Table to Table to be leased land for $1

BY BEN MARKS | MAY 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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Local in-need residents might receive some fresh fruits and vegetables soon, courtesy of the Johnson County Poor Farm.

On Thursday, the county Board of Supervisors approved a proposed plan to lease two acres of the farm to Table to Table as a representative of Grow Johnson County.

Grow Johnson County is a collaborative project among several different organizations established to address local food insecurity.

“The use of the two-acre space is as a garden, growing produce for use and delivery to local residents in need,” Assistant County Attorney Andy Chappell said.

Supervisor and farm liaison Mike Carberry said the move is mainly beneficial to local food pantries, which often struggle with providing fresh produce.

“If you go to a food pantry, you’ll find they don’t have a lot of fresh food,” Carberry said. “So we as a county feel like we can help step up and fill that void.”

The acres, which would normally cost around $450 to lease, Carberry said, would be instead be leased to Table to Table for $1.

Chappell said Table to Table will be responsible for maintaining the property and noted that the supervisors have agreed to provide water to the site.

“There’s no accessible water for the garden, so the county is agreeing to get water there either from an existing connection through Chatham Oaks or tapping into the city water main,” said supervisors’ executive assistant Andy Johnson.

Carberry said the supervisors have pursued this for a while, and he thought this move fitted well with the history of the farm.

“I think this brings together the two aspects of the Poor Farm and what it historically did,” he said. “And I think this is a great way to honor its history.”

In the 1900s, the Poor Farm functioned as a place for the mentally ill and the impoverished. They were given room and board in exchange for work.

On May 4, the supervisors will travel to Dane County, Wisconsin, to speak to the local government about many different issues, Carberry said, including community agriculture and the Poor Farm.

The farm has around 120 acres of tillable land, and Carberry said the supervisors are pondering expanding the number of acres leased to Grow Johnson County, as well as possibly developing community gardens or affordable housing.

“Right now, it’s a blank slate,” he said. “And we have a brush.”

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