“To be interested in food, but not in food production is clearly absurd.”Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming & Food
At Freshtown Farm, we believe that soil health is the foundation for low impact farming and efficient small acreage production. We never use any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides. We do use aged compost, organic soil amendments, compost tea, and cover crops that are foundational to long-term soil fertility and health.
We try to keep our environmental impact and our overhead costs low. We work mostly with hand tools and move a lot of material with pitchforks, wheelbarrows, and our small pickup trucks. We incorporate flowering plants and herbs in our fields to attract pollinators and create habitat for beneficial insects and birds.
We believe that practicing regenerative agriculture, preserving regional foodways, and saving & sharing seeds are important for our collective future.
How did we get here? Small farmers across the country are struggling to make a living, even as the demand for organic and local foods grows. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, most small vegetable farms generate less than 3% of their household income from the farm (2017). In 2008, the average hourly wage for owners operating a small mixed vegetable farm in the midwest was $4.96 (Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems).
Farms, seed companies, and farm supply stores continue to consolidate or disappear. There are more than 14 million acres in farmland in Ohio, but vegetable growers comprise less than 1% of all of that farmland!
We believe that it should be possible to make a living on a small farm. We have a long-term goal of fair share farming (a term coined by one of our farming (s)heros, Elizabeth Henderson).
To be a fair share farm– and as indicators of our overall farm health– we think about equity:
- to the earth by practicing regenerative methods
- to the owner-shareholder-investor (this is you!)
- to our neighbors who cannot afford to own some of the farm, even though we grow in their communities
- to the farmers by setting a small, but fair wage with possibility of saving for retirement.
Farms and partners
Freshtown Farm has the pleasure of partnering with and being supported by many local organizations and incredible community members who have given us space to grow!
The City and County Land Bank offered us our first opportunity by allowing us to rent the Ann St farm. Ann St provided us with many of our first urban farming lessons; the deeper things like communicating with our neighbors and following through with our commitments as well as the superficial things, like obtaining city permits, working with contractors and maintaining our water lines.
The Bread of Life Mission and Art’s Place on Maize have given us the space to expand and deepen our ties to the communities in which we grow.
We have been incredibly fortunate to receive grant funds from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank and the USDA for our initial start-up in 2018 and 2019.