Local farmer returns to her roots
PLEASANT TOWNSHIP, MI --
A 3-acre property with a two-story home, optimum farm soil and lots of green space brought a 34-year-old Lancaster native and aspiring farm owner back to her roots.
Erin Harvey closed on her Pleasant Township farm property two years ago with hopes of turning the home's backyard into a small farm, which she later coined The Kale Yard.
"I wanted an old house, and the land was perfect for what I wanted to do," she said.
Her first project was building a greenhouse where she starts thousands of plants every spring. This year, Harvey is growing everything from lettuces and Swiss chard to fennel and beets. One thing she will never stop growing is kale, but the farm's name doesn't actually stem from the leafy green vegetable.
"It was Scottish word that just means kitchen garden," she said.
Harvey's niche is edible plants, growing mainly produce, herbs and edible flowers to sell on Saturdays at the Granville Farmers Market. She also provides food to The Well along South Broad Street and will sell produce at the new Keller Market House on South Columbus Street.
Harvey's father often helps her with the farm, but the business venture is her own. She is still trying to get the word out about The Kale Yard in Lancaster to grow her brand. She said she would like to keep the size of her garden about the same as it is today, but possibly try growing other plants as she goes.
Harvey also hopes to have a small orchard, which she started this year with a few apple and plum trees, for personal consumption.
While farming and agriculture weren't at the top of her list when she started her undergraduate career at Earlham College in Indiana as a peace and global studies major, it quickly became a hobby and now a business.
She spent many years after college traveling and living across the U.S. working in agriculture and other farms. She moved back to Ohio in 2011, spending several years in Licking County. There, she leased greenhouse space from another grower to get started before purchasing her own piece of farmland in Fairfield County.
"I kind of eased into it," she said.
Since Harvey left Lancaster for college, a lot has changed in the downtown area, and she said she likes the new direction. Harvey mentioned the revitalization of prominent buildings, new businesses and the Keller Market House, which she hopes local shoppers will support.
"If we don't support those small local things, they will fail and then we will only have Amazon," she said. "I hope people support it."