Franklinton Farms is far from your stereotypical farm. For one they farm in an urban setting rather than a rural one. For two they don’t have any big land plots. In fact, they farm 12 small plots of land that add up to just over 2.5 acres and produces over $50,000 worth of produce every year. With the 12 plots distributed throughout Columbus Ohio’s oldest neighborhoods providing unique challenges, unlike any other city.
Franklinton farms acquired their land through Columbus’s Land Redevelopment Division, who is tasked with acquiring and
repurposing forgotten and foreclosed properties in the city. Their Hawke’s avenue location will be completed as a learning garden later this year. Funded by the city and their Parcels to Places program, the space will be used to teach families and children about farming. Unlike their other locations, this one will not be focussed on production.
The expansion of their distributed farm has been made possible in part thanks to grants they have received over the past decade. Franklinton Farms most recently received a grant funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Community Food Projects grant program enabling them to pursue their three-year plan “Unearthing Franklinton’s Potential, Cultivating a Vibrant Food Landscape.
The grant was awarded to project focussed on meeting the food needs of low-income families and supporting neighborhood agriculture projects. Franklinton Farms was deservedly in the 18% of applicants that received grant funds. One of the ways Franklinton plans to serve its area is through an expansion of its CSA program which already is providing fresh produce to 40 individuals in the city.
By 2019 Franklinto Farms hopes to bring that number up to 75 members with about half of the shares subsidized for low-income residents. In addition to the produce in the CSA share, members will receive recipes to use their produce and an invite to a potluck dinner in the summer to make it more than just a box of food every week but a vehicle for community development.
It’s the organization’s hope that opportunities such as the subsidized CSA and their accepting of S.N.A.P. benefits at the farm that they can help to address the food insecurity in their neighborhood. In a recent study of the area, it was revealed that almost half of the residents experienced some type of food insecurity in the previous year.
Franklinton Farms is a model of how a few distributed farms or gardens, networked together, can have a real impact on food security in an urban environment. They may not have any one big farm but it doesn’t stop them from producing food like one for their community.