Co-op People

Janet Bowers

Trufflemaker

For years, Janet Bowers would make truffles as gifts for friends and colleagues, but, she says, “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could do it professionally.” After all, she already had a full-time job as a practicing psychologist. 

Bowers, a member of South Central Power Company, grew up in Chillicothe and went on to work for the National Park Service and as a schoolteacher before deciding to earn her doctorate in clinical and forensic psychology.

Joe Lockhart

Iron man

A woman who had purchased a skillet from Lockhart Ironworks recently asked Doug Lockhart if he could add a helper handle to her cookware. The veteran blacksmith, a South Central Power Company member, gladly obliged.

Lockhart’s shop sits amid 83 acres of woods and fields on his farmstead, 10 miles northeast of Logan. He and his wife, Berta, live in an 1824 log farmhouse; keep ducks and goats for eggs, meat, and milk; raise some hay; and harvest their trees for lumber that they cut in the farm’s sawmill.

Bob Jenkins and Sam Gross

First Flight

Josh Maihle of Columbus still remembers the first airplane ride he ever took. “I remember I was just 6 years old and riding in the backseat of a small, yellow private plane,” says Maihle.

Bob and his wife, Jill — members of Consolidated Cooperative in north-central Ohio — own two small, vintage aircraft. “We own a 1947 Cessna 120 and a 1946 Piper J-3 Cub,” says Bob. “I also co-own a 1972 Cessna 172 with my son, Shawn.”

Jenkins has been flying for more than 50 years, ever since his father taught him to fly. He made his first solo flight at age 16 and earned his private pilot’s license in his early 20s.  

Nancy Crow

Star quilter

Nancy Crow’s quilts hang in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Folk Art. They’ve been on exhibit in China, England, France, and other countries. Some of her quilts even appear on the covers of two of Maya Angelou’s books.

Surprisingly, for a fabric artist as accomplished as Crow is, she did not learn to sew when she was young. She became an avid knitter in high school, but didn’t create any fabric art until she took a course in tapestry weaving at Ohio State University. Her BFA and MFA degrees from the university were focused on ceramics art.

Dawn and Carson Combs

Healthy innovation

At first glance, the interior of Soda Pharm looks like your typical coffeehouse: exposed brick wall, comfy chairs and couches that welcome lingering stays, and a variety of chalkboards displaying the seasonal menu and

Welcome to Soda Pharm, where the old-fashioned pharmacy soda fountain concept is reborn — this time with the modern twist of innovative self-care through functional food and natural medicinal herbs. 

Pumpkin variety

Smashing pumpkins

For only the fourth time in its more than century-long history, there will be no Circleville Pumpkin Show this year — yet another scheduling casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No one is more disappointed than Jack Pine. 

Born in rural Tarlton in southern Ohio, Pine began studying glass-blowing decades ago in Seattle, Washington, and says he’s still perfecting the process to this day at his studio in Laurelville, where he’s a member of South Central Power Company. “I knew I was in love with glass-blowing from the start, as it involves everything I enjoy as an artist,” Pine says. “It’s a mystical medium, and I was drawn to it immediately. You take a glob of hot, molten glass from the furnace and turn it into a gorgeous work of art — that initial experience was magical to me and continues to be.” 

Tom Graham with pigs

YouTube sensations

The sign posted outside the biosecure barn where Tom Graham raises some 2,400 pigs at a time says “NO ENTRY.” Nonetheless, Graham has given tours of his wean-to-finish operation at Oaklawn Farm to hundreds of children in grades K–12. How does he do it?

“We used to bring in busloads of kids, but after we got a biosecure barn, there wasn’t much they could see,” says Graham. He built the facility in 2004 in order to raise gilts and barrows on a contractual basis for Johnstown-based Heimerl Farms. The arrangement not only frees Graham from worries about market fluctuations but also furnishes income that has helped his close-knit family remain on their farm. “I always tell people my wife teaches at Zanesville High School so I can keep farming,” he says with a grin. 

Man holding puppy

Training K-9

Al Gill believes well-trained German shepherds can mean the difference between life and death in many law enforcement situations.

The property is now home to a world-class training facility as well as housing units for male and female officers who come from across the country to participate in academy classes. There is also a kennel that can accommodate 60 adult dogs as part of the business’ breeding operation.

Indian Creek Distillery

American spirits

On a splendid day in May when bright sunshine bathes Ohio and seems to portend progress against the coronavirus, Missy Duer arranges bottles of whiskey in the antique-laden tasting room at Indian Creek Distillery.

“This farm has always been the hub of my family’s life,” says Missy. “I grew up two minutes away and loved coming here as a girl. Now my grandchildren represent the farm’s eighth generation of Staleys, and they love it, too.” 

Roger Trump with airplane

Crop duster

Roger Trump, owner of Trump Aviation Inc. in rural Darke County, expects to be busy this year doing his part to support agriculture from high above farm fields.

“Some people mistakenly think flying across the sky and then swooping down over fields to deliver the payload is romantic or glamorous,” he says. “It’s grueling work, and the most important part is bringing the plane home in one piece. There is never an end to routine maintenance.”