October 28, 2011 - 12:00pm eastern
Presentation given by:
Christopher Choi, USEPA & Jim Rocco, Vita Nuova LLC
Whether to help address community challenges such as vacant properties, food deserts, neighborhood crime, and unemployment rates, or just to better connect residents with what they put on their plates, interest in building farms as part of the urban landscape is growing. The idea is simple enough: taking vacant or underused lots to grow healthy food. Therefore, it is not surprising that this concept has appeal to a diverse range individuals and organizations with farming knowledge, skills and experience, or a lack of them, to match.
While urban farms may share the basic process requirements of traditional agriculture, there are also many elements that are unique to urbanized areas that will require attention such as local zoning, neighborhood crime, utility access, and storage/refrigeration space. Individuals and organizations will improve their ability to establish a successful, economically sustainable urban farm if these and other issues are acknowledged and planned for up front.
Through funding from U.S. EPA's Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, EPA Region 5, along with Vita Nuova and SRA International, worked with Toledo CDC, Lucas County Improvement Corporation, and other local partners to facilitate the redevelopment of a 2-acre brownfield site into the Fernwood Growing Center. The Fernwood Growing Center's goal was to reclaim a vacant parcel of land, and turn it into productive use by providing a source of and educating the local population on fresh fruits and vegetables. To help the Fernwood Growing Center realize their goal, we help them develop a business plan to guide the process and cost of starting it up and maintaining it.
The Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook provides a framework for any organization or community interested in developing an urban farm to help address neighborhood blight, food access, or community development challenges on brownfields or vacant sites. The handbook provides guidance on how to assemble marketing, operating, and financial strategies to communicate your urban farm project to potential partners and funders along with worksheets to help identify and address the issues important to the development of these strategies.