Urban Fruit and Vegetable Production and Marketing Tour, Columbus

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mike Hogan is stoked, really stoked, about urban farming in Columbus.

He hopes to share that excitement in the second annual Columbus Urban Farm Tour Series, which starts at the end of July.

“We’re seeing amazing community support for urban farmers,” said Hogan, who’s a co-organizer of the series and an agriculture and natural resources educator in the Franklin County office of Ohio State University Extension.

“When consumers find out what these farmers are doing, they’re all-in,” he said. “And these urban farmers are some of the coolest, most out-of-the-box thinkers and innovators I’ve worked with in 29 years.”

Hogan’s employer, OSU Extension, is part of The Ohio State University and its College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Extension’s Franklin County office, for its part, is sponsoring the series together with the Columbus Urban Farmers Network.

Secret's out: These farms are hot

“Many Columbus residents don’t even know these farms exist, the scope of the operations, or that they’re growing a large variety of high-value crops, such as mushrooms, ginger and heirloom vegetables,” Hogan said.

The series, he said, aims to change that.

Tour stops will be at Franklinton Gardens, Clarfield Farm, the Italian Village Urban Farm and the Franklin Park Conservatory’s Scotts Miracle-Gro Company Community Garden Campus, all in Columbus, and at the Weurfulville Suburban Farmstead in Canal Winchester.

The Franklinton Gardens tour, for instance, on July 30, will show the farm’s fruit trees, high tunnels, raspberry patch, microgreens grow room, community garden and neighborhood produce stand.

At Clarfield Farm, three high tunnels produce fresh fruits and vegetables 12 months a year, an achievement in Ohio. The harvest is sold to restaurants, at farmers markets and at a food-desert-fighting, food-security-boosting, pay-what-you-can neighborhood farm stand. That tour is Aug. 6.

The other tours are on Aug. 7, 13 and 14. All the dates are Saturdays or Sundays. All the tours are free. There’s no need to sign up ahead of time.

Series has 5 free farm tours

The lineup for the series:

  • Urban Fruit and Vegetable Production and Marketing Tour, 2 to 4 p.m. July 30 at Franklinton Gardens, 909 W. Rich St., Columbus.
  • Large-Scale Urban Farm Tour, 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at Clarfield Farm, 3220 Groveport Road, Columbus.
  • Multi-Location, Mission-Driven Urban Farm Tour, 1 to 2 p.m. Aug. 7 at the Italian Village Urban Farm, 701 N. 4th St., Columbus.
  • Demonstration Food Garden Tour, 10 a.m. to noon Aug. 13 at the Scotts Miracle-Gro Community Garden Campus at the Franklin Park Conservatory, 1777 E. Broad St., Columbus.
  • Suburban Homestead Tour, 2 to 4 p.m. Aug. 14 at Weurfulville Suburban Farmstead, 7051 Weurful Drive, Canal Winchester.

“We’re seeing tremendous growth in urban farming right now,” said Hogan, who’s also a member of the college’s Sustainable Agriculture Team. “There are 15 urban farms in Columbus today. There were only five just two years ago.”

Food security, quality of life

Driving that growth are several factors, he said, one being Columbus’s commitment to raising food security in food-insecure neighborhoods.

Another is the growing demand by restaurants and consumers for hyper-local foods — foods grown not just somewhat close by but right in a buyer’s neighborhood.

A third, he said, is the “recognition by government that food and agriculture can be both a source of development and a quality-of-life issue for urban residents.”

Directions, contact people and other details are at go.osu.edu/2016ColumbusUrbanFarms.

For more information, contact Hogan at 614-866-6900 or hogan.1@osu.edu.