Tue April 27, 2010
Feed Dayton's Urban Farming Project
Feed Dayton's Urban Farming Program began to form several years ago. It started with some test gardens that began as a way to support a local food ministry.
Ken Carmen, founder of Feed Dayton, says he learned a lot from those first test gardens. Growing up, he also learned a lot from his mom, an avid gardener. So planting and growing has been life long pursuits. That helps with the mission of Feed Dayton.
Their latest project is a 6000 square foot lot on E. Fifth Street. It's not easy to spot, but once you find it, the sight is impressive.
"We've incorporated wide beds of about four feet in width in two different section running about 50 feet in each direction," says Carmen. "Each of these beds will contain different crops."
Those crops include kale, collards, tomatos and onions. Carmen says their success in the urban farming project will come by using the abundant resources in the area. Utilizing donations of horse manure, wood chips, leaves and other materials will keep operating cost extremely low, and the output high. Volunteers and partnerships with other organizations are also key.
Treva Jenkins owns Breaking Ground, a landscape, design and build company. Once she saw the project, she was on board.
"I've not seen an urban garden that looks like this. It's totally a piece of art. That inspired me," says Jenkins. "I think his aspiration to provide food for the community in this way was such a vision and an aspiration and such a much-needed resource that he drew me in pretty readily. So I'm very happy to be a part of it, very happy to support this effort, and we just hope that we can continue to grow it and make it be a much more viable program for the entire city."
Jenkins and Carmen both see the Fifth Street garden as a learning tool for the community, an example of how urban farming can aid a city in need. Urban farming is seen as a common sense solution to maintaining the growing number of vacant lots in the city.
With talk of targeting city fence lines to grow pole beans and sugar snap peas, and the expansion of urban farming overall, Carmen's ambitions to Feed Dayton are innovative and ambitious - but he seems up to the challenge.
"I think that's what it takes to make something like successful," says Carmen. "We live in a convenient space society, and what we're trying to demonstrate is that you have to make gardening more convenient as well or it's never really going to take hold the same way it was in the past."