Ashlee Decker is hoping Tiffin will eat local at her new business, The Beehive Caf.
Located in the Laird Arcade Building, the caf is to serve salads, soups and sandwiches depending on seasonal availability and is to use produce from local farms that use chemical-free methods.
The caf’s name stemmed from her goal of uniting the community under a healthier mindset.
“I’m an ecologist, so I look to nature for my answers,” she said. “Individual bees go out and gather nectar for the good of the entire hive; they are working for one common goal.”
Decker said she grew up in Tiffin, but lived in Cincinnati before moving back to Tiffin less than a year ago.
“My family’s here,” she said. “I think living in a bigger city, I was always looking for a community and a place to fit in. It took me 17 years to realize the place that I left was the place I was looking for. Tiffin has a very strong community.”
About five years ago, Decker joined a community-supported agriculture group in Cincinnati. In a CSA, a member buys a share of a farm and, during the season, the farm distributes a share of its produce to CSA members weekly, Decker said.
While she was part of the CSA, Decker said she found she liked the taste of farm-fresh food better.
In partnership with local farms, she said she is looking for staple foods such as bread, produce and fruits, along with the possibility of meats and cheeses.
Decker is getting in touch with local growers, including Riehm’s Farm, which runs a CSA.
She said she hopes more people join the CSA to support local agriculture.
“This is building a culture around it,” she said. “It can’t be just one, it has to be all of us working together.”
With the caf, Decker said she hopes to spread the idea of community-supported agriculture to local farmers and residents.
She also hopes to make people more aware of the benefits of locally produced foods and inspire other restaurants to use local sources.
“Knowing your farmer ensures the quality of the food and the growing practices,” Decker said. “This is a movement about the health of individuals, the environment and the community.”
Decker said she thinks her business will complement growth in Tiffin. She said she thinks Tiffin is ready for a homegrown, organic restaurant.
“It is really exciting to be a part of a growing downtown,” she said. “I am happy to be working alongside so many great new businesses.”