The Richmond Register

Local News

February 1, 2014

Urban farm, community center to be discussed Tuesday

BEREA — A proposal to build a Berea Urban Farm & Community Center less than a block from Old Town will be discussed Tuesday during Sustainable Berea’s monthly meeting.

A potluck begins at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. in the Friends Meeting House, 300 Harrison Road.

Participants will break into small groups to discuss urban farms and give input on what people would like to see in the center, said Cheyenne Olson with Sustainable Berea. A base map will be available so groups can sketch their visions of the farm.

The city of Berea has submitted a request for a zone change (from R-2 to B-2) for its 0.3 acre piece of the total 1.4 acres on which the proposed center would sit, she said.

The site is half a block from the Berea College campus, one block from the Berea College Ecovillage, four blocks from Berea Community School and two blocks from City Hall and the Chestnut Street commercial district.

In addition to promoting urban agriculture, the center could increase tourism in Old Town, Olsen said.

She already has solicited three gifts, totaling $10,000, to begin fundraising for the project.

The center would support further development of Berea’s local food system and would also:

• Demonstrate that large of amounts of food can be produced in a limited space

• Teach the importance of food safety in agriculture

• Educate through programs about production, preservation, marketing and sales of food

• Strengthen the community by training unemployed/underemployed residents in food-related industries

• Enhance tourism and commerce and connect city’s business district on Chestnut Street to Old Town

• Provide a community gathering place centered around food

• Offer education programs/services to support nutrition through food production/consumption

• Develop a set of measurements to be logged and assess the impact of the center to share with others wishing to develop farms in town/city areas.

Berea’s population in the 2010 Census was 13,561. While 27 percent of the population falls below the national poverty line, almost 40 percent of those under age 18 live in poverty.

Twenty-one percent of Berea households receive food stamp/SNAP benefits. Median per capita income in 2010 was $18,003, less than the state level of $22,515.

In July 2013, in a random household survey conducted by The Community Farm Alliance, 54 percent of Berea’s population reported some measure of food insecurity in the previous year.

To give input on the proposal, email Olson at info@sustainableberea.org.

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