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From scratch: Building a food business and a supportive place to call home

Chef, farmer, writer and owner of Midge's Kitchen in Wheeling, West Virginia

I’m excited to invite you to my conversation with Melissa Rebholz, a chef, farmer and the passionate driving force behind Midge’s Kitchen in Wheeling, West Virginia.

Melissa from our visit back in 2015

I initially connected with Melissa back in 2015 when she was farming solo in the rural Appalachian town of Greenville, Tennessee. Several years before I visited, Melissa had left NYC to learn to farm. She moved around to different farm jobs, including a stint in California working for Green String farm.

The cost of living in California, paired with her desire to be closer to her family in upstate New York inspired her move to Tennessee to run a non-profit farm. Several years after I visited Melissa in Greenville, she had to leave the home and farm she had built to remove herself from an abusive relationship and start from scratch.

The inner strength Melissa has harnessed to break free from that toxic relationship and start anew is inspiring. I hope anyone feeling trapped in an unsupportive relationship will feel empowered by her journey. If you or someone you know needs support or assistance leaving an abusive relationship, here is a list of organizations who can help:

Melissa has moved several times since leaving Tennessee and planted roots in Wheeling at the beginning of the pandemic. The pandemic made Melissa realize that she needed to stop postponing her dreams and go after them. There is no sense waiting for the perfect time, because there is no such thing as perfect timing. Melissa left her job and enrolled in a small business incubator program so that she could put together a plan and finally build her own food related business. She encourages anyone wanting to start a small business to listen to their own community's wants and needs because the ultimate goal of any small business is fix a problem or fill a hole in local offerings.

Melissa's garden she built alongside her apartment rental in Wheeling

Melissa is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to growing food, farming, building a community in a new place and making the most of what you have. Melissa has built kitchen gardens at nearly every property she has rented. She shares her excess with her neighbors and community members, which has been an excellent way to make friends.

I encourage anyone living in Wheeling or passing through to place an order or stop by Midge's Kitchen. The food Melissa makes is beautiful, seasonal, and absolutely delicious. You can also become a member of Melissa's Patreon to get seasonal recipes and other goodies delivered several times a month.

I also encourage anyone interested in starting a business in a small town to search for free training and mentorship programs. Here is a link to Co.Starters that Melissa used to build her business:

The Small Business Association also has free resources for budding entrepreneurs.

Thank you Melissa for sharing your story with us!


• Facebook @midgeskitchen


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