Sunbury Urban Farm Connects Columbus Youth to Nature and Food Sources
Sunbury Urban Farm is just less than a year old, however its purpose is longstanding.
Paisley Nash-Dooley, a member of the staff that includes Sarah Erikson and a host of volunteers, says that the mission of Sunbury Urban Farm is to cultivate community.
“Our research and personal experiences have taught us that people who are connected to their food are more likely to enjoy healthy options and explore new things,” says Nash-Dooley.
Erikson and Nash-Dooley have had long careers in the nonprofit sector, specifically related to outdoor programming for youth. The two even met as employees of Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland.
Their mission at the Sunbury Urban Farm is especially geared toward children, who Nash-Dooley says are more disconnect from nature than ever before. The farm offers programs and workshops on survival skills, conservation, geocaching, creek exploration and outdoor pursuits. Some of these programs are offered during Columbus City Schools holidays, professional development days, and after school.
“[Kids] are more stressed and less healthy,” Nash-Dooley says. “Our hope is to reconnect them with the land and others through free unhindered play outdoors and opportunities to dig their hands into the dirt and eat produce fresh from the garden.”
For adults and families, Sunbury Urban Farm offers workshops related to gardening and healthy living, as well as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) classes, which allows members to make a financial investment in the farm in exchange for a weekly supply of produce.
“It really is about community, as the supporters are taking a risk with the farm,” says Nash-Dooley. “We could experience crop failure or other hurdles and our supporters ride out that storm hand-in-hand with us.”
Organizations like Sunbury Urban Farm are part of a larger push toward sustainability and conservation happening right here in Columbus. Just earlier this year, the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) awarded $133,588.70 in grant funding to community projects around Franklin county, including a food waste diversion program at New Albany High School and the expansion of an existing yard and food waste program at Franklinton Gardens.
Sunbury Urban Farm does their part by hosting community food swaps, volunteer days, and shedding light on ways to connect with our environment and foster a relationship with our food.
“We see the value in bringing people together in support of a shared mission, not just with money but with time and energy. We’re literally growing together,” says Nash-Dooley.
Find more information about Sunbury Urban Farm, including their upcoming Spring Break camps, on their Facebook page.