To grow the next generation of farmers by connecting our community to sustainable agriculture
Raleigh City Farm is a nonprofit urban farm founded in 2011 on a formerly vacant one-acre lot in downtown Raleigh. We believe in the power of urban farms to reduce waste, create healthier communities, and re-connect city-dwellers with food production through more frequent encounters with agriculture. We believe that turning vacant lots into productive, nourishing farmland can create something from nothing – an amenity from an eyesore. We believe that urban farms bring people together, make our neighborhoods more beautiful and safer, and spur economic development and growth. And we believe that our impact can extend beyond the perimeter of our small farm site as we create business opportunities for new farmers in the region, helping them sell their products to local chefs and restaurants and directly to the community.
When we first set out to start Raleigh City Farm, our mission was simple: to create a “place where anyone can learn about farming.” We would do this by transforming forgotten urban spaces into farmland. In the spring of 2012, that vision began to materialize when our first group of volunteers appeared on the corner of Franklin and Blount Streets with shovels and enthusiasm. Our farm was born. In the years since, we have operated to fulfill our vision.
We envision a community engaged in a vibrant, sustainable food system reinforced by a network of thriving farmers
Our beliefs and values in entrepreneurship, local food, community, sustainability, and well-being inform our daily work.
- Entrepreneurship – to encourage and support innovation in urban agriculture
- Local Food – to nourish our bodies and support economic development
- Community – to strengthen civic engagement and neighborhood pride
- Sustainability – to steward the health of the nonprofit and the environment
- Well-being – to recognize the transformative power of cultivating the soil
Today, Raleigh City Farm is an integral part of our local community. We collaborate in various ways with a diverse array of companies and nonprofit organizations throughout the Piedmont region who share our vision. We invite our community to “dig in” and be a part of our big vision by signing up for a workshop, taking a tour, attending a special event, and volunteering to help maintain our farm site.
1) Food Forest
A food forest is a Permaculture (permanent + agriculture) concept that uses forest ecosystems as a model for food production. Food forests provide a range of foraging opportunities by stacking plants in layers the same way that a forest does to maximize diversity. Low-growing herbs and vegetables are nestled around the bases of fruiting shrubs, which are grown below nut-bearing trees. All of this vegetation provides support to food-bearing vines.
Apiaries are a collection of beehives providing pollination services that enhance crop yield and honey for human-use. Bees enjoy near year-round access to nectar and pollen that the farm provides. Bees are not aggressive by nature and can tolerate respectful human activity close to their hive.
3) Principal Farmer Greenhouse
The Principal Farmer Greenhouse provides a nursery-like environment allowing RCF’s Principal Farmer to get a jump on starting crops from seed in spring, extending the life of summer veggies well into fall and even growing through winter.
4) Hydroponic Greenhouse
The hydroponic greenhouse grows a variety of lettuces, basil, and microgreens year-round to supply area restaurants and partners of Endless Sun Farms. Growing plants hydroponically uses a fraction of the water, space, and fertilizer required by traditional farming practices and is a more sustainable way to grow crops, especially in urban environments. Here the irrigation water is recycled and recirculated, preventing the fertilizer-laden runoff associated with traditional farming practices.
RCF collects and stores unused plant material where it can be broken down by microorganisms. The final product is a rich, sweet-smelling material called “compost” that enriches the soil by providing nutrients, retaining moisture, and improving soil structure for increased root growth. Compost increases crop yield and reduces our need to irrigate and fertilize, helping manage production costs and resource use.
6) Pollinator Perimeter
Plants growing around the perimeter of the Farmscape provide a range of services including beauty, stormwater management, and resources for wildlife. The most important job of the buffer is to attract insects and birds that pollinate crops and prey on pests that reduce production. Throughout the buffer visitors will also find a range of herbs that are useful as food and medicine.
7) Principal Farmer Production Area
We produce a wide and ever-increasing range of food crops on less than half an acre! Many of the crops are annuals, which are started from seed. Growing annual crops requires a lot of energy, so we are continually refining our approach to farming by incorporating sustainable farming and permaculture practices. Permaculture, in particular, is RCF’s favorite model of agriculture. It employs design principles based on the function of natural ecosystems.
8) Principal Farmer Shed
9) Farm Stage/Wash Station
The Farm Stage/Wash Station provides a place for RCF’s Principal Farmer to inspect, wash, weigh and package harvested produce with easy access to cold storage. Additionally, the farm stage provides a place to celebrate the food and friendships produced at RCF. Here, fans and farmers can connect, share ideas, and build social health.
10) Rainwater Cisterns
Rain water is collected from Person Street Plaza buildings next to the Farm, which is then filtered and pumped up to the two cisterns. Stored rainwater is then used on the Farm in production areas, thereby promoting sustainable watering practices by reducing the Farm’s sole dependence on the use of City water.
11) General Manager’s Office (future site)
12) Community Pavilion (future site)
13) Rain Garden
Rain gardens are installed throughout the Farmscape to manage stormwater on the property. These shallow depressions slow the movement of surface water, reducing erosion and allowing the water to better infiltrate the soil. Plant roots and microorganisms within the rain gardens break down or store pollutants found in the stormwater before that pollution can reach food production areas.