I am starting a project at the Southeast Regional Kitchen here in Hocking County that has the potential to impact many people in the Buckeye Hills region in a positive way. The Southeast Ohio Regional Kitchen is a part of HAPCAP(Hocking, Athens, Perry Community Action) and is also part of the Southeast Ohio Regional Food Bank. This Food Bank is the distribution hub for Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Morgan, Perry, Vinton and Washington counties.
In the ten county service area 1 in 6 individuals are considered food insecure including 1 in 4 children. Our aim in this project to try to improve on those numbers. In Hocking county we have many trees, but few food producing farms. My project is to partner with the SEO Regional Kitchen to start an urban farm on unused land on their grounds to grow our own food. My farming partner will be Sam Gress, Food Services Coordinator at the Kitchen. We will start by providing food for seniors in Hocking county using their federal Senior Farmer’s Market vouchers and then expand the farm.
To start the farm, we need to start growing something. Sam and I put in a perennial herb garden last week which once we finish our paperwork with the state, makes us farmers. We started with a weedy overgrown ornamental bed:
Phase I: Perennial herb garden
Cleared out the weeds and amended with compost
And then planted three flats of donated perennial herbs which can be sold or added to the commodity distributions or in the cooking/processing for meals on wheels. (Thanks to Rick Webb, Webb Perennials, Logan OH for the herbs and Athens-Hocking Recycling center Athens, OH for the mulch)
Phase II of the project will be started in fall of 2016 and will be the addition to six raised beds to start vegetable production.
Phase III of the project tentatively scheduled for 2018 is the addition of more raised beds and a possible hoop house/high tunnel for seed propagation and season extension.
We hope to expand distribution to other counties in the future. The Buckeye Hills counties that are served by the SEO Regional Kitchen are Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Morgan, Perry and Washington.