Farm Fresh

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By Andrea Cordle
Westside Editor

It can be a challenge to eat healthy. It can be even more of a challenge for low-income individuals.

The city of Columbus and the Mid-Ohio Foodbank are working together to make access to healthy, fresh food a little easier.

Urban Farms of Central Ohio, a subsidiary of the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, plans to lease five acres of land on the Hilltop from the city’s Land Bank to create an urban farm. The farm will be located on North Wheatland Avenue, off of West Broad Street.

The Hilltop property is currently vacant.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman asked city council to approve legislation that would allow the foodbank to lease the land for $100 a year, for five years.

“I salute Mid-Ohio Foodbank for continuing to build upon farms in our neighborhoods that provide our residents with increased access to healthy foods,” said Coleman. “This initiative not only helps us build healthier communities, but it also allows our residents to engage in the process.”

An urban farm is a relatively new initiative from the foodbank. It is designed to transform vacant properties in underserved neighborhoods into a productive, sustainable urban farm that would provide fresh, local and healthy produce to low-income families.

“The mission of the urban farm is to use underutilized property and build a communal place that is a point of pride for the community,” said Yolanda Owens, communications manager for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

Matt Habash, president and CEO of the foodbank said, “Partnerships with local neighbors to grow fresh food presents a dual opportunity toward creating a healthier, hunger-free community. It allows our hungry neighbors to be part of a community that grows nutrient-dense food for themselves, while at the same time, revitalizing areas that otherwise may remain vacant.”

The foodbank plans to prepare the land this spring and start farming early this summer. The Hilltop farm will offer squash, beans and other crops this year.

According to Owens, the site will include a farm stand where produce would be sold on a sliding fee scale. Interested residents could also volunteer to harvest the produce, then take home the items.

“Anyone can struggle with hunger,” said Owens. “This will offer a place of access.”

The Wheatland site will be the second urban farm in Columbus. The first farm is located along Groveport Road in Marion-Franklin.

“We are happy to be on the westside,” said Owens. “We had our facility on the westside for many years and it has always been near and dear to us.”

The foodbank is now located in Grove City.

To learn more about urban farms or to volunteer, visit www.midohiofoodbank.org.

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