What is no-till farming?
No-till farming relies on one magic word: mulch! This method mimics natural environments by always covering bare soil with organic material (leaves, grass clippings, straw…you name it). This mulch creates a dark, moist soil environment, much like would be found on the forest floor. Earthworms, insects, and fungi thrive under the mulch, and do the work for you: they loosen and “till” the soil! Meanwhile, that mulch suppresses weeks and helps hold in moisture, significantly reducing labor for the gardener. After several years of fastidious mulching, Farm 18 boasts a rich soil, full of life, and surprising productivity.
Danny Swan – a local college student – was living in East Wheeling, working with inner-city youth at the Laughlin Memorial Chapel. Danny and friends sought a means to get those city-kids “off the concrete and into the dirt”. The group set their sights on a one-tract of land adjacent to a highway viaduct, owned by the Department of Highways. They started with a small garden plot: the kids’ enthusiasm took off. Danny remembers a pumpkin growing contest, pitting 5th grade boys against girls. After learning that manure leads to fertility and growth, the kids eagerly sunk their shovels into a steaming manure pile! One young girl, forgetting her concern for her new Nikes, turned to Danny with a huge smile on her face: “Damn Mr. Danny. We’re really doin’ something.”
Farm 18 retains its distinction as Wheeling’s own urban mini-farm, producing $20,000+ in organic produce annually. The fruits and vegetables help supply our mobile farmers market, SNAP cooking class initiatives, and community health efforts. At the forefront of Grow Ohio Valley’s mission and food production, Farm18 shows what can be dreamed up on a forgotten vacant lot.
East Wheeling youth grew an interest in growing food and particularly in selling produce to make money. With the sweat of a few inner-city teenagers, Farm18 grew from a teaching garden into a diversified urban mini-farm. Chickens. Berries. Honeybees. Intensive vegetable production with no-till organic methods. Perennials and annuals brought to the community at the Wheeling Farmers Market and in elderly high-rise buildings.
How is it done?
No-till farming. Farm 18 sits atop the remnants of a neighborhood, torn down some 30 years ago. Existing soil and fertility were minimal. Tilling is impossible: a shovel can sink only a few inches before striking brick, cinderblock, or other demolition debris.
What is it?
Farm18 is an urban mini-farm, located in the heart of East Wheeling. Occupying a once-forgotten demolition site, Farm18 produces an abundance of organic vegetables, right in the heart of the city.
THE HISTORY OF FARM18