As longtime readers of this blog are probably aware, we used to raise chickens. LOTS of chickens, at least as far as urban, backyard flocks go. We had a laying flock of about 75-150, with plans to have about 300, and at our most productive, I was taking about 100 broilers to the processor every two weeks. We sold meat and eggs at farmers markets, from our home, made home deliveries in the area, supplied Two Caterers and Red Snapper, and for a little while, even sold through Celebrate Local at Easton. Customers were happy, urban homesteaders were getting inspired, life was good.
And then our birds got stolen, along with a bunch of other stuff. To put a stop to that, I fixed up the old house on the land where I’d had the chickens, and my family and I moved in. But by the time we did so, the county changed the zoning rules and said we can’t have more than 24 chickens unless we have more than five acres. If we have more than five acres, they can’t say anything about it, as state law would exempt us from local regulation.
We wanted to buy the vacant lot next to ours, but we couldn’t locate the deceased owner’s next-of-kin. Eventually, I applied to have the county land bank take control of that lot. They cleaned it up, and two years after my initial application, they offered to sell it to us. During the time we were waiting, however, someone else told the land bank they were interested in that lot, too, so the land bank has invited us to submit an offer. We’re trying to get all our supporters to chip in, both to raise more money than we personally could offer, and to demonstrate to the land bank that there’s wide community support for us farming the vacant land.
Since this is a new beginning for our farm, I’m changing the name from Frijolito Farm to Woodland Urban Farm. “Frijolito” is a little bean. That was appropriate when we were just a quarter-acre and a few small gardens scattered around Columbus, but I think we’ve outgrown the name now that we’re looking at growing to almost seven acres. My vision for Woodland Urban Farm is to grow food, sell it along with handicrafts year-round at an on-site market, and offer meeting space for classes, workshops, and discussion groups for those interested in sustainable living and connecting with nature. If you want to be a part of this, please visit our Indiegogo site and contribute. If you’re not in a position to offer money, please share the link and encourage others to do so. Also, contact Curtiss Williams, Vice President of The Land Reutilization Corporation of Franklin County (614-525-4938), and let him know that you want Wayne Shingler to farm the vacant lot on Woodland Avenue, especially if you live in central Ohio. And to those who’ve so generously contributed already, thank you. We’ll receive the money a couple weeks after the end of the campaign, and I’ll send out your “perks” after that.