HANDS Board recommends moving rorward with Renaissance Pointe Urban Farm


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News release from the City of Fort Wayne:

HANDS Board Recommends Moving Forward with Renaissance Pointe Urban Farm

(February 3, 2015) – The Housing and Neighborhood Services (HANDS) Board today recommended that the City of Fort Wayne enter into a contract with Growing Minds Educational Services and Urban Grow to operate an urban farm in the Renaissance Pointe neighborhood.

The farm will be located at 2518 Winter St. and will be the City’s pilot site for establishing a template for development of urban farms in Fort Wayne. It is located in a food desert, or an area with very little access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

City plans for the property include the adaptive re-use of former fire station 9, which is located on the site, into a community center with a commercial kitchen and space for a farmers market. Surrounding property will be developed into farmland.

In the fall of 2014, the City released a request for proposals to operate the site as an urban farm. The proposal submitted by Growing Minds Educational Services and Urban Grow outlined how they would operate the farm:

• Growing Minds will provide educational support and mentoring for at-risk youth. Youth would be involved in farming, learning about nutrition and preparing healthy meals.
• Urban Grow will operate a weekly farmers market and support local growers. All purchases using WIC and SNAP would be matched dollar-for-dollar.
• A commercial kitchen will be rented out to entrepreneurs who would not normally have access to these facilities.
• A CSA (community supported agriculture) will be established in which area residents can purchase low-cost shares and in exchange receive a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables each week.

“This is an exciting proposal from Growing Minds and Urban Grow,” said Heather Presley-Cowen, deputy director of the Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services. “This operation appears to be an excellent economic development strategy that will benefit youth and provide easy and affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables to residents.”

A final contract has not been written, but Growing Minds and Urban Grow propose federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) payments of approximately $41,000 in the first year, $31,000 in the second year and $21,000 in the third and final year of the contract. After three years, the organization will be self-sustaining with no payments from CDBG dollars needed.



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