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Farming in the City

July 23, 2012

The concept of urban farming is being explored from New York City rooftops to inner city acreage in Atlanta. When I visited an Atlanta market last February I was asked if we had any farms within the Huntington city limits and I said no. But I was wrong!

BethAnn Earl is the energy behind Noni’s Farm, a one acre parcel of land on a ridge in the Harveytown area of Huntington. Originally farmed by her husband’s great-grandfather, BethAnn joined Scott there when they married about a year ago.

BethAnn grew up in Columbus but moved to Huntington in 5th grade. Her family moved back to Columbus after her first year of high school, so it was very sweet when she returned for a reunion and rekindled her old flame with Scott. She was still in the Navy at that time, stationed in St. Louis and they met often in Louisville to rebuild their friendship. She retired from the service and happily made the move to Huntington.

She started a small garden for the family, and then heard that the Wild Ramp would be opening this summer and decided to double the garden  and turn it into a business. Her desire to grow food is new found and often confusing. “I didn’t even see peas in the pod until I was 21,” she said. “Peas came in cans.” Now she grows peas, as well as beans, radishes, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, peppers, as well as cilantro, chives, onions, melons, and more! All that in 40feet by 40 feet of space.

They have corn in another garden across the road and plan to install a high tunnel to enable cold weather cultivation. Another plot of land near the original farmhouse is available but is mostly clay and the soil needs to be prepared to be productive. She needs compost for that as well as some additional equipment.

She has used some MiracleGro to prepare her garden soil and then some Sevin to dust her seedlings but does not use any chemicals after that and especially never when there is any fruit growing.

A new shed is being built to house a small flock of chickens. Besides providing enough eggs for the family, BethAnn plans to have the chickens help clear the garden space as the season ends for the various crops.

She is expanding her education by reading a lot and speaking with other farmers. She is also eager to spend some time interning with a more seasoned farmer to help her education. Her hope is to be able to acquire more acreage and have her own farm in about five years. We will be eating her food for a long while.

By the way, tomorrow I will be posting photos of the vegetables from the Noni’s Farm garden. Please go to the blog and check out the photos and see how many you will be able to identify.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2012 7:26 pm

    Peas came in a can -funny and a little sad. We are working on getting our craigslist find up in the next month our two (a 40′ by 30′ commercial-grade greenhouse) and maybe one day we will be participating as a grower for more than just ourselves.

    • July 23, 2012 11:00 pm

      Unfortunately most adults do not know what plants look like that grow the produce they eat. And it is pretty sad how many cashiers at the supermarket need us to tell them what the produce is so they can find the right code.

  2. Debbie permalink
    July 25, 2012 2:03 am

    GOOD GRIEF!! There are so many people in the city limits that “farm”!!! I feel the wheel is being re-invented! This kinda thinking may turn off the REAL farmers out there and that will be a SHAME!

    • July 25, 2012 2:16 am

      NO way will small urban farms take the place of larger farms, but it is great that urban dwellers see the benefits of using available open space to produce something healthy!

  3. Debbie permalink
    July 25, 2012 2:25 am

    I know the Wild Ramp tries to seek out the BIG farmers in the area as well as the small farms. I am happy to see the small ones start to grow, but I like seeing the large ones continue to grow even though they may not be interested in the small markets.

    • July 25, 2012 1:11 pm

      There are several large farmers who have been instrumental in filling our shelves these first weeks. One of the issues the farmers had to consider before signing up as producer members of the Wild Ramp was if they could supply our market as well as any and all others they already had agreements with. Starting a market in the middle of a growing season can be an issue. Some small farmers were able to act on the concept we would be opening this summer when they planted this past spring. The larger farms are able to supply us as well as their other markets. We appreciate ALL our producers!

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