City Farm Cultivates Urban Agriculture Interest

You might not expect to see farming in the heart of the nation’s capital, but a resilient young grower is putting the USDA micro-loan program to use in a concrete jungle.

A former parking garage in Northeast DC transformed into a living salad bowl. Micro-greens are young leafy plants, grown to between 8 and 20 days old from regular seeds. They’re highly nutrient-dense, and a favorite for local chefs who use these flavorful and color-packed ingredients.

The crops at Little Wild Things Farm grow under highly efficient led lights in soil, and Mary Ackley, Founder and CEO of Little Wild Things, says staying conservative on technology to focus on profitability. In terms of growth, she says qualifying for a USDA microloan was a game-changer.

I used that to hire my first full-time employee, my first full time manager, and so that was huge in terms of scaling.

Though there aren’t many experienced farmers in Washington DC, Ackley says there are a lot of ambitious young people interested in agriculture, and hiring staff with skills in science, engineering, and marketing has been a strength for the farm.

Focusing on the farm’s profitability has also allowed her to work on another goal, to demonstrate that agriculture can be a viable career for the best and brightest of the next generation.

Little Wild Things Farm is working to build, not only a profitable business here in the city center but also to build careers for young folks interested in science, technology and agriculture who aren’t from a rural background.

The city farm also works with a local veteran-owned business that removes used soil and plant material for composting. Ackley says the partnership helps to eliminate farm waste and recycle nutrients.

Report by RFD-TV’s Sarah Mock

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