kristen barker

Cincinnati union co-op Our Harvest grows a national profile from roots in College Hill | WCPO

by Elissa Yancey, WCPO Digital Contributing Environment Editor

CINCINNATI – On a main road in College Hill, smack dab in the middle of an urban food desert, sits a quiet, 28-acre farm at the center of a revolution.

A freshly built propagation house stands just a hundred yards or so off a four-lane section of North Bend Road that 20,000 cars traverse daily. Inside, the last remains of a small patch of cucumbers dangle from tall vines next to rows of knee-high hot pepper plants; piles of onions dry out on a row of pallets, their last stop before delivery to local homes, grocers and restaurants.

Fields of tomatoes, broccoli, beans and Swiss chard lead back to a pasture where more than a dozen cows graze over a hillside. On an early August afternoon, four farmers work the land. They water, weed and collect ripe vegetables; they inspect each new find with a gentle touch, crouching and reaching and stretching their way down neatly planted rows.

Just four-and-a-half acres of Bahr Farm, one of the last remaining family farms within Cincinnati city limits, serves as the incubator farm for Our Harvest, a union cooperative with major ambition and a core group of leaders determined to reshape the local food culture.

The cooperative, now reaping its second summer of organically grown harvest, has already garnered international attention and national press.

Our Harvest is the first business launched as a part of the Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative, or CUCI. Founded by local peace, justice and union professionals, CUCI is based on an international worker-owned business model and infused with American union support.

“We are very interested in helping to rebuild our food system here,” said CUCI co-founder Kristen Barker, 36. “We want to put so much of this fertile land back into production and create good, family-sustaining jobs. And we want to impact food access issues in a serious way.”

Read the whole article at WCPO.

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