Executive Director, Donita Anderson
Donita Anderson, Executive Director, conceptualized and co-founded the North Union Farmers Market. After moving to Greater Cleveland in 1985, Donita discovered a dearth of access to fresh and local foods. Educated as a biologist and a chef, Donita knew that local farms offering nutritious foods that are the freshest are the heart and soul of farmers’ markets. Additionally, they contribute to communities’ economic and cultural strength. These two guiding principles were the driving force for realizing the dream of a real farmers’ market in her adopted hometown of Cleveland.
Donita and a core group of like-minded citizens founded North Union Farmers Market, a 501(c)(3) non profit, with the pilot location opening in Shaker Square in July 1995. Mentored first by New York City’s Greenmarket and from 2001 on California Farmers Market Association. Her outreach continued at national conferences sponsored by the Networking Association for Farm Direct Marketing and Agritourism (NAFDMA) in California-winning Farmers Market Manager of the Year. In addition, Donita educated herself in governmental agricultural regulations in order to gain insight into regulatory and legislative issues for farmers. She has certified more than 200 farmers throughout the state of Ohio.
In 1998, Donita spearheaded the creation of farmer-training conferences, allowing farmers to invest in the marketing and business aspects of their farms. The conference, called A Time to Grow, now draws over 100 farmers annually to learn from nationally-recognized speakers.
With Donita at the helm, North Union now operates two indoor winter market and seven outdoor seasonal markets in Cleveland and surrounding areas, including two on the Cleveland Clinic campus. Ninety farmers and over 100 artisans and food purveyors participate in the markets, which attract over half a million people annually.
Since opening day at Shaker Square in 1995, Donita has helped incubate over 300 local businesses. Her efforts have helped keep millions of dollars in our local economy as well as save farms from destruction. In addition, North Union Farmers Markets offer communities a central location for neighbors to meet, musicians to perform and, most importantly, the opportunity for consumers to support locally-grown food producers.
Donita lives in Shaker Heights, where she raised her three children.
Some of the top awards Donita Anderson and North Union have received include:
- Voted "Best Farmers Market in Cleveland" by Cleveland Magazine
- Voted Top 20 Farmers Market by American Farmland Trust, 2009, 2010
- Farmers' Market Manager of the Year by the Networking Association for Farm Direct Marketing
- The Garden Club of America Civic Improvement Commendation, 2010