Urban Farming for Social Mission and Good Eating Too
In 2012 Rick and Karen Hersberger felt a calling to be more involved in their faith community and the needs of those living in the city. So, they sold their 9 acre property west of Anderson, IN, and moved into the city. Their new property included a vacant lot next to the home which they promptly turned into an urban farm. They named their farm NERKA Faith Farm, an “acronym for our awesome family, (Niki, Eli, Rick, Karen, and Amanda)”. They define their mission as: “To get involved in the community. Bring awareness about urban gardening. To show Christ in our lives and to love the unloveable.”
To carry out their mission they raise vegetables, without pesticides or chemicals, which they sell at low prices at farmers' markets to those who have difficulty getting enough nutritious food. They keep the bugs under control by maintaining a small number of chickens that wander among the plants and eat the bugs. What they don't sell they give to the Christian Center which serves the hungry, hurting and homeless in Anderson. They also share the bounty of their urban farm with neighbors, while eating well themselves.
One could wonder how the neighbors would respond to an urban farm in their neighborhood. Rick reports that the neighborhood is very supportive and encouraging. He reports only goodwill from neighbors. The response is so positive that Rick is encouraging the city to make vacant lots it owns available to others who want to start an urban farm.
Rick clearly enjoys talking with the children who come to find out what the farm is all about. Some of them are amazed to learn about how food grows in the ground and doesn't just come from the grocery store.
Rick and Karen can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through their Facebook page.
Submitted by: Dick Sprague