FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) People in Fort Wayne will soon have more opportunities to buy local. The city is planning on converting some land into its first official urban farm. Depending on how it goes, more farms could follow.
The city started planning last November, partly after a group representing Burmese farmers proposed something similar on that site.
The 26 acre spot on the south side has sat vacant for years. The city-owned land is in the middle of houses and apartments, a location that officials hope will make an ideal spot for an urban farm.
“Very surprised, I don’t think we’ve ever had anything like this in Fort Wayne,” said Karen Lebron, whose sister lives nearby.
The farm would include a variety of produce as well as parking. Depending on the farm’s operator, an on-site farmer’s market could be in the future. The city plans to work with local farmers to make this happen.
“We want the neighbors to find it welcoming but we also want to make sure that people understand this is a business operation and that we produce on those sites, we want to see it operate out to farm markets,” said Heather Presley-Cowen, Deputy Director of Fort Wayne’s Division of Community Development.
The farm will be about two acres.
The roughly $80,000 project will be mainly funded through a Community Development Block Grant.
“This is in a food desert where we’re proposing this, it’s in an area that also has a concentration of low-to-mid income residents and so that would qualify it for the CDBG dollars,” said Presley-Cowen.
Officials still have to make sure it’s self-sustaining.
“We’ll look at soil conditions, we’ll look at what the site should look like an what the context of the overall neighborhood is and preparing that site to make sure people understand what we expect to see there,” said Presley-Cowen.
The farm should be ready by late May, just in time for planting season.
“It really is all about economic growth, economic development, neighborhood development when the city’s involved in a project like that,” said Presley-Cowen.
The city will release an application within the next couple of weeks for potential operators and sponsors.