Many parts of North Carolina are known for beautiful, sprawling farm land that brings food to family tables across the community and country, but there are also a number of innovative urban farms working on just a few acres of land in the heart of Raleigh.
On the #Road2FarmAid, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Raleigh’s finest urban agriculture – Raleigh City Farm and the Inter-faith Food Shuttle Farm. Both of these new projects broke ground within the last three years and have worked to bring wholesome, local produce to Raleigh-based restaurants, markets, and even food banks.
At the Raleigh City Farm, CEO and president Chris Rumbley oversees an operation nestled between bars and coffee shops. A few years ago, the plot was rundown and abandoned, making it a useless eyesore for local residents. Now, in just three years, Rumbley and a group of local farmers have brought new life to the space and the surrounding community, growing cherries, blueberries, sunflowers and heirloom bean varieties. The operation has expanded quickly, making $15,000 last fall and now $20,000 this July alone.
|The Raleigh City Farm, located at 800 Blount St, Raleigh, NC|
The farm also boasts a hydroponic greenhouse with 10,000 organic plants. From here, Raleigh City Farm harvests about 300 pounds of lettuce a week. Most produce from Raleigh City Farm makes its way to local restaurants, and some is sold at their farm stand on Saturdays or the City Farmers Market on Wednesdays.
|CEO and President Chris Rumbley with Raleigh City Farm’s blueberries|
Rumbley says he hopes to show the Raleigh community that they have a role in building and maintaining local infrastructure by supporting Raleigh-based agriculture. He encourages the community to frequent restaurants that source local produce, while also taking steps to buy their own from farm stands and farmers markets.
|Raleigh City Farm may be small, but it’s full of good food!|
A second urban farm on the stop may be new to its site, but its has years of experience aiding the Raleigh community.
The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has been feeding the hungry for 25 years, but recently started a venture to provide local produce for food banks while also teaching members of the community how to grow and sell their own crops. The non-profit broke ground on this site about two years ago and has been a great teaching tool for the community. Most food banks provide day old baked goods and processed foods to those in need, but few can afford to supply fresh vegetables. At this farm, interns learn to grow on site, and can even receive a grant for innovative ideas.
|Sun Butler at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s greenhouse|
With urban locations, soil pollution can be a significant obstacle. Before they could grow fruits and vegetables, the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle had to grown their own dirt. To do so, they started their own composting program on site, digging worm beds a foot underground to find a constant temperature and grow worms year round. They built their own greenhouse and have provided both education to young farmers and good food to the hungry.
These organizations have both shown the value of local farms – even in areas where you wouldn’t expect to find one. They’re examples of innovation and a commitment to healthy, local foods for all.