In the US, 97% of farms are family-owned and almost all the others are large million-dollar operations.
So, town farms, farms that are owned or operated by municipalities, aren’t a common occurrence in the United States.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist!
In this article, you’ll learn about town farms and what they add to a community.
One town in New Jersey started its own farm using a repurposed shipping container.
The farm, located in Robbinsville Township, is fully hydroponic and uses vertical farming techniques to grow crops.
Hydroponic farms use nutrient-rich water to grow crops instead of soil.
And vertical farming is a technique that grows plants in stacks to save space.
As a result, shipping container farms can grow more food per square foot, than traditional farms.
Robbinsville Township started its farm when Mayor Dave Fried saw a shipping container farm and told the town’s recreation manager that he’d love to have one for Robbinsville Township.
Originally, the farm was meant to be a tool for increasing access to healthy fresh food.
But since the town installed the farm in 2017, it has become a large part of the community.
The farm is located at the local senior center and volunteers do most of the work to keep it operating.
Produce from the shipping container farm gets sent to the local senior center, Meals on Wheels location and food bank.
As a result, the container farm is able to help the members of the community who need it the most!
And the town doesn’t only supply food with its shipping container farm.
It provides education too!
The farm offers field trips for schools, businesses and families to teach them about healthy eating, sustainable agriculture and hydroponics.
Thanks to the shipping container farm, the town is able to bring the community closer together.
But Robbinsville Township isn’t the only town to own a farm.
Easton, a town outside of Boston, Massachusetts, owns a 1,000-acre piece of land called Wheaton Farm.
While most of Wheaton Farm is designated for conservation, hiking and hunting, it’s also home to two small farms.
One of these farms is ran by the community.
But unlike Robbinsville Township’s volunteer-based operation, this community farm rents out 200 and 400 square-foot garden plots for a seasonal fee.
Under the rental agreement, all farmers who rent plots from the farm, have to grow their crops 100% organically.
As a result, they can’t use any pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
But the rental fee includes access to organic compost, water and advice from experts.
While the produce from this farm is meant for personal consumption, it also brings the community together through shared experiences and meaningful work.
For example, the town asks farmers to volunteer for some general chores around Wheaton Farm, like picking up trash, or raking leaves in the fall season.
Bonding over a shared interest in growing, and working together on beautiful land, is a great way to strengthen a community.
Wheaton Farm’s other organic farm, Langwater Farm, might be located on town-owned land, but the business is owned and operated by a small family.
Even so, Langwater Farm helps bring the community together.
It does this by hosting parties, tours, field trips, workshops, fitness classes, festivals and farm-to-table dinners.
It even runs it own Community Supported Agriculture program, which helps get locals more involved with their food supply.
As you can see, town farms come in different shapes and sizes, but they all have something in common.
They all value and support the local community.
Want to start a farm for your town?
Visit our website or call 602-753-3469 to learn more about shipping container farms.