Trip to Cleveland and Akron Ohio, and Genesee, Pennsylvania June 19-21, 2006

Spent the day (June 20) marketing in the
Cleveland/Akron area. Cleveland looked like a great
area – somewhat like Minneapolis, with a somewhat
small “downtown” area of high rise buildings, and lots
of other small neighborhoods. Lots of trees and green
all around – I think I saw something that called it
the “forest city” or something like that. We went to
a couple food coops and several independent
natural/organic food stores, and always great to meet
independent business people making it in a world
dominated by industry giants.

There seemed to be little of the “wild salmon” mania
in Cleveland. Stores wanted to know if our fish was
“organic”, which of course it is not and will likely
never be. The ocean is not a controllable
environment. But in the purest, not regulatory, sense
of the word, wild salmon is what “organic” means. So,
the fact that some of our customers wanted our fish to
be “organic” led us to believe we needed to be
prepared to explain this in the future. And I think
we spurred some interest in the retailers to research
this on their own.

We arrived about midnight in my hometown of Bolivar,
NY, and the next day visited our distributor in
Genesee, PA, which is a few miles from Bolivar. We
had a great time with Diane as she showed Sara her
funky warehouse/retail area, and then took us to the
Environmental Center, where they are slowly building
awareness for recycling and environmental stewardship.
She and her husband Larry are inspiration to the
small natural foods/organic movement. She and Larry
started their business literally miles out a backroad
from a crossroads town in the Allegany mountains in
the mid-1970’s, and they are still here today. No
fancy storefront or advertising program or convenient
location. People come to them from 50 to 75 miles
away to buy organic and natural foods and have for
years. And they continue to move forward with the
Environmental Center. I think there’s a website or something like that that has
information on the song writer series that they host
at the center.

Spring and early summer has certainly hit the
northeast foothills of the Allegany Mountains – tree
branches flush with leaves crowd the road canopy,
nearly touching branches with trees from the other
side of the road. Lots of wild flowers in purple,
white and yellow butter cup colors. Things not seen
for years, like red-wing blackbirds, crickets and
wasps catch my eye. I also thought that after being
gone for 20+years, my home area is much the same as it
was when I left, with the forest apparently still in
tact, and no major industrial sprawl. As I commented
to Sara, it’s nice to live in an area where people buy
land because it’s valuable for deer hunting because
they aren’t looking to come and change things, but
keep things the way they are.

We also traveled by Alma Pond, a place I remember as a
wild place, and it remains much the same. My granddad
took me there fishing for bluegill with a bobber, and
I continued to fish there through my late teens,
graduating to a canoe fishing for bass with rubber
worms in the lilly pads on the far side of the pond.
I recall the spring splashing of carp spawning, and
the prehistoric call of the great blue herons that
live on the pond. A little wetlands where I used to
trap muskrat is still untouched in between Bolivar and
adjoining tiny community of Richburg, again a
condolence in a “progressive”, consumptive-driven
country, which does not exclude our hometown of Juneau.

Mark Stopha and Sara Hannan
Alaska Wild Salmon Company
Wild Salmon and Salmon Pet Treats
4455 N. Douglas Hwy
Juneau, AK 99801

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