Urban farm tours in Columbus

When you think of farms, you might envision wide open grass lands, a tractor and grazing cows, pigs or horses. But did you know there are farms right here in urban Columbus?

Columbus was home to only five urban farms just three years ago. Now, there are 16 urban farms throughout the city, said Mike Hogan, an Ohio State University Extension agriculture and natural resources educator.

The public can tour five of these farms this summer. Sponsored by Franklin County OSU Extension and Columbus Urban Farmers Network, each tour offers a look at a different type of urban farm.

The Columbus Urban Farmers Network is comprised of urban farms and food producers who are striving to expand the local food system by producing food in urban areas of Columbus.

“The goal of the Columbus Urban Farm Tour Series is to educate consumers about different models of urban farming and allow them to see how urban farming can benefit neighborhoods and communities,” said Hogan.

The farm tours have been developed for Columbus residents to participate in and will be offered on Saturdays or Sundays this summer starting July 22. They include:

  • Converting Vacant Land Farm Tour, July 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Wheatland Farm, 116 N. Wheatland Ave. in Columbus.
  • Commercial Market Garden Tour, July 29 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Heirloom Produce, 7700 Richardson Rd. in Groveport.
  • Residential Permaculture and Food Garden Tour, Aug. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Sunny Glen Wellness, 3507 Sunny Glen Place in Columbus.
  • Productive Residential Urban Farm Tour, Aug. 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Over the Fence Urban Farm, 143 E. Dominion Blvd. in Columbus.
  • Suburban Farmstead and Micro Dairy Tour, Sept. 2 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Jedidiah Farm and Studio, 5058 Smothers Rd. in Westerville.

All the tours are free and open to the public.

“These five tours have been chosen to highlight different models and objectives of urban farms,” said Hogan. “The farm tours are also designed to allow existing urban farmers to learn from their peers.”

Converting Vacant Land Farm Tour

This tour focuses on turning vacant urban areas into productive, sustainable urban gardens that provide food-insecure residents more access to fresh, local produce.

Wheatland Farm operates on 1 acre of land at a former hospital site. The location has been repurposed to grow food through a large-scale raised bed growing system. The farm sells its crops to local restaurants and others to individuals who order them through a veggie box program in which produce is delivered to their home or to a local collection point. The funds the farm receives from those sales support a pay-what-you-can farm stand that provides low-income families with fresh produce.

Registration is encouraged. Email urbanfarms@midohiofoodbank.org.

Commercial Market Garden Tour

Heirloom Produce uses an approach called regenerative agriculture to produce food in a more sustainable way. The tour will show how a vegetable market garden relies on fewer synthetic inputs like fertilizer to maintain and improve soil health, and instead recycles organic matter through composting, cover crops and green manures.

Heirloom Produce is a large market garden consisting of 16,000 square feet of production space on a 2-acre residential lot. Root crops and leafy greens are marketed to restaurants and at several local farmers’ markets. The garden has a hoophouse to start seeds, chickens to build nutrient levels in the soil and is adding beehives this summer.

Residential Permaculture and Food Garden Tour

Permaculture refers to systems designed to work in concert with nature, including the use of perennial plants and design principles that are observed in natural ecosystems, Hogan said.

This tour will demonstrate how a low-cost, low-input food garden in the backyard of a home can easily be adapted to provide food for food-insecure families.

Participants will get to see a native plant and pollinator garden, a vegetable and herb permaculture garden, and a small in-home seedling operation and homemade cold frame to transition plants to the outdoors.

Productive Residential Urban Farm Tour

This tour will allow residents to see how Over the Fence Urban Farm uses different growing techniques in various types of garden spaces, such as vertical gardening and permaculture design.

Over the Fence Urban Farm focuses on sharing sustainability techniques for growing food that is fresh and locally harvested. The farm is funded through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program, and family, friends and neighbors help tend the land.

Suburban Farmstead and Micro Dairy Tour

This tour will focus on the use of dairy goats, honeybees, poultry and hogs for pasture rehabilitation, and will discuss the importance of using native plants to create self-supporting systems.

Jedidiah Farm and Studio is a 5-acre farm in Westerville, where the Taylor family utilizes a food production system that relies on natural systems as opposed to monocultures systems such as corn, soybeans, or other row crops. Visitors can expect to see a space that has transitioned from a typical suburban lawn to perennial food forests, guilds, woodlands and pasture.

Full descriptions of each farm and tour can be found here: go.osu.edu/UrbanFarmTour17.

For more information about the Columbus Urban Farm Tour Series, contact Hogan at 614-866-6900 or hogan.1@osu.edu.

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