New Agrarian Center
The New Agrarian Center (NAC) has created and promoted healthy, sustainable, and equitable local foods systems in Northern Ohio since 2001.
Our goal is to make healthy, sustainably grown food available to everyone, regardless of income and to act as a workforce development center for those interested in choosing sustainable farming as a career path.
We do this through two key programs: The George Jones Farm and City Fresh.
GEORGE JONES MEMORIAL FARM AND NATURE PRESERVE
The George Jones Farm has been a beacon for beginning farmers for nearly two decades. On this unique site, our students gain experience in creating and maintaining agriculturally productive ecosystems that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.
The farm is situated on 70 acres of fields, prairie, wetlands, and forest, at least 30 acres of which are protected wetlands or held in long-term conservation reserve. Since 2001, the George Jones Farm has grown to include several acres of market and learning gardens, 3 greenhouses, a straw-bale constructed classroom and office space, and a network of trails connecting wild spaces with living areas and productive fields. Beginning with the NAC’s close collaboration with Oberlin College in 2001, the organization has helped foster a local foods movement that is being recognized nation-wide.
Bridging the gap between social justice and the local food movement has been the core of City Fresh from its inception.
400,000 people in Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties, live in what we call Food Deserts - whole swaths of our city where grocery stores have closed and left convenience stores and fast food as the only options.
The result is a health crisis. One of the most shocking examples of this is the rise of type 2 diabetes. Thirty years ago, in 1990, there were almost no known documented cases among children. Today, 1 in 2, half, of all children born to low income families is expected to be diagnosed with this completely preventable, nutrition-related disease.
This is the legacy of our broken food system.
City Fresh is a direct response - a community building effort that gets fresh, local, organic produce back into these food desert neighborhoods, and offers it at a price low-income residents can afford.
Our business model is called Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. We are a subscription service that sells baskets, what we call shares, of fresh, organic produce. The food is grown within 75 miles and delivered weekly from June to October to our subscribers’ choice of more than 18 different pickup locations throughout the region. These delivery points are completely coordinated by volunteers, and it is that volunteerism that allows us to take the small margins on the basic asking price (already 1/3 cheaper than the grocery store) and reinvest it to provide a low-income share price, a subsidized price, for families who need it.
With just 2 full-time staff, 20 farmers, more than 100 volunteers, and a box truck that we often run on waste vegetable oil, City Fresh has managed to deliver more than 150,000 of these shares in the last 12 years. And in that me, we’ve strengthen the regional network of farmers and open-sourced our business model, supporting the rise of more than two dozen new for-profit CSA programs in our region, several launched by our former volunteers.
We, however, remain the only CSA working in the food desert, the only offering the sliding price scale, the only to give an option to order a single week at a time, and the only to accept Food Stamps/Ohio Direction.
We serve an average of 600 families each week for 22 weeks during the growing season. $0.81 of every shareholder dollar is paid directly to our farmers, compared to the $0.05 to $0.15 estimated by the USDA when consumers purchase from grocery stores or restaurants.