Jeni's Backyard Mint Fest
Jorgensen Farms to host inaugural festival
Central Ohio residents will have an opportunity to see where the mint for Jeni's Ice Cream is grown, watch how it's made and taste some, too.
The inaugural Jeni's Backyard Mint Fest is scheduled for 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, at Jorgensen Farms, 5851 E. Walnut St., in Westerville.
The farm is part of Gahanna's Herbal Trail, linking culinary, gardening, shopping, wellness and environment-friendly points of interest.
Jorgensen Farms is Gahanna's official farm of the Herbal Trail, as well as the supplier of mint for all Jeni's Ice Cream products.
Owner Val Jorgensen said this is the eighth year she has grown mint for the ice cream business that requires as much as 90 pounds of peppermint leaves each week.
The festival, which includes Jeni's ice cream, horse-drawn carriage rides, farm tours, a petting zoo and other family-friendly activities, costs $10 for children and $15 per adult. Tickets may be purchased online at jorgensen-farms.com.
Jorgensen's relationship with Gahanna, the herb capital of Ohio, started many years ago, thanks to Bunnie Geroux, director of the Ohio Herb Education Foundation.
Jorgensen hosted meetings of the Rosemary Group, now the Gahanna Herb Society, at the farm. The group's purpose is to promote the knowledge of herbs, such as their culture, history and uses.
Jorgensen since has dedicated a year-round greenhouse to Gahanna, called the "Rosemary House," as rosemary is the official herb of Gahanna.
Karen Eylon, director of the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau, said one of the pieces of the puzzle, from an herbal-destination standpoint, is an opportunity for people to truly experience all that occurs on a farm as it relates to herbs and sustainable living.
"Although we have beautiful herb gardens in Gahanna, we couldn't necessarily take it to the next level," she said. "People don't get a chance to experience that holistic life that's there. There are so many ways she's touching and educating people."
Eylon said rosemary signifies friendship, and the Rosemary House shows Jorgensen's passion for the Gahanna community, as well as the community's feelings toward her.
"Part of what makes it so amazing is her depth of experience -- being a registered nurse, her commitment to wellness and her expertise on passive solar greenhouses," she said. "It's an honor to have her want to partner with us."
Eylon said she always considers destination marketing and wants to tell everyone about the farm.
"What a treasure in central Ohio," she said. "It's amazing. Val is a subject-matter expert."
Jorgensen was looking for 5 acres to raise her four young sons in 1992, when they moved to the 65-acre farm.
"I'm doing what I believe in, and I'm doing what I enjoy," she said.
Jorgensen Farms supplies a select group of area restaurants with organic herbs and vegetables, honeycomb and grass-fed beef and lamb while also inviting guests to participate in farm-related events and workshops.
Jorgensen also sends more than 60 pounds of freshly picked basil to the Clintonville farmers market every week.
Since March 2011, she has served Sunday suppers every third Sunday of the month, from March through December. The menu is inspired by the day's harvest and prepared on site by professional chefs.
Jorgensen also offers the farm as a venue for such events as weddings and graduations.
"Anyone can rent space for the day," she said. "Often that involves food. They can harvest food to be prepared."
The farm has been certified organic for the past 10 years.
"Organic is a way of growing food for people and animals without the use of synthetics and pesticides," Jorgensen said. "There's a heavy use of pesticides traditionally in farming. Organic growing is also without weed killers. We use organic plant-based products. We pull a lot of weeds. We use straw mulch to prevent weeds. We also use plastic."
When Jorgensen started growing food for her family, she said, she didn't think she should spray.
"I knew it could likely be toxic for our bodies," Jorgensen said.
She said the most popular event at the farm is August's Italian Sunflower Supper, served amid the sunflower fields. The Aug. 19 supper was a sellout with 170 guests.
"That's very special," Jorgensen said. "My dream would be to have that supper in the field and tell people if they can pay, pay, and if they can't, don't. That would be something."
Jorgensen said she's grateful for the land that is in her care and she strives to provide the highest-quality food, fiber and herbal products to the people of central Ohio.
Herbal Trail farm tours are available by reservation through the GCVB's website at visitgahanna.com or by calling 614-418-9114.