Hank Koehler talks about Four Seasons City Farm

Four Seasons City Farm has about 2.5 acres of cultivated land which 12 garden plots comprise on the East Side of Columbus. Last year’s harvest was about 2,000 lbs of produce, said Hank Koehler who runs the gardens.

Here’s Koehler’s run down, off the top of his head, of what they supply to restaurants and stores:

Greener Grocer: herbs, lettuce, and tomatoes

Clintonville Community Market: zucchini and tomatoes

Angry Baker: raspberries and lettuce

Black Creek Bistro: leaf lettuce, figs, tomatoes,

Yellow Brick Pizza: basil, tomatoes, leaf lettuce

Koehler estimates their revenue to have been about $2,000 last year. But I still want to find out how Four Seasons' income from selling produce and flowers compares with their operating costs.

While we're at it, does anyone have a sense of how many community gardens and urban farms in Columbus are paying their operating costs from the money made from sales of produce and/or money that comes from people working in the gardens ?

As for Four Seasons, Koehler said some of the funding comes from the United Way and donations from other sources. He also said Four Seasons may get an AmeriCorp worker. W/ that arrangement, they would have a staff member for one year whose salary would be paid by the feds.

Koehler said one of the obstacles keeping our city from growing more food in our communities is a mindset that involves people not putting much thought into where our food comes from.

Koehler said some of the practical obstacles to community gardening are access to water, land access and land rights.

He and fellow four seasons gardeners refer to the plot in the photo above as 'Sunflower Alley.' The property where this garden is located is for sale, or may have already been sold. So, this might be Four Seasons' last year at that particular plot, said Koehler.

The city owns the property where their largest plot is. They call it the Garden of Freedom. It’s almost an acre, and located at Mound and Carpenter.

“We’d like to secure that land in perpetuity for food purposes,” Koehler said. Four Seasons has build up the quality of the soil at Mound and Carpenter---where an apartment building had been torn down ----by amending it w/ compost and natural fertilizers during the several years of growing crops there.

Koehler said some city officials seem supportive of community gardening, but things can get complicated when a developer comes along and offers a lot of money.

The city rents land to community gardens for a low fee. But developers may offer hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more.

In various cities, some community gardeners are trying, with some degree of success, to use land trusts to maintain long-term access to land they’re gardening on. This makes sense given that it takes time to build up the quality of soil in a way that’s better for the environment.

land trusts

land trusts