As a mother of children with severe food allergies, Jeri Villarreal realized that to truly know what she was feeding her kids, she’d have to know how that food was made—and what better way than to do it herself?
Villarreal and her husband, Carlos, began Our City Farm in the family’s backyard, sustaining the couple and their three children. But as she continued to harvest for herself, Villarreal realized that others could, and would want to, benefit from honest, fresh foods. So, Our City Farm took to the streets.
In actuality, it’s a boulevard—Delmar Boulevard to be precise—that will house Our City Farm’s ambitious expansion, turning a vacant city lot into a sustainable farm. Not a community garden. A real, commercial farm. Located in the Central West End, Our City Farm has already begun construction on the raised beds that will aid in growing Certified Naturally Grown heirloom produce.
In addition to produce, the farm will offer fresh eggs from their coop of heritage breed chickens, as well as host free community workshops aimed at educating city dwellers on naturally grown produce, how to cook them and meeting the challenges of starting their own farms in not-so-farm-like spaces.
“I see more options for the consumer,” envisions Villarreal. “I see a future where, as an urban consumer, I can walk to my local farmer and actually see where my food comes from. That’s huge.”
Also huge is the amount of money necessary to create a farming oasis in the middle of a major metropolitan city. Having already invested a great deal of money, Our City Farm has created a project page on crowd-funding site, Kickstarter to help raise $6,500 by Fri., May 18. As with all Kickstarter projects, if the goal isn’t 100-percent met by the deadline, all pledges are cancelled and the project goes unfunded.
“We just want to meet our goal, so we can start growing for our community,” Villarreal says.
Our City Farm plans to have more than 50 raised beds, growing Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) heirloom produce. The new site will also feature a small farm store, outdoor learning pavilion and small flock of chickens. Our City Farm will continue their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program at the city location, however, they hope to expand it and provide discounted CSA shares to families that demonstrate a financial need.
The Villarreals plan not only to cultivate the land on Delmar Boulevard, they also plan to cultivate minds in the community. Our City Farm will host free workshops aimed at educating the community about naturally-grown produce, cooking heirloom vegetables, growing in small spaces, keeping chickens and other sustainable practices. Additionally, the farm will host interns every year that will learn the farm's specific growing practices and will receive guidance in starting their own urban farms.
Our City Farm has already begun installing raised beds on the lot and planting in the beds. The entire family is getting into the act with their children helping to plant seeds. Jeri and Carlos hope to inspire a generation of young farmers, starting at home.