The Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan, in its sixth year, is available to Ohio-based farmers and agriculture-related businesses with up to 50 employees.Read More
From the region of Burgundy, France, to the leadership sessions of AgriPOWER, a dream has come to fruition through strong connections, hard work and a flair for pastry creation in Troy, Ohio.
J.D. Winteregg and Seth Middleton met as participants in AgriPOWER Class VIII in 2017. At the time, Winteregg was a merchandising manager at Rudy, Inc., a grain elevator in Covington, and Middleton, who farms with his family in Shelby County, worked off the farm for Heartland Bank.
Winteregg studied abroad in France on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree from Ohio Wesleyan University in French and international business, a master’s in foreign language education from Wright State, and a master’s in French from Ohio State University. After graduating, he returned to France and taught English for a year, and began a lifelong love affair with crêpes in the process.
“Every morning on the way to school when I was walking to work, I would get a pain au chocolat, which was like a chocolate croissant, and then every night I’d get a crêpe,” Winteregg said about his time living in France. “I just missed all that (back home). I could never find it all in one spot. So the idea was that we put it all in one spot.”
Winteregg and Middleton stayed close since that AgriPOWER class, as have many of the other participants from that year, and would bounce ideas off one another often. During the early days of the pandemic, there was a lot of time to “bounce.”
“Seth and I had been talking during COVID because, you know, everyone had a little downtime and came up with the idea of seeing if we could put this in practice, the whole idea of selling crêpes,” he said “So we got a crêpe maker, an individual one and set up at a place downtown called Pop Up.”
On that first go-around the duo had a two-hour line out the door.
“So we bought another crêpe maker, but we had the same problem,” he said. “So we bought two more and then figured out a way to manage the flow. We thought,’you know, we have something here that could earn some money. Let’s see what we can do.’”
Oh Crêpe opened at a brick and mortar location in Troy in 2022. Sweet and savory crêpes are signature items, and as much food as possible is sourced from farmers in and around the area.
“Being in Troy, Miami County, we kind of look at it as the gateway to farmland and the entry point into Dayton,” Winteregg said. “It’s been really neat being here because we’ve been able to work with a lot of local farmers. It’s all locally sourced, as much as we can.”
One example is first generation farmer Connor Haren and Haren’s Market in Troy.
“He has his own farm and we use their bacon, so we’re trying to incorporate as much as we can from what I learned from Farm Bureau,” Winteregg said.
Winteregg no longer works at the grain elevator in Covington, having moved onto work as a program manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, but what he learned in AgriPOWER has stayed with him, both in leadership positions at his “day job” and as a new small business owner.
“As a small business owner, there’s a lot of regulations. You feel like you’re always breaking some rule,” Winteregg said, with a laugh. “Trying to figure out how to navigate that, again, I point to AgriPOWER and Farm Bureau. Having the opportunity to work with legislators really showed me the importance of communicating with them and that’s helped considerably – reaching out and developing a relationship with them.”
Relationship building has been key to the friendship between Winteregg and Middleton. In addition to co-owning Oh Crêpe with Winteregg, Middleton is also a commercial lender at Minster Bank and farms with his parents in Sidney. He is also past president of Shelby County Farm Bureau.
During planting season Winteregg brought his family to Middleton’s farm and the families, with six young children between them, got to know each other a little better.
“J.D got to bring his son and daughters up to the farm,” Middleton said. “They were able to ride on the tractor for the first time and we planted some crops this spring. That family collaboration is really what drives us in our business process and creating a fun, family-oriented business.”
Oh Crêpe wants to be a hub where people and groups in the community can come to bond and buoy partnerships and exchange ideas. It hosts local events, and also has a French Night every other week, where Winteregg, local French teachers and more come to enjoy speaking and learning French.
“It’s that French philosophy, that slogan of ‘Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood’ and brotherhood is huge,” Winteregg said. “We want to support anything people want to do, offer the space
for them and see how we can build that community here.”
It is not unlike the sense of community and purpose that has been derived from the Ohio Farm Bureau AgriPOWER leadership program.
“AgriPOWER, in my opinion, was by far one of the best leadership programs that I’ve ever been a part of, whether it’s been professionally or from a Farm Bureau standpoint,” Middleton said. “It was just so immensely educational, and it created a lot of opportunities for me to learn a lot of different aspects of not only grassroots for the Farm Bureau, but for the business side of things, to learn how to be successful outside of your standard (day) job. Oh Crêpe has created a neat aspect for me to work with J.D. and take those lessons learned and put them into motion.”
Perhaps it is time once again for a larger conversation about farmland preservation in our state, as each acre taken jeopardizes future food production and food security for our nation.Read More