US (OH): Micro-farm at OSU could help feed residents

Tyler Arter is a local guy who now holds the first new job created by a promising food production experiment at the Ohio State University-Mansfield campus.

The extensive experiment is a micro-farm built last year in a campus parking lot. Arter, 23, manages 10 interns who care for and harvest a variety of vegetables produced there.

If the experiment is successful, it could become a model for similar micro-farms located in urban areas of Mansfield. These operations could provide food, jobs and a contribution to a new food system for the city.

The micro-farm consists of two plastic high tunnel hoop houses and an array of outdoor raised beds. It is the brainchild of Kip Curtis, a OSU-Mansfield assistant professor of environmental history. The lot containing the environmental experiment is where North Central State College once held its rib cook-off fundraiser. Curtis said micro-farms can be located on plots as small as one-third of an acre.

The vegetable-producing operation has been funded this far by a $160,000 grant from OSU. There are additional grants pending totaling from $1.5 to $2 million. Most of the vegetables produced thus far have been used by food service at the campus, but success will hinge on selling to retail or wholesale customers.

Curtis said the plan is for the micro-farm to pay for itself in five to seven years. The long-range plan for locating micro-farms in urban neighborhoods of Mansfield is already being worked on.

Read more at the Mansfield News Journal (Tom Brennan)

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