Last year, Lia Crosby ’13 and Shane Richmond ’13 had an idea to get nutritious food at affordable prices to low-income families in Newark, Ohio.
Last summer, with the advice and help of Chris Ramsey, self-appointed social-consciousness-raiser/entrepreneur and owner of Newark’s Sparta restaurant, they started Project Main Street Grows, a local CSA (community-supported agriculture) that hired 15 area teens to help the couple grow vegetables on a single acre, sell the produce for income, and provide fresh food to Sparta.
Now Crosby and Richmond have a chance to expand their successful program, and they’re looking for some help.
The Licking County Parks District has a 160-acre farm with water, electricity and outbuildings, which they are willing to lease at a minimal rent. In response to this extraordinary opportunity, the couple has set up a Kickstarter account to raise $30,000 for their new nonprofit, Anything Grows Locally, with a goal of organically farming 5 acres and pasturing chickens on 10 more acres, utilizing the help of local teens from at-risk environments.
The Park Service also will work with them to create education programs about different gardening models and raising poultry, and even add trails to the wooded areas. The couple hopes to eventually convert the remaining acres to chemical-free farming over four years.
The $30,000 will help Anything Grows to purchase irrigation supplies, seeds and plant starts, organic fertilizers, and lots of tools.
“We’re so committed to making this project work,” says Richmond. “This 160 acres will change the landscape of local food in Newark, and with the help of the community, we will create a replicable model for local food production in low-income areas.”
To give Anything Grows a head start, Denison classmate Travis DeFraites ’13 created the video for their Kickstarter site. DeFraites works with students at Newark High School to teach them basic film techniques to create their own movies as part of his job as videographer for Project Main Street.