Peninsula's Crooked River Herb Farm heads to that pretty town square in the sky


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“Recreational shopping” – wherein we spend a Saturday afternoon aimlessly wandering small-town streets, checking out the shoppes and picking up doodads we never knew we needed until that very moment -- just isn’t what it used to be. No time, no money, and – increasingly – no shoppes have pretty much wiped it off our schedule. We thought about that last Saturday when we took a quick spin around Medina’s pretty town square, once an eminently ramble-worthy destination lined with quaint little stores and shops. Not today. The chocolate shop, the miniatures store, the teddy bear biz – all gone; and as for the few that survive, checking them out barely used up an hour – hardly worth the price of gas to get there. Now, another of our favorite Saturday destinations is gone: Crooked River Herb Farm Shop, that friendly little repository of rustic gifts and goodies that has drawn us into Peninsula for the past 14 years. ... “It breaks my heart,” says farmer, former shopkeeper, and rural lifestyle booster Kathleen Varga. “But in this economy, we just couldn’t make it.” So no more sharing recipes and exchanging gardening tips with Varga, while stocking up on her herbal jellies, vinegars, and teas. No more scratching the ears of George Bailey, either: The store mascot and standard poodle is adjusting to life as a homebody. Still there is an upside to the demise of the bricks-and-mortar shop: It opens the way for Varga to concentrate on her website,, where her full line of herbal products are available for shipping. Plus, many of her products will find their way onto the shelves of “real” stores, including Freshway Market (1496 N. Portage Path, Akron), Yellow Creek Trading Company (1685 Main St., Peninsula), and Totally Cooked Market (2730 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls), which will also carry Lake Erie Creamery chevre. Fans also can sign up for Varga’s email newsletter by contacting her at It’s a poor substitute for chatting with the gregarious Varga in person, but at least the recipes and gardening tips are still there. --- Elaine T. Cicora Read Elaine Cicora's restaurant reviews, food news, and comprehensive dining guide on the restaurant page at



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