Since childhood, Walter Bonham has always wanted to grow his own food. He has been able to do just that through his company called The Food Lab as well as his work on his micro-farm at the NECIC urban farm. “The purpose of The Food Lab is to build, grow, and feed,” Walter said.
Walter is one of three urban farmers contributing to the Bowman Street property. The Richland GrowOp, formed in 2018, is a larger collaboration of nine businesses that includes the three micro-farms at the NECIC Urban Farm, the Stanfield micro urban farm on West Fourth Street, and five rural farmers.
“Right now, our biggest thing is establishing our market, building our brand, and learning to become better farmers,” he said of the cooperative. “There have been so many new things that we’ve learned to grow, so it’s those niche things you can’t go to the auction and pay a dollar a pound for. It’s all been so new for us. A bunch of us are taking on new crops we haven’t grown before, but most of us are getting hands-on training.”
“You can never go wrong with learning how to feed yourself and picking up these skills,” Bonham said. “Also, one thing about having this urban farm is that it introduces kids to the farming scene and growing scene. It goes beyond farming; it can get kids interested in soil science, botany, or food management. I think that’s one of the cool aspects of what we’re doing here; we’re bringing awareness to more things, not only farming, but agriculture as a whole.”
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