Urban farm provides produce, jobs in Harrisburg - abc27 WHTM

Urban farm provides produce, jobs in Harrisburg

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Fresh radishes. Arugula. Asparagus.

But what everyone was talking about at Joshua Farm's stand: the beets.

"I bought some beets," said Harrisburg resident Gary Williams. "My wife's gonna pickle 'em, and I'm gonna eat the tops."

Those beets are grown on a one-acre farm in the heart of Harrisburg city. Most of the produce is sold in shares, through Joshua Farm's subscription service, but the rest is sold at a farm stand in Strawberry Square every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A graduate of Harrisburg's SciTech High, 17-year-old Merced Ramirez greets and serves customers. He is one of two local youth employed by the farm each summer.

"[I'm] learning how to plant vegetables, how to harvest vegetables, how to sell," he said. "And the reason why I'm working here is because of my background. I come from a farming family, and I've lived in the city most of my life so I want to farm because that's part of my culture, my ancestry."

Joshua Farm Program Director Kirsten Reinford has been an Allison Hill resident since 1999. In 2006, she began planting, weeding and harvesting on an unused plot owned by Harrisburg School District.

"Oh, Allison Hill is a beautiful neighborhood," she said while weeding a carrot bed.

Among the weeds, she accidentally pulled out a immature carrot.

"Whoops ... this is sad," she said, dusting off the soil. 

On the other end of the farm grow the beets that were being sold just a mile and a half away at the farm stand. 

And giving people a chance to see where their food comes from is part of what Reinford is so excited about. 

"I really want people to see the connection between food and how it's grown, and who grows it and how they're treated," she said.

Eighty members receive a share of Joshua Farm's produce each week. One quarter of these members live within walking distance. 

Ramirez, who will attend Messiah College starting this fall, said he enjoys working on the farm because it gives him a chance to get away—without going far away.

"When I'm at the farm, I can get away and I can like have time for myself," he said. "When I'm harvesting something, or I'm weeding or something, I don't feel like I'm in Harrisburg. It's really peaceful there."

Members of the community can volunteer to work on the farm. They have a 'Weed and Feed' event every second Saturday of the month, where volunteers get a free meal in exchange for helping to weed the plot.

If that time doesn't work for you, Reinford said you can sign up to volunteer at other times on their website.

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