Microfarm Community Food Development System

The Need: Supporting Sustainable Local Food Supply and Education

As food insecurity continues to be a pressing issue in local communities, Ohio State University Associate Professor Kent "Kip" Curtis recognized the need for a sustainable local food supply and an educational center to address this concern. Mansfield, Ohio, faced limited access to fresh, locally grown produce, prompting the vision of transforming a portion of the campus into a functional micro-farm. The goal was to produce fresh vegetables, provide educational opportunities, and contribute to the local community's food security.

The Technology: Ohio State Mansfield Micro-Farm

Ohio State Mansfield, in collaboration with recent graduate Tyler Arter, designed a functional micro-farm on an abandoned parking lot on the campus. The micro-farm spans one-third of an acre and includes two 30-by-72-foot high tunnels and over 50 raised beds. It is intended to be managed by a single farmer with the aim of growing and supplying fresh produce for campus dining halls, local markets, and low-income residents in Mansfield.

Commercial Applications:

  1. Campus Dining Halls: The micro-farm will supply fresh, locally grown vegetables directly to the campus dining halls, enhancing the sustainability and freshness of the food options available to students and staff.

  2. Local Markets: There are plans to expand the distribution of produce to local markets, creating opportunities for the micro-farm to contribute to the broader local food ecosystem.

  3. Community Food Donation: A partnership with the North End Community Improvement Collaborative aims to donate some of the produce to low-income Mansfield residents, addressing food insecurity in the community.


  1. Sustainable Local Food Source: By utilizing innovative farming techniques and an urban micro-farm model, the technology enables the production of fresh, high-quality vegetables within the local community, reducing the dependence on distant sources and promoting sustainability.

  2. Educational Opportunities: The micro-farm serves as an outdoor classroom (RUSS Gardens) where students can learn about sustainable farming methods, fostering practical, hands-on experiences and promoting environmental education.

  3. Social Impact: The micro-farm fulfills a crucial social need by addressing food insecurity within the local community, providing access to fresh, nutritious produce for low-income residents, and contributing to overall well-being.

  4. Innovation and Research: By seeking to incorporate new technologies, such as farming robots and advanced soil testing, the micro-farm represents a cutting-edge approach to sustainable agriculture, potentially influencing future developments in urban farming practices.

  5. Model for Replication: Ohio State Mansfield's micro-farm sets an example for other educational institutions, communities, or individuals interested in implementing similar sustainable urban farming projects, supporting broader efforts to address food security and environmental sustainability.

In summary, the Ohio State Mansfield micro-farm represents a forward-looking approach to address food insecurity, provide valuable educational experiences, and contribute to sustainable local food production, benefiting both the campus community and the broader Mansfield area.

Loading icon