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Check Out Tiffany Tomeo’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffany Tomeo. 

Hi Tiffany, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Growing up among the hills of rural Indiana gave me endless opportunities to be immersed in nature. I was interested in growing things and almost always had a small garden of my own. I’ve loved learning about plants, trees, and our natural ecosystems. I’m fascinated by the ways plants both connect and enrich our lives and environments. 

I’ve also been very entrepreneurial my entire life, from selling sandwiches to my father’s co-workers as a child to owning several small businesses out of my home throughout the years. I’ve worked with the OFF Market here in Cincinnati for the last 9 years, first as a vintage vendor and then as one of the organizers. It’s satisfying and always interesting when you work with creative entrepreneurs. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
My path to being a farmers market manager has been very winding. It’s not a job I would have ever considered until it came up right in front of me. What I have found is that all of the things I’ve done before have prepared me for this industry. 

Owning a wedding cake business in my early twenties taught me about costs and profits, as well as working with clients. When I was selling vintage online, I learned a lot about marketing and customer reach. Working alongside other entrepreneurs through the OFF Market introduced me to organizing events and gave me the opportunity to work with people doing a wide range of other things, helping me to understand the challenges other businesses face. The many years I worked in a small coffee shop instilled in me a passion for all things local. 

I’ve worked in the small business industry for years, both owning my own businesses and working for others. When you strike out on your own there isn’t a safety net; either you figure out how to make it work or it doesn’t! When I look back at the things, I’ve done over the years that I’m no longer involved with, I can now see how each one provided me with different skills and strengths. At the time, when I was in the midst of the struggles, all I could see was failure. 

In our home we have a saying, “You’re in the middle of the wedding cake,” which means that right now you’re in a challenging place and things look ugly like they’ll never turn out right. But if you press on with what you need to do, you’ll end up with something beautiful. It’s a reminder not to quit. 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My job is always interesting! No two weeks are the same. As a market manager, my job involves a wide range of tasks. I spend time getting to know about farming, agriculture, and the food chain, as well as a wide variety of small businesses. 

Some weeks we may have larger events that are coordinated as part of the farmers market, such as a kid’s market or a blood drive. I do farm and site visits to learn about our vendors and ensure the highest level of integrity at our market. I also write content for marketing and our website. 

My favorite part of what I do is getting to know our vendors. The entrepreneurial world is made up of fascinating, passionate people and I love being able to talk to them and build relationships. 

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Over the last few years, the country has faced a huge amount of instability, especially in our food chain. When you add to this a growing concern and awareness over climate change, it is really causing people to wake up and take notice of their part in these things. People are increasingly becoming invested in ways they can make positive change. Knowing where your food comes from, and finding ways to ensure stability in our local food economies, are both ways we can make a positive impact. A farmers market allows you to connect with the people who produce your food. Local, smaller businesses and farms have the ability to pivot more quickly to address needs in the community. We will continue to see people place priority on the markets and farms they have in their communities. 

Despite the growing awareness people have about the value of small farms, we have a quickly growing need for new farmers. Many small farms are owned and run by older generations, and there are less young people who are going into agriculture. If this doesn’t begin to change, we will see more and more closures of these vital, small farms. 

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