Thursday April 14, 2016

City Farming

The University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute and partners East End Community Services, Mission of Mary Cooperative and the Twin Towers neighborhood are taking the first step in transforming a former Dayton Public School site into an urban farm and green space.

The group will erect three hoop houses on the Lincoln Hill Gardens site at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 16; Monday, April 18, and Friday, April 22,  in the Twin Towers Neighborhood at 401 Nassau St. in Dayton.

"A hoop house, a semicircle wire-frame covered in clear plastic, functions like a greenhouse. They are movable, so our plan is to create nearly three-quarters of an acre of growing space for what we hope to be 15,000 pounds of food per year," said Stephen Mackell, urban farm manager at Mission of Mary Cooperative. "Crops will include winter greens, spinach, onions and carrots during the cold seasons and tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, herbs and salad crops during the main growing season."

Mission of Mary operates three urban farms, but the Lincoln Hill Gardens site will be the largest and first to have large production hoop houses, according to Mackell.

Kate Ervin, East End Community Services director of community development, said urban farming is important because "many urban areas lack the necessary infrastructure to provide residents access to fresh, healthful foods and lush, open green space.

"The hoop houses are just the beginning and one phase of a long-term plan for which we are looking for more support," Ervin said. "We hope to finalize our plans for the Lincoln Hill Gardens project later this summer. In addition to the urban farm, our hope is to ultimately transform the land into a natural, educational and recreational green space that's easily accessible to those living in the city."

Students from the University of Dayton are working with the Hanley Sustainability Institute to assist with site design, surveys, soil restoration, and logo design and branding.

"Projects like these provide truly a field experience for students and are at the heart of the Hanley Sustainability Institute's mission," said Don Pair, acting head of the institute.

Other proposed student projects include evaluating the use of solar parking lot canopies, green roofs and greenhouses on campus; cooking oil to power campus vehicles; and the impact of the University of Dayton's water run-off on the Great Miami River. Engineering, operations, biology, psychology, communications, math, international business, marketing and pre-med students are involved in developing the proposals.

The University is actively fundraising for these projects and other University sustainability initiatives, which were launched with a gift from The George and Amanda Hanley Foundation in 2014.

"It is our intent with this gift to allow students and faculty throughout the University to think creatively about how to put their knowledge to work in real-world projects that extend learning beyond the classroom,” said George Hanley, a 1977 business graduate and member of the University of Dayton board of trustees, when the University announced the gift. "We want to educate and prepare students for careers — in every sector — that will help create a more sustainable future."

For more information on supporting the Lincoln Hill Gardens project, contact Derrick Dukes, assistant vice president for corporate and foundation relations, at 937-229-4523 or ddukes1@udayton.edu. To learn more about supporting the University of Dayton Hanley Sustainability Institute and its students' projects, contact Don Pair at 937-229-3295 or dpair1@udayton. For interviews, contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of media relations, at 937-229-3391 or srobinson1@udayton.edu.

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