Renewable Energy at the Lakeland Local Market

Perhaps you remember one of my previous posts, There’s a New Market in Town.  Today our local paper ran a story about John Prim’s family businesses, Diversified Renewable Concepts and  Hawt Dawg Motorbikes.  John is VP of the Green Group at Lakeland Community College and assistant Market Master of  the Friday Lakeland Outdoor Market.  My husband, Dana, is the Market Master and he was also interviewed for the story.  If you go to the on-line edition there is a nice video of John, Dana and Brandon Smith of Sand Farm


It’s a renewable spirit for Willoughby brothers

Published: Sunday, August 22, 2010, Lake County News-Herald.

Story by Janet Podolak
Photos by Michael Allen Blair/

Full story and video at:

Diversified Renewable Concepts founder John Prim, known as Papa by his sons, rides a Hawt Dawg Motorbike along Stevens Boulevard near his home in Willoughby. The gas powered bike has a two-cycle 49cc engine that boasts up to 150 miles per gallon.

If necessity is truly the mother of invention, the unemployed status of John Prim Jr. and his brother, Joe, may well prove to be one of the best things that ever happened to both men.

It’s given them both empathy for others in their same situation and the time to become entrepreneurs in the area of finding solutions.

“Papa,” said John Jr., 42, referring to his father, “began Diversified Renewable Concepts in December, and I’m working to prove myself so hopefully he’ll hire me.”

Since being laid off from his job last year, John Jr. has been studying at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland to earn an associate’s degree in engineering.

Being unemployed has given him the free time this summer to help his father develop a build-it-yourself solar-energy device, called Solar Pax, and to assist his brother in creating a motorized bicycle that will get 150 to 200 miles per gallon of gas.

 Papa, known by others as John Prim, is a “jack of all trades,” according to his son, and is employed full time in building maintenance for a company in Solon.

“We’re Croatian,” Prim says by way of explanation for calling his father Papa. “And being self-sustaining is part of our heritage.”

Being good to the Earth, recycling and making things do double duty have long been an old-country tradition that has gained a new credibility in these times of economic downturn, unemployment, and seeing the excesses and waste of recent years with new eyes. Suddenly it’s smart to be “green.”

John Prim of Willoughby is reflected in a porta pax solar panel unit offered by his father John’s company Diversified Renewable Concepts. The design is avilable as a $20 download online at and the company also offers the patent pending fully assembled units for sale.

John Prim of Willoughby whips up a solar-powered smoothie at the Lakeland Local Market. Prim is donating a portion of the proceeds from the smoothies at the September TGIFest to Into the Light Walk, a suicide Prevention Education Alliance.

Dana Kennedy, [my hubby] market master for the Lakeland Local Market, the Friday-morning market in the Lakeland Community College parking lot, is another unemployed adult taking college classes as a means to reinvent himself.

The idea of being self-sustaining or green resonates with him and a group of other students.

“John Prim (Jr.) is one of the founding members of our Green Group project, which began the market,” he said. “His solar units are helping to power our vendors on site.”

Kennedy said the Lakeland Local Market was established in the spring by a group of students who met in a Lakeland business class and organized it with help from Lisa Lewin, an associate professor of business.

“We have the market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each Friday so as not to conflict with Mentor’s Old Village Market, which also is on Fridays,” Kennedy said. “Some of our vendors leave early and go out the Garfield Road entrance to set up at the Old Village Market at the James A. Garfield home.”

The Lakeland market, however, is planned to run until October with a greater participation by students once classes are back in session next month.

The solar packs the Prims have developed allow for SAND Farm’s participation in the Lakeland Market, Kennedy said.

Brandon Smith, who has 70 head of longhorn beef cattle at his family farm in Ashtabula County, has the meat he raises processed and frozen locally and sells it at the Lakeland market as well as at the Geauga Freshmarket, which takes place Saturday mornings at South Russell Village Hall.

“The solar power works great to power my freezers,” said Smith.

Brandon A. Smith of Andover powers up his freezer with a solar-charged battery at the Lakeland Local Market. SAND is short for sustainable Agricultural Natural Diversified Farm.

“I have power for the Geauga market, but I wouldn’t be able to be here at all without the Solar Pax. I hope to get some larger ones to use at home in case of power failures.”

Smith is clearly on the same “green” page as that of the market’s mission. The name of his farm is an acronym for Sustainable Agricultural Natural Diversified farm.

Because it got a late start, the Lakeland market is not as large as some of the others in the area, but it has a prime location within sight of busy Route 306 and some unusual features, such as solar power-made smoothies and certified organic produce.

It’s one of the few area markets to which the Painesville-based Western Reserve Food Co-op brings its certified organic produce, and it also has participation from Razo Farm, Hispanic growers who bring cilantro, tomatillos and other ingredients for typical Mexican dishes to market.

Prim has set up one of his smaller solar power kits to show market goers how it powers the blender in which the fruit smoothies are made. He’s also taken the solar kits — and the smoothies — to the Saturday-morning outdoor market in downtown Willoughby.

“We’ve applied for a patent and will be selling the solar power kits online,” he said.

The plans for building them can be downloaded for free, and Papa stars in a short instructional video at that shows how it’s done.

“The smaller kit is very portable and can get you through a blackout,” Prim said.

He said it’s very easy to put together, and he figures it would be a great project for school or scout groups and for families.

It’s built with plastic PVC piping to hold the solar panel and connects to a battery that stores the power.

“The panel we use is very shade-tolerant, but here in Northeast Ohio it might take two days to power up the small unit,” Prim said. “It costs about $300 for those who assemble it themselves, but the government lets you knock one-third of that off your taxes.”

Details of that tax break, which continues until 2016, are on the website.

A larger unit, which could augment power and reduce utility bills for homeowners, costs about $550 to get up and running.

“But you get money back at tax time, so it’s really worth considering,” he said.

A pair of motorbikes that are the brainchild of Joe Prim are also under the umbrella of Diversified Renewable Concepts.

“Last year Joe went to motorcycle school and came up with the engine kits,” the younger John Prim explained.

The family has submitted the needed paperwork to the Ohio Department of Transportation and is in the process of having the bikes declared legal mopeds for use on the roads.

“We’ll be the only dealer in the area,” Prim said. “Harley started with a motorized bicycle, and the concept is still a good one.

“One (the Tailchaser) has a two-cycle engine and gets 150 miles to the gallon, while the other (the Bone Chomper) has a four-cycle engine and gets 200 miles to the gallon. Both can be built from kits or we offer assembly services.”

Visit for more information.

The men bring the motorbikes to the Lakeland market on Fridays and the Saturday Morning Outdoor Market in Willoughby.

But they aren’t operable at either market.

“They have no gas in them,” Prim said. “Having them riding around at a farmers market would be a definite liability issue.”


About SallyK

A little blog about the ordinary and not so ordinary things our family does, places we travel, things we see. Like travel, cooking, family stories, book reviews, music? You will find it all here - comments welcome!
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One Response to Renewable Energy at the Lakeland Local Market

  1. Christina Cronk says:

    Wow, I would LOVE one of those motorbikes. Thanks for posting this 🙂

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