COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Mid-Ohio Farm at NBC4 is expanding, thanks to the Franklin County commissioners approving more than $181,000 in funding.

Before the groundbreaking of the Mid-Ohio Farm at NBC4, the 2.7-acre lot located behind the station was unused. The farm was designed to serve the community around NBC4’s station, which includes students and a growing New American community. 

The grant was approved for a total of $181,270. It will allow the Mid-Ohio Food Collective (MOFC) to expand systems that are already in place, like the vertical towers.

“There’s great access here. We’ve got neighbors that are able to walk right across from the parking lot and be able to come in and garden. There’s easy access and there’s just a great ability for folk to be able to partake and be a part of this from all kinds of different communities,” said President of the Franklin County Commission, John O’Grady. 

Six years ago, a full-service grocery store, less than half a mile away from the station, closed. It left local residents with limited options to find healthy, affordable food. 

“It really is a gift to the neighbors that are here. First time I visited with Ken, we were walking around seeing five-gallon tubs, people growing in the parking lot over there, growing along the fence line trying to grow fruits and vegetables because they live in an apartment complex with asphalt around them. So, for them to be able to come in and have the community gardening space, grow their own food here,” said CEO of MOFC, Matt Habash. 

The urban farm combines traditional and modern agricultural techniques such as vertical growing towers, greenhouses and community garden boxes. 

“This grant is really going to allow us to take this location for Mid-Ohio Farms at NBC4 to the next level… We’ve already begun a lot of the work here to put the newer growing systems in that we’re really hoping to showcase the community at large and teach people how to grow food in new ways,” said chief platform officers of MOFC, Nick Davis. 

Educating the community is a big part of the Mid-Ohio Farm at NBC4 as well.

“We want to be able to show our neighbors, those that run urban gardens, or urban farms or even those that are just growing in their backyard or basement, here’s some new and efficient growing methods that use less water. We can teach new ways to get more efficiency out of the food that we’re growing,” Davis said.

Fighting food insecurity continues to be a top priority for MOFC. Their goal is to make every acre count. 

“The most variable part of your budget is food. If you don’t pay your rent, you’re going to get kicked out, if you don’t pay your car payment, you’re going to lose the car. If you pay those bills and food costs keep going up, we’re here to help and I think that’s the reality,” Habash said. 

Once the final phase of construction is complete, the goal is to produce approximately tens of thousands of pounds worth of fresh produce each year right here at the Mid-Ohio Farm at NBC4.