In a highly globalized society, it is rare for people to know exactly where their food comes from. In particular, people who live in urban neighborhoods surrounded by cement and metal have grown increasingly disconnected from the food they consume on a daily basis.
Cary Borish, CEO of Marathon Restaurants, decided to help solve that problem by establishing Marathon Farm on a vacant lot on the corner of 27th and Master streets in Brewerytown.
“The original concept was building out the farm and trying to make it somewhat sustainable by Marathon kind of benefiting both by receiving some of the food that’s grown on the farm so Marathon can start selling local organic produce, but Marathon would pay for that food which would then enable the farm to exist so we can sell produce at a highly subsidized rate to the local community,” Borish said.
The funding for Marathon Farm came mostly from Marathon Restaurants as well as donations from Borish’s family and friends.
Urban farming is a movement that has been sprouting throughout cities in an effort to build and empower communities such as Brewerytown. Marathon Farm involves the community by holding events such as monthly community dinners, providing a community garden and educating residents through workshops.
“I wanted to do something kind of dealing with our food system that was local and community engaged. [Brewerytown] met our criteria of being a poor, working class neighborhood,” Borish said.
The location of Marathon Farm is also ideal for the neighborhood and its residents because there are no supermarkets nearby. The neighborhood is also home to many vacant lots, abandoned homes and deteriorating buildings. Marathon Farm is working diligently with the community to revitalize blighted areas and provide it with fresh, organic produce.
“It’s nice to see something go from negative to positive, and I think it helps make the community not only look better but its also a way to get people together,” Brewerytown resident James Caldwell said.