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Springfield Ohio Urban Plantfolk Get A Big Boost With Federal Grant

Springfield Ohio Urban Plantfolk Coordinator Sherry Chen at the non-profit's farm in South Springfield.
Chris Welter
/
WYSO
Springfield Ohio Urban Plantfolk Coordinator Sherry Chen at the non-profit's farm in South Springfield.

A non-profit that runs an urban farm in South Springfield just got a big boost thanks to a Community Food Projects grant from the federal government.

The nonprofit is called SOUP—for Springfield Ohio Urban Plantfolk. SOUP grows their produce on rented land, and then sells it at a discount at their local farm stands throughout South Springfield.

The $400,000 grant is going towards buying the land, which is currently owned by a local church, and to expand the operation into the McCain Acres Urban Agricultural Center. SOUP will also increase distribution by putting up another farm stand in Springfield.

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Chris Welter
A view of the garden area on the farm during a rainy October day. SOUP Coordinator Sherry Chen said that longtime South Springfield locals say the property has been green space for as long as they can remember.

Partners like Central State University Extension and the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions will help too. Community Solutions will act as a land trust for SOUP by owning the property and providing administrative support. Experts from Central State will provide consultations and they will teach classes once the home on the property is is turned into an education center.

Sherry Chen, the Coordinator of SOUP, said that currently about 0.5 acres of the farm are used as a garden for growing food. With the grant, the garden will double in size—Chen said that she hopes to add cut flowers and more fruit. The grant will also support an existing apiary run by a neighborhood beekeeper.

The apiary at SOUP's farm on McCain Avenue in Springfield
Chris Welter
The apiary at SOUP's farm on McCain Avenue in Springfield

Chen hopes to add chickens and livestock eventually as well.

“It's really just taking everything that we already had a little tiny foot in and just growing it." Chen said, "Oh, it's just a godsend. It really is. And it's so timely, so timely right now for South Springfield.”

Chen says food insecurity is an urgent issue in South Springfield. Especially since the Kroger on Limestone Street closed earlier this year.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.