Lincoln Heights residents started their own farm.

LINCOLN HEIGHTS, Ohio – They show up every Saturday armed with rakes, hoes, shovels, weed trimmers, seeds and, during a recent weekend, fly swatters to keep away cicadas.

These residents hope to feed their town. 

Of course, growing your own food isn't easy.

"It's supposed to be carrots," said William Fraley on a recent Saturday morning as he hacked through a mass of vegetation with a rake. "But it's not really carroting. It's more weeds than carrots."

As the issue of food deserts gets more attention nationally and locally, leaders in this predominantly Black suburb just north of Cincinnati hope to improve access to fresh produce and teach the village's youth valuable life skills.  

It's not just Lincoln Heights. People in Chicago, Atlanta and other cities have also turned to gardens as a way to improve access to fresh food, the Associated Press reported in 2019.

Fraley, 33, and the organization he's a part of called the Heights Movement, have turned a vacant lot in Lincoln Heights into a small farm called the Jackson Street Produce Market. 

This spring, they've planted more than a dozen varieties of crops.

A cicada rests on a peach tree in the Jackson Street Produce Market, Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Lincoln Heights.

'Everybody has to eat'

The nearest supermarket is only a few miles away in Woodlawn, but it's on congested Springfield Pike. Lincoln Heights is not listed on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's map of food deserts although other locations in Hamilton County and the metro area are.

While those with a car can easily get to the Kroger in Woodlawn,  those that have to walk can't, said Daronce Daniels, a Lincoln Heights village councilman. 

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