Franklinton Gardens Awarded USDA Grant to Expand Healthy Food Access
Franklinton Gardens, a 2.5-acre urban farm in the West Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus, Ohio that spans 12 production sites has been awarded a three-year $135,010 United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] National Institute for Food and Agriculture [NIFA] Community Food Projects Competitive Grant. Franklinton Gardens’ Unearthing Franklinton’s Potential: Cultivating a Vibrant Foodscape will improve healthy food
access and strengthen community self-reliance through three programs:
- Expansion of a neighborhood-based Community Supported Agriculture [CSA] program that provides 20 weeks of affordable Franklinton Gardens produce to low-income residents
- Provide cooking classes and nutrition, food processing, and leadership workshops to Franklinton residents in partnership with Local Matters, Mount Carmel Healthy Living Center, and St. John’s Episcopal Church
- Promote participation in local, state, and federal programs that incentivize farmers market and healthy food purchases
FIC member Nick Stanich, Executive Director of Franklinton Gardens and lead investigator states, “We are excited to build on the existing assets and resources in our community to improve community food security in Franklinton. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to annually grow thousands of pounds of vegetables and fruits and amazing community partners to help us address food insecurity and health in our neighborhood.”
The USDA NIFA Community Food Projects [CFP] Program awards grants through a competitive application and review process. CFP grants are intended to improve food access for low-income individuals, increase self-reliance of communities to provide for community food needs, and promote comprehensive responses to local food access, farm, and nutrition issues. Around 18% of applications have been funded.
Franklinton Gardens started in 2007 as a community garden and now produces over 10,000 pounds of produce per year. Their mission is to grow food, create beauty, and build community. They grow a variety of greens, annual vegetables, perennial fruits, and microgreens on vacant lots, in backyards of existing houses throughout the West Franklinton neighborhood. Franklinton Gardens currently sells their produce at the Franklinton Produce Market (1003 West Town Street) on Tuesdays from 3-7 pm and at the North Market Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 8-1. They anticipate that they will sell at the Worthington Winter Farmers Market on Saturdays beginning in November. Franklinton Gardens currently has a neighborhood-based 28-member CSA program, a mobile market, and allows customers to use SNAP/EBT to make purchases. They also participate in several federal farmers’ markets incentive programs and donate some of their produce to neighborhood feeding programs, faith groups, and agencies in the community.
Stanich co-wrote the grant with Franklinton Gardens Board Member and Ohio State University College of Social Work Assistant Professor and FIC member, Michelle Kaiser, who will assist with evaluation. Kaiser leads an interdisciplinary Food Mapping Team at Ohio State with several community partners. Their research shows that 50% of people interviewed in zipcodes 43222 and 43223 (which includes Franklinton) had some indication of food insecurity over the last year, even though 70% of people surveyed in those zip codes had someone working in the house full-time and 42% had someone working in the house part-time. Feeding America estimates that 17.9% of Franklin County households are food insecure (http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-inamerica/our-research/map-the-meal-gap/2014/OH_AllCounties_CDs_MMG_2014.pdf), which means that household members may skip meals, reduce dietary quality and variety, eat less, or rely on a number of strategies like visiting food pantries and eating community meals in order to meet their household’s dietary needs.