—a neighborhood hardly known as a hotbed of horticulture.

“For me, urban farming really was a political act, it’s showing what you’re about instead of what you’re against,” he explained. “Decentralizing the food system and helping to create a different relationship between people and what they eat is essential.”

An intriguing addition to an otherwise sanguine salad, those diminutive doses of arugula, mustard, and cilantro aren’t meant to make your plate pretty. Microgreens have all of the nutrient density and flavor intensity destined to become a mature plant, just harvested in days or a couple of weeks instead of months.

 

“Decentralizing the food system and helping to create a different relationship between people and what they eat is essential.”

“They’re more than an upscale garnish, but sometimes folks don’t know where to begin beyond salad. I think burgers are the way to go,” he explained, noting how he tries to help chefs get creative. “They add so much color and texture. My dad surprised me by putting micro-radish on mashed potatoes, it’s peppery. So now I’ve converted several people to microgreens with this photo he sent me of his mashed potatoes.”

Hailing from Toledo, with family roots in Kentucky, Sample returned to Columbus in his late 20s, having spent a stretch of his formative years here from adolescence to early adulthood. But a soul-crushing corporate sales job and suburbia never quite fit his free spirit or sense of purpose.

“I learned something from every job I’ve had that helped me go into business for myself. But most of the time, it seemed like I was just getting paid to deal with irate customers,” he revealed. “I was looking for a business to fall back on and farming was something I knew I could do.”

Sample’s inspiration and knowledge of farming came firsthand from his grandfather, who, as a farmer left Appalachia looking for the promise of urban life, only to find a different kind of struggle. It’s a work ethic that rubbed off from an early age, and when the opportunity arrived, it was seed money from his grandfather that helped him start Capital
City Gardens.

“I harvested yesterday and I’m going to deliver everything today. That’s my edge over bigger companies that charge more for a lower quality product,” he explained. “A lot of farmers charge a delivery fee. I live in the city, so I don’t have to—and if chefs let me know they need something
I happen to have, I can add it to the delivery.”

There are no slick brochures or advertising budget. Capital City Gardens is as organic as marketing gets. Clients vary widely, but his business is built almost exclusively on personal referrals, from the Refectory and the Ohio State Faculty Club, to The Guild House, M at Miranova, and Cameron’s American Bistro. A couple of breweries also round out the list, but he’s always looking for customers, with a soft pitch and a smile.

“You go where you’re
deserved, not simply where you’re needed. It’s why I’m
happy to donate my produce and time to people who hustle and work hard to improve
their own communities.”

“I picked up The Little Kitchen food truck at a farmers market,” he explained. “I just asked her where she got her microgreens, offered her some of mine, and she started buying.”

Sample originally started by volunteering with a community farm on the south side of the city, harvesting and working the farmers market on the weekends. You’ll still find him lending a hand at the Westgate Farmers Market, even beyond operating his own booth.

“Farmers markets are built on ground-up innovation. For me, it’s easy to just set up and not worry about how to take SNAP. I can just tell people I accept anything you have for food,” he explained. “You go where you’re deserved, not simply where you’re needed. It’s why I’m happy to donate my produce and time to people who hustle and work hard to improve their own communities.”

But once-weekly markets alone weren’t enough to build a business, and by the end of his first summer, economic realities started to set in.

“Last season, most of my income was coming from farmers markets. So when it ended, I was in a lot of trouble,” he admitted, even working at a pizza joint as a side gig while growing his roster of restaurants. Now they’re the majority of his business, and OH Pizza and Brew is a client. “Restaurants have to pick and choose what they buy locally, so I work with chefs to understand what they want before I plant.”

His margins are lower, and so is his surplus, growing just enough to sell or share with family, friends, and neighbors—who’ve all become less suspicious and skeptical of his unlikely grow operation. Spoilage is so low, he doesn’t even bother trying to write it off on his taxes, or carry crop insurance, the safety net standard for most farms. Worms turn what little is left into the next crop of greens.

Capital City Gardens isn’t entirely a one-man operation. Sample still gets his hands dirty, but credits his farm manager Rich Fraztel with allowing him more time to focus on building customer relationships while keeping the growing pains of expansion to a minimum.

“People who go into business for themselves focus too much on the money. Success comes from building relationships,” he opined. “If you
take care of your customers, the money will be there. That’s what makes the difference.”

Once the weather worsens, Capital City Gardens transforms exclusively to an indoor endeavor. The converted basement allows for tight control of light, temperature, and humidity with crops on rolling racks rotated for consistent quality and maximum yield. While the rest of the world waits for enough private investment and government subsidies for vertical farming to finally take off, Sample is just making it work by intuition and necessity.

Urban farming isn’t Sample’s only political passion project, nor is his pioneer persona tethered to the terrestrial. He also hosts The Sample Hour, a prolific podcast started on a whim back in 2012 to chronicle the conversations he and his friends were already having on topics profound and obscure. From self-reliance to permaculture, Thomas Sowell to topsoil, it now attracts guest interviews from Mike Michalowicz, former Wall Street Journal small business columnist and folk hero for would-be entrepreneurs everywhere, to Thaddeus Russell, the disavowed academic whose A Renegade History of the United States was published as a response to being tossed off the faculty of Barnard College.

His podcast churns opinions and electrons as easily as he turns the earth, and for the same reason—daring to cultivate something novel in the age of ordinary.

Sample’s pivot from microgreens to macroeconomics comes naturally, an approachable iconoclast who thinks labels are for canned vegetables and rhetoric, not people or ideas. It’s another trait he inherited from his grandfather, who passed away recently, but whose grounding influence and relationship with the land lives on in Capital City Gardens.

“Toward the end, we’d sit and I’d read him excerpts from Wendell Berry I knew he’d appreciate. It was invigorating for both of us,” Sample revealed. “Like any farm, it would be nearly impossible if I couldn’t do it on my own land. He’s the one who allowed me to do this. This is his legacy.”

For more of Sample’s podcast, visit samplehour.com.

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People

Former OSU player starts career as Columbus Firefighter

614now Staff

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Former Buckeye and New Orleans Saints running back running back Antonio Pittman is trading the pads and helmet of the gridiron for a fire hose and a...different helmet in his new career, according to ABC6.

https://twitter.com/mariawsyx6/status/1228415062051819520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fabc6onyourside.com%2Fnews%2Flocal%2Fformer-ohio-state-nfl-running-back-opens-new-chapter-as-a-columbus-firefighter

Having recently graduated from the Columbus Fire Academy, Pittman is now on his first week on the job at fire station 12 on the city's west side.

A native of Akron, Pittman played for Ohio State from 2004 to 2006, and was part of the number 1 ranked team that defeated number 2 Michigan 42-39 in the "Game of the Century."

Pittman was then drafted by the New Orleans Saints, but was forced to retire from the NFL following a persistent knee injury.

"My goal was just to play football and honestly, I did that. And the dream was to have a ten-year career and to retire at 32 years old and be off in the sunset and just living comfortably. But you know, plans change and in life, you have to adapt to the change," Pittman told ABC6.

"My goal was to one day give back to a community, a city that's given me so much. A city that changed my whole outlook on life as a kid growing up in Akron."

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People

The Rest Is History: Couples in Columbus share their stories of falling in love

Mitch Hooper

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Illustration by Sarah Moore

If Hollywood would ever pick up a romantic comedy about a couple falling in love in Columbus, how would it look? Would it be an epic story ending in an intimate proposal on the Scioto Mile, or two strangers bumping into each other at the Varsity Club on game day?

Funny enough, both are very plausible.

This month, we wanted to answer the question: what do love stories in Columbus look like? And what we found is sometimes love stories don’t happen in Columbus; instead they happen because of Columbus. While some folks were high school sweethearts who rekindled the flame, others struck up conversation in countries far away just because they shared the same ZIP code. In part, where you’re from shapes who you are, and for these couples, the capital city holds a special spot in their hearts. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Rachel Grauer and Aaron Guilkey

Aaron and I first met in the early 2000s at Eli Pinney Elementary in Dublin. He was my first boyfriend in fourth grade and broke my heart on AIM (AOL Instant Messenger, for the young folk). We didn’t speak a word to each other all of high school, thank you high school social hierarchy. I went on to OU and he to OSU. We reconnected after college while on a bar crawl in the Short North and the rest is history. We are getting married September 2020!

Lauren Sheridan and David Tripp

All of this is true: We met at a Clippers baseball game. It was a team outing for work. I worked with his mom and she was setting us up. This story is meant to be a complete disaster. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Our first o cial date was at 16-Bit, where we would take our engagement pictures over two years later. He lived in Arizona for 10 years before moving back to Columbus in 2016. It’s been fun reintroducing him to the city, especially our food and beer scene. I can’t imagine having these adventures with anyone else.

Misty and Erin Dickinson

We met at Rendezvous Hair Salon, where she is a hairstylist. Then we spent time together at Drauma at the Bluestone, followed by a night out for a Nina West show at Axis complete with dinner at Union and after party drinks at Macs. We were with my friends and I o ered to walk her to her car which had been towed because, well, Columbus. I stayed with her until we finally found her car at 3 a.m. We started hanging out a lot after that while we both swore we were “just friends”! Almost five years later and we are back in Columbus after a two year move to Tampa. We married (twice, but the story will be way over 100 words! Second time at LaNavona), and have a thousand Columbus stories. Columbus is our home. The place we love and always come back to. There is no place like it.

Kellie Anne and Carl Rainey

I moved to Columbus from LA in 2014 and met my now-husband a month after the move. We found out quickly that we were both California sports fans and went on our first date on Halloween. Lakers vs. Clippers was on the TV at the bar, so we made a bet and the loser had to pick up the tab. My Clippers beat his Lakers, so he had to pay up. We’ve been inseparable ever since. We got married March 23, 2019, and I’m so happy to call Columbus my forever home now!

Daniel Custer and Jenny Harris

I met Jenny on a wine cruise in Santorini, Greece. I saw her from across the pier before we boarded and knew I wanted to chat her up—she was gorgeous. She and her friends sat by me on the catamaran and we began telling one another where we were from. When it got to Jenny, she said she was from Columbus. I said, “Where?!” and she said “Grandview!” We spent the rest of the weekend together, along with the past three years.

Brittany and Ethan Monk

We met as employees at Scioto Country Club in UA. He was a broke server and I was a broke student working as a hostess. We spent many holidays away from family but with each other. We are complete opposites that were impossibly attracted to one another. We married and have 2 children. Still opposites—I work in clinical research and he is a musician and stay-at-home dad. We both have made Columbus our home!

Nicole Erdeljac and Andrew Crowell

We spent the day (separately) at the 2019 Memorial Tournament and were hanging out at the Bogey Inn afterwards. He was standing at the bar and I was behind him, waiting to be served. His friend kept accidentally hitting my shoulder while trying to reach over me to get his attention. I was visibly annoyed when he asked me to tap him. But, I did. We spent the rest of the night dancing to the live band and had our first date a week later at the Columbus Arts Fest, once again, dancing to the live sounds of Anderson East. The rest is history!

Tracie Lynn and Adam Douglas Keller

It was one month to the day after my mother had lost her battle to cancer in 2007. It was one of my favorite nights for being out in Columbus—Red, White, and Boom. After my sister’s and my friend’s group persistently encouraged us to go out for fireworks and time with friends, we agreed. We needed something light and fun. What could possibly come of that?

I’ll never forget the moment that I made eye contact with this handsome, tall and smiling man. He had happened to be out with a mutual friend of our group. We made small talk, listened to live bands, and, well—the rest is history. Nearly 13 years later, we now have two great kids, two dogs, and a rich, full life in Columbus. This is the city we met in, and the one we made a life in. I couldn’t ask for a better love story.

Rebecca Scha er and Peter Yeager

We met at Ledo’s, the first bar on our OSU senior bar crawl list. Flash forward 12 hours later at World of Beer, we bumped into each other again and he handed me a raw russet potato with his name and number written on it in Sharpie. Super weird and random but it did the trick. I called him my soul mate to his face that night. Last winter he took me around town. We stopped at both those bars, reminiscing about our time together. He asked me to be his wife in the middle of the same World of Beer where he gave me that first potato, hiding the ring in a large toy Mrs. Potato head. There’s no other way I would have liked the beginning of our story to go.

Victoria and Ryan Metzinger

I met my amazing husband in Columbus on a blind date set up by mutual friends (sounds very 1995, but it was actually 2011). He suggested a casual drink at Grandview Cafe and I upped the ante for dinner at Third & Hollywood. We continued to Spagio and ended at Grandview Cafe and the rest is history! Now, with two beautiful boys, our WiFi network will always be labeled “Third and Hollywood” as an ode to the perfect setting for a first date. We also visit the restaurant every year on our anniversary and it will never lose its luster.

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Arts & Culture

Elijah Banks brings his worldview back to Columbus through new album

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Near the end of “Tunes in My Room,” a song by local rapper Elijah Banks, samples of a affirmations from social media personality Amber Wagner kick in. “You are still surrounded by an abundance of love, you have joy around you, God is with you,” Wagner passionately evokes. “You gon’ be alright.” Though Banks proclaims sophomore album Spin as a love story, much like Wagner’s declaration, through nine tracks filled with soulful aptitude, Banks finds that self-love is the ultimate destination.

“On my first album [Progress, Not Perfection], I wanted to show people all the different routes that I could take,” Banks said. “Over time, I’ve realized that my true roots lie in what makes people feel good, [which is] self-love; that’s what this album is about. When you start loving yourself, you are forced to recognize and notice what isn’t for you.”

Born into a military family, Banks drew different perspectives of music through his upbringing in Germany, New Jersey and Atlanta before ultimately settling in Ohio. Being in the midst of trap-rap culture during his time in Atlanta, he says that if you’re looking for hollow autotuned rap, Spin probably won’t be the ideal soundscape. In fact, not fitting into mainstream standards is helping Banks weed out who his music isn’t for.

“At first, I wanted to aim for a more pop-driven record that could get lots of spins on radio and push myself out more in a regional manner,” he said. “Each song showcases a situation right before it spins out of control.”

Yet, Spin doesn’t sound as chaotic as Banks seems to lead on. In fact, it’s quite relatable, with intricate spoken word amidst a gentle piano (“Kev’s Interlude”), the all-too- common frustrations of working a full-time gig (“4 AM”), and anxiously wading through mall crowds (“Zooming Thru”). With an emotive songwriting process, Banks shares that his ideas are often spur-of-the-moment and generally based on production.

“Sometimes I’ll roll through 20 to 30 beats a day until I find one that matches my mood. Once I choose the beat that I like, I generally work on the rhythm and tones that I want to get across. Then, the focus on the lyrics comes,” Banks says. “I try to talk through relatable subjects with a pop culture modern twist. If you listen to “Zooming Thru,” the song is about my card getting declined at a high fashion store. I like to play with eye catching themes and turn them into great songs.”

While a remainder of songs that didn’t make the cut on Spin will be featured on an impending project titled Elijah Banks & Friends, the rapper values collaborating with fellow Columbus-based artists to stay grounded. Part of 14-member collective Rawest4mation, a group of artists that uplift community arts culture, Banks aspires to one day run an indie label.

With a structural team in place, Banks credits Spin executive producer Kevin Kesicki with piano instrumentation and the cohesive flow of the album, alongside DJ B Redi, Banks’ official DJ. With plans of one day throwing niche cultural events, Banks hopes to eventually test his walk on the runway, having previously modeled for local streetwear brand Good Behavior. Nearly two years after making a splash at Breakaway Festival, Banks is preparing to showcase his diverse instrumentation and creative material at his next show on Valentine’s Day in New York City, backed by his band The Balance. Though his music is leading Banks to spaces outside of Columbus, he says that these performances would be nearly impossible without hometown support.

“I asked myself at the end of last year what [2020] holds for me,” he said. “Many people say [Columbus doesn’t] have talent but honestly, I truly believe you have everything you need for the things to bubble, minus one thing: We need to cross support and take our consumers seriously.”

Though 2020 has just started, with an intentional feel-good sound on Spin, Banks has his sights set on finishing the year more consistent than he’s begun. It’ll be exciting to hear.

Elijah Banks’ music is available on Spotify. Follow him on Twitter @elijahwonbanks and Instagram @elijahbanksmusic.

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