Thailand farms

One of the largest urban farms in the United States is here in Cleveland

CLEVELAND — The Farm Stand outside Ohio City Farm officially opens for the season on Saturday, June 11 and will be open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon through Thanksgiving.

You can find the Farm Stand at West 24th Street and Bridge, just outside the Farm Gates, which is an unexpected juxtaposition of rural and urban life.

Equally unexpected are the amazing stories of humble, hard-working farm workers like Lar Doe.

“I’m very happy to work here and be part of the city,” Doe said.

He resettled in Cleveland after said he fled a civil war in Burma, now called Myanmar, in Southeast Asia, and spent 15 years in a refugee camp in Thailand; only a small fraction of refugees are resettled.

The land is owned by Ohio City Incorporated and the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, but operated by The Refugee Response; a Cleveland nonprofit that says it helps resettled families put down roots in their new communities and earn a living.

“We’re here to do more than grow great produce,” said Michael Bartunek, the farm’s senior manager.

Now, in its 12th consecutive growing season, Bartunek said The Ohio City Farm sells most of its crop through a weekly summer produce share called CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture. He said they now serve nearly 300 families a week with the CSA program. It’s sold out for the summer.

Food grown on the farm also supports local restaurants, the May Dugan Center, and is sold at the farm stand.

“The Ohio City farm produces, doesn’t even produce, but sells at least 60,000 pounds of food every year,” Bartunek said.

It is one of the largest urban farms in the country.

However, his 6 acres are about to become five.

“We’re sitting just south of a new attraction in Ohio City,” he said.

Bartunek talks about Irishtown Bend Park. Work is underway to stabilize the hill near the farm and build the 23-acre park that will descend to the Cuyahoga River.

The farm will lose its northern acre to the park, but Bartunek said they see it as a gain.

“We accept this because there is a lot to gain, not just for us, but for the community as a whole,” he said. “To be able to have that kind of green space, I think it’s going to get more people on the farm and closer to the farm, and we can have even more of an impact.”

Bartunek said they are looking to make The Ohio City Farm a bigger destination. He said that includes ways to farm longer in the year, perhaps adding a three or four season market and possibly building a commercial kitchen as well. He said he expects those plans to materialize over the next two years.

In the meantime, the public is invited to come and walk the trails of the farm, but remember that this is a working farm.

Doe said it’s hard work, but he enjoys working outdoors and the views from his “office.”

As amazing as the views is the impact the land has had on lives. Doe met his wife in Cleveland, and the couple just celebrated their baby girl’s first birthday. He is now an American citizen and grateful for the life he was able to lead for himself and his family in Cleveland. He’s been here for 10 years now and says he feels right at home.

Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, as well as top news alerts, the latest weather forecasts, traffic updates and more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

You can also watch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We are also on Amazon-Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.