Urban Farms Encourage Education in the Community
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is working on a grant for more trash. Or technically, food waste. The urban farm, located at the intersection of Smith and Fay Streets -- behind Columbia College -- uses food waste in a compost pile to enrich the soil. The more nutrients in the soil, the better the produce. The farm yields all different kind of vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and swiss chard.
The not-for-profit farm currently has only 6 cubic yards of compost a week. The farmers hope to increase this by four or five times. With one and a third acres of farming land, the farmers need a lot of compost. The farm is able to run on private donations and sales from the produce the farmers grow. The farm land is rented out by Mark Stevens, REMI, for $1 a year and a basket of veggies.
There are about 7 workers at the farm on a daily basis, who work about 40 to 60 hours a week. Their mission for the almost all organic farm, is to “educate the children, different schools, and the community about different options people have for planting, growing, and buying local produce,” says urban farmer, and one of three founders, Bobby Johnson.
Johnson says there are ways to make your own compost pile and contribute from your own home. “You can create a compost bin out of chicken wire. Just throw your food scraps in at the end of the day.”
The urban farm is also working on a project called opportunity gardens. Workers and volunteers build and plant free gardens for schools and low income families.
“Most kids have never been to a farm before, or don’t know what a carrot looks like after it’s been picked out of the ground,” explains Johnson.
The farm is open on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 to 8 pm to sell the produce they grow. They also welcome volunteers.