Participatory, Community-Driven Agriculture: A new model for small farms that actively engages customers in the cultivation of food and culture

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $14,970.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: Solid Ground Farm
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Weston Lombard
Solid Ground Farm

Information Products


  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), okra, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants


  • Crop Production: contour farming, intercropping, multiple cropping, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, pollinator habitat, terraces, water management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: apprentice/intern training, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, land access, new enterprise development, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: biological control, competition, cultivation, field monitoring/scouting, mulches - general, physical control, smother crops
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture, permaculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, community planning, employment opportunities, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, public participation, quality of life, social capital, social networks

    Proposal summary:

    In just several generations, Americans have lost touch with the traditions, culture, and skills that used to produce our food and livelihoods. Modern life and the specialization of labor have focused our attention away from the land and our connection with nature is greatly diminished. However, people yearn for an opportunity to reestablish this relationship, seeking out community-supported agriculture programs, agritourism opportunities, and cultural events that remind us of our agrarian heritage.

    At Solid Ground, we are pioneering a new farm model that is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially responsible, and which brings farming back into the lives of everyday people.  Our participatory farm membership model provides the land, tools, guidance, and support to successfully engage participants in the growing of their own food in an innovative community-powered agriculture program.    Program participants are invited to weekly structured work parties, periodic skill-building presentations, and seasonal community celebrations. These activities are designed to help build a new agrarian culture by teaching people the skills necessary to produce their own food.  With expert guidance and help between sessions, participants will actively engage in each phase of the growing process. They will learn to grow food sustainably by selecting, planting, maintaining, and harvesting crops.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Launch, test, refine, and promote a new economically viable community farming business model that helps to strengthen a new sustainable agrarian culture while preserving and celebrating traditional agriculture knowledge and skills.
    2. Share and celebrate the success of this method of community agriculture through several tours and harvest events.
    3. Write up a business-model handbook to share with other farmers and landowners.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.