Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mild Summer Weather Impacts Yield

The UC urban farm is rolling through the summer making tremendous progress. We've established a routine for caring for the farm and bringing our produce to market at the Green Corner in Pleasant Ridge as well as the Northside Farmers Market. In many ways, we've entered the long haul of the farming process... watering, weeding, tending, and production. Its gratifying to witness such tremendous progress in such a short time. Its been an interesting summer time weather pattern - to say the least. Mild temperatures, overcast skys, and regular rain have dramatically reduced typical farm yields throughout July and into early August. None the less, we are moving ahead with the preparation of autumn crops in our green house. Seedlings have been started, and fields have been prepared for autumn planting. As we transition from the summertime highs of August to the beginnings of autumn in September, the farm will begin the transformation for winter. We've started plans for autumn visits from schools and for farming exhibits for our Westwood neighbors. At this mid point, its fair to say that the City of Cincinnati Urban Farming initiative has been a rousing success, and that the UC urban farm is a pioneering leader in how to move rapidly from an empty field to a productive farm in a period of just a few months. Its said that the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step... and the farm has taken a very successful first step.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Greenhouse Goes Up and First Profits Roll In!

Its been a productive week for the UC Urban Farm. Teams of volunteers are constructing our hoop house (green house), and even more exciting we participated in our first farmers market on Wednesday, July 8, 2009 in the Northside neighborhood. Our first customer was Mark. He was very pleased to hear that UC had started an urban farm project. Kudos to everyone for great work! David is doing a great job organizing the green house, and Debbie was very proud of everyone when we counted up the first days earning of $43.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Progress with Infrastucture

Here are some more photos of the farm, including the newly roofed and painted shed, security lights, the site of the future farm stand and the graded area for the hoop house.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Amazing Progress in June

I've been away working in Tanzania, and when I returned I visited the UC Urban Farm. What a transformation! In just a couple of weeks, the piles of mulch have been spread around the site. The crops have grown by leaps and bounds. Materials for the hoop house have arrived and are being assembled, and we are ready to move forward with the green roof on top of our store. We're just waiting for the solar panels and wind mill to arrive to provide on-site electricity. Its very, very exciting! Schedules have been made for regular volunteer opportunities. Please contact us if you'd like to participate in the farm. All the best.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ahead of Our Times in Cincinnati

The City of Cincinnati isn't always known for being ahead of the times... For example, Mark Twain once remarked, "When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always twenty years behind the times." Imagine when watching the evening NBC nightly news to witness a story about urban farming, and how urban farm programs across the country are positively impacting neighborhoods. Imagine that the City of Cincinnati and the University are early adopters of this trend. Imagine that the Civic Garden Center has a long and storied history of encouraging gardening throughout the City. This is a very exciting project, and its gratifying to be part of a progressive movement to improve access to healthy, whole foods in Cincinnati.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Planting Complete - Now the Growing is in Full Swing

Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31, teams of volunteers worked hard on the farm to get the last of our plants in the ground. We have tomatoes, peppers, herbs, sunflowers, beans, and other assorted goodies enjoying the sun and rain of late May/early June. The 'barn' received much needed shelves today. Signs were placed around the site, and construction of the 'store' is well underway. We've ordered a windmill and photovoltaic panels to provide DC power (with AC available through an inverter). And the community garden plots have been subleased to neighbors who will begin planting in the next week. We've also recruited students from Western Hills Design Tech as well as students from the Summer Academy at the University of Cincinnati to work on the farm this summer. Finally, we've ordered a remote web cam that should arrive in the next couple of weeks. This system will allow anyone to watch the farm 24/7/365 - if you look closely enough you can actually see the plants grow!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Planting is Well Underway

Thanks to all those who helped out on Saturday, May 16 and Saturday, May 23 for two solid weeks of planting. We've secured a water storage tank that has been placed onsite. The seedlings that were growing in the Biology Department Greenhouse have been transplanted. And a chicken wire fence has been constructed to keep out rabbits and raccoons. Four of the six community plots have been leased by local neighbors. Overall, the UC Urban Farm is really starting to take shape. In the next few weeks, we anticipate installation of solar power as well as a hoop house (green house) and a storefront for selling produce. Members of the greater UC community and neighbors are encouraged to stop by for a visit.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Successful Barnraising Attended by 20+ Supporters

More than twenty administrators, faculty, students, friends, and family met from noon until 6pm at the UC Urban Farm. Three large raised beds were constructed and six community garden plots were created. In the coming weeks, ten additional beds will be created from an innovative process using biodegradable plastic as a means of drip irrigation. While some workers created a large sign for the property, others began construction on a tool shed, and still others spent the day hauling mulch, top soil, and stones. In the evening, a cookout was enjoyed by all. Special thanks to Stephanie McBride and Larry Johnson for their 'above-and-beyond' contributions to the cookout.

Cincinnati Urban Farm Efforts Highlighted in Enquirer Articles

Cincinnati Enquirer reporters for local government, Jane Prendergast, and food, Polly Campbell, have recently highlighted efforts within the City of Cincinnati to provide fresh, whole foods for local consumption. The effort, known as urban farming (or urban gardening) is loosely based upon the successful program developed by Will Allen in Milwaukee and his not-for-profit, Growing Power. In particular, the article by Campbell discusses collaborations between farmers and local restaurants to bring produce from the urban field to the dinner table.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Barn raising" on Saturday, May 9

The UC Urban Farm is hosting a work day and social on the farm on Saturday, May 9. We'll be hauling mulch, tilling soil, barn raising (constructing a shed) and other fun from Noon until 4pm. We'll enjoy a cook out from 4-6pm. Please RSVP to debbie.moll at so that we can maintain a headcount. We look forward to seeing you on Saturday!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Celebrating a successful cleanup on Saturday, April 25

About thirty students, staff, and faculty from UC were on-hand from 9am through noon on Saturday, April 25 as part of the Great American Clean Up sponsored by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. Major accomplishments included: collection of old tires, recyclable and disposable trash, clearing of brush, collecting stones, and trimming weeds and grasses. To finish the event, we enjoyed a lunch of locally purchased pizza from Scarlatto's on McHenry... sure to become a tradition for those working at the site. Current plans are to meet at the site for a picnic on Saturday, May 9 and for a planting party on Saturday, May 23. For more details about upcoming events, please contact debbie.moll at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Westwood Embraces the UC Urban Farm

At the monthly meeting of the Westwood Civic Association, Dan Oerther provided an overview of the UC Urban Farm program to an audience of approximately 50 community members. In general, the audience was very excited about the idea of UC's work in the neighborhood. Questions were fielded about the ability of local organizations to work on the site (e.g., schools for field trips, and neighbors to cultivate 10x10 or 5x5 personal plots), the plans for security (i.e., would UC install a fence?), and the positive feelings about community engagement (e.g., a community meeting would be welcomed). The presentation and Q&A lasted for approximately 20 minutes as part of the regularly scheduled monthly meeting. Contact information was left, and many in the audience indicated their willingness to help with communication throughout the community.

Planting Seeds!

Its real! On Tuesday morning, April 21 a team of urban farmers met in the UC greenhouse located on the roof of Rievschel Hall to plant 450 seeds. Gwen, Debbie, Joel, Joan, and Dan planted egg plant, tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and a number of other vegetables. The current plan is to cultivate these seeds in the greenhouse, and to transplant them to the farm in the middle of May.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Press Coverage for UC's Urban Farm in the News Record

The UC Urban Farm program was highlighted in a front page article by Taylor Dungjen in the Monday, April 20, 2009 issue of The News Record. Taylor reported that the farm will be hosting a cleanup event as part of the Great American Cleanup from 9am until Noon on Saturday, April 25, 2009. Please meet us at the site - 2291 Westwood Northern Blvd - or send an email to Shawn Tubb at if you need help coordinating a ride from campus.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Summary of Lecture by Will Allen at UK in Lexington, KY

A team from the UC Urban Farm visited Lexington, KY to listen to a talk by Will Allen, a recent MacArthur Genius award winner, who founded and operates the Milwaukee-based NGO Growing Power. Some important take-home lessons from the talk (in no particular order): (1) engage the community to improve appreciation for nature and to ensure security of the garden - kids working in the garden won't be likely to damage the garden; (2) focus on the finances - a garden needs to produce $5/yr per square foot to become a viable economic enterprise; (3) soil, soil, soil is the key - compost production on-site is a must; (4) sustainable water resources are identified where they are available; (5) raised beds are built on 6-12 inches of wood chips covered with 2 ft of composted soil. Mr. Allen's presentation was lively and filled with photographs and anectdotes of his adventures as a gardener. Its clear that he has a vast practical knowledge of successful urban gardening. In the future, it would be appropriate (and useful) for a team from the UC Urban Farm to participate in a workshop sponsored by Growing Power.

Job Opportunities for Students

With financial support from the National Science Foundation, the UC Urban Farm is pleased to offer employment opportunities to two students for part-time status during the Spring 2009 term and full-time coop status during the Summer 2009 term. For more information, check out details of the job posting.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome to the University of Cincinnati Urban Farm Blog

As part of the Green Cincinnati Plan, in 2009 the City of Cincinnati initiated an Urban Farm Program. The purpose of this program is to convert vacant lots owned by the City into pilot urban farms. Teams of citizens and community groups participated in a competitive process that led to the selection of nine teams working on ten lots distributed throughout the City of Cincinnati. One team, led by the University of Cincinnati, was selected to manage the largest lot located at 2291 Westwood Northern Blvd. Faculty, students, and administrative staff from the University are working together to design and implement an urban farm on 1.25 acres. Initially the team divided into three working groups focused on steering, infrastructure, and operations. If all goes well, we plan to host our first community charrette on Saturday, April 18; we will take rental ownership on Wednesday, April 23; and teams of UC affiliates and community members will begin to clean up the site on Saturday, April 25 as part of the Great American Cleanup organized locally by Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. If you are interested in learning more about our program, please contact us at