Small-scale Microgreen farming as a pathway out of poverty

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2022: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2024
Grant Recipient: StarkFresh
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Tom Phillips


  • Agronomic: sunflower
  • Vegetables: beans, broccoli, carrots, cucurbits, lentils, peas (culinary), radishes (culinary), microgreens
  • Additional Plants: herbs


  • Crop Production: microgreens in urban environment
  • Production Systems: microgreens
  • Sustainable Communities: employment opportunities, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, urban agriculture

    Proposal summary:

    In Canton Ohio, 32% poverty rates are a reality. Those seeking employment to be able to afford food pull themselves out of poverty, are fewand far between, especially without a college education or with a criminal record of some sort. StarkFresh operates a Food Justice Campus, located within downtown Canton, OH in a 100-yr-old building. The Food Incubation Center, housed within the Campus helps erase barriers towards business ownership, by taking physical assets (affordable office space and a shared, licensed commercial kitchen)and pairs them with personalized guidance & training mainly with our Business Development Boot Camp. We've created space in the Campus basement for a microgreen growing operation. There aren't any microgreen farms locally designed to create employment opportunities for low-income individuals who are seeking a way to earn a living. Locally, the demand seems to be growing for quality microgreen offerings. By growing in an otherwise unusable interior space, we are able to better use resources &not have to take up potentially valuable land for other agricultural crops. Through the creation of this pilot microgreen farm, we hope to create an example of how a different approach to food and employment can create a meaningful way out of poverty.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Prep and equip the basement at the Food Justice Campus to be a suitable space for microgreen cultivation.
    2. Test different growing mediums using different base materials, growing styles, and growing vessels.
    3. Take an unskilled, low-income individual and teach them how to cultivate microgreens.
    4. Increase microgreen sales to local restaurants, retail stores.
    5. Document the entire process to be able to duplicate at a later date, at a different location, with different individuals.

    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.