Ohio State Mansfield Student And Professor Create Urban Agricultural System For Food Deserts

Kyle Dues tending to the Ohio State Mansfield microfarm in its early stages. Credit: Courtesy of Kyle Dues



Microfarming is a small-scale agricultural system that allows farmers to grow crops in a small plot of land in bustling areas that are outside of a 10-mile radius for fresh fruits and vegetables known as food deserts, Dues said.

“The purpose of the microfarm is to solve food desert crisis in small towns, especially in the rust belt region,” Dues said. “What we are trying to do is place the microfarm in those food deserts to combat that so everyone in that community then has access to fresh local foods and vegetables.”

“We would love to have every regional campus and Columbus campus to have their own microfarm as a production site,” Curtis said.

What began as a small project in a parking lot has expanded to seven microfarms in one area, creating more food for students, as well as a place for local farmers to come together and negotiate to sell the crops, Dues said.

The project gained support in January from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research with a $1 million grant to stimulate innovation in urban agriculture. With this new grant, the project will add three new microfarms, Curtis said.

“The on-campus microfarm is a model for what is, we believe, going to be an innovative new urban agriculture productive system that is going to be scalable and replicable all over,” Curtis said.