Looking Back and Looking Forward

Staff from The Nature Conservancy conduct the first site assessment at Agraria.

Staff from The Nature Conservancy conduct the first site assessment at Agraria.

The Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions is eager to begin 2018 with many exciting plans that the board and staff see as integral to the community and the future. As you know, the purchase of Agraria changed our trajectory, bringing with it the many opportunities to realize what we had been planning the previous 2 years--soil regeneration and its impacts on community life. The past 9 months has been a whirlwind of activity and excitement, not only on the part of our staff and board, but also among many community members who volunteer their time and expertise as well as providing financial contributions. We couldn’t do this without you and we are so grateful for your support.

Here is some of what we’ve done and what we’re planning within certain key areas in the future:

Research Our initial interest in Agraria sprang from our conviction that the repair of soils is central to the future of the planet. Regenerative land use practices have multiple beneficial impacts on local and global climate, water health, and human health. Increasing carbon in soil directly mitigates climate change. Our goals with Agraria include modeling a transition from a mono-cultural industrial method of land use that uses heavy inputs and tilling, to polycultural planting and care, including agroforestry.

Farm Development We are working with The Nature Conservancy on a plan for the restoration of Jacoby Creek, which will include a re-meandering of the creek, removal of invasives including honeysuckle, and replanting of the riparian zone. The Nature Conservancy expects to begin their work in the fall of 2018. Other plans for the farm include rentals to farmers who use regenerative practices, spaces for business, education and training, and a demonstration orchard and native medicinal plantings in the field just south of the barn.

Education From Montessori summer camp for preschoolers, to Project Based Learning demonstrations by YS School’s students, to hosting students from Clark State, Antioch, and Central State University in exploring curricular, research, and internship programs, our burgeoning partnerships cover all ages from preschoolers to adult learners. Additionally, next summer, we will be offering classes in medicinals and foraging, as well as a garden day for families.

Infrastructure Much of our work at Agraria over the past several months has been getting the buildings ready for us to move from our current offices at Antioch. The house and the workshop have been transformed to provide an updated residence, meeting rooms, and office space. The barn has also been updated with new wiring and outfitted with tables and chairs.

Business With the guidance of our business plan, the goal for Agraria is to support at least 60% of our operating expenses through business-related income within five years. Some key business opportunities include rental of the barn, native plant sales, and production and sale of soil amendments including compost tea and biochar. Currently we are working with Wittenberg College and medical marijuana producer Cresco to take their compost next spring.

With the new year approaching, the board is committed more than ever to ensure the long-term success of our new adventure. We thank you whole-heartedly for your support. Click here for year-end giving.