Catch Up With 4th Street Farms

4th Street Farms began on a vacant lot in 2011 in Weinland Park, a neighborhood of the Historic Short North, just as the 6th Street Community Garden was winding down and land transitioning to new housing. All of the founders of 4th Street Farms live on 4th Street and grew up gardening, cooking & canning, as well as raising livestock like chickens, goats & hogs. We all share a passion for growing, eating & sharing. We invite you to join us.

4th Street Farms is open to all with no fences & has regular service days where we all work on the space, which is thickly planted with berries, herbs & vegetables. We have pears, cherries, apples, plums, blueberries, strawberries, passion fruit, currants, mulberries, june berries, blackberries, red, black & golden raspberries…as well as thyme, mint, dill, oregano, cilantro, chives, lovage, rosemary, parsley, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage & carrots….

Our focus is on sustainability. The water is harvested from the roof of the house next door, stored in tanks, & feed down buried drip lines on timers. We use organic or natural solutions, no pesticides or chemical fertilizers, compost our food waste into soil, lay wood chip and cardboard to tame the weeds in the paths & choose native or well-adapted plants that are perennial or self-seeding to keep down planting costs. We rely on volunteers & neighbors to grow at 4th Street  IMG_2234.JPG

More than anything, we are working towards a world in which healthy delicious food is widely available to everyone. We look forward to a vibrant 2015 planting some new varieties and hatching our own chickens, as well as participating in Earth Day, Columbus Chicken Coop Tour, Roots & Roofs, Columbus Volunteer Challenge, Weinland Park Community Festival, & Make a Difference Day. Stop by anytime for a self-guided tour. Join us on Facebook and Twitter to follow our adventure or sign up for a volunteer day!


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Meet Our New Berry Supplier


I’ve spent the last few years dividing my time between cultivating food at home with my family and in woods and fields foraging for unique edibles and leading walks. It’s always been my intention to expand my efforts, but I’d thought I should choose one focus. Over time, I thought my attention would be pulled in one direction or the other – making my decision for me. But when I found, last summer, was that I was splitting my time between them as equally as ever, I decided to stop waiting and move forward, integrating both passions.

My earliest memories involve being outside and tasting food fresh from our family garden, or playing with “weeds” growing in our yard. I remember sucking the sweet nectar from red clover flowers gathered with my friends as we walked home from school. My goal is to give those same experiences to my child and to expand upon them and share them with others.

I believe in the importance of local, organic, sustainable, heirloom. Low-input methods are my focus, particularly on the perennial berries side of the business. I believe that building many small urban food systems that sustain us for years, a non-centralized food forest if you will, is absolutely achievable and a wise use of the small plots of land many of us have here in the city.
Experimenting with heirloom varieties of cultivated plants really appeals to me, because the flavor differences are so apparent. I also really love the connection to our past that heirloom varieties lend.
I’ll pursue organic certification, maybe this year – definitely next, and in the meantime operate according to the organic standards. The public here in Columbus is wise to the big picture benefits of organic operations, and it only makes sense as a new market grower to respond to consumer preference. I’m lucky that my own ideals line up with those.

More than anything, I want continue to experience and share flavors. Currants, gooseberries, multiple varieties of raspberries, a whole range of culinary herbs, edible flowers, foraged greens ranging from pungent to sweet and crisp – it’s obvious to me why I’ve focused on the offerings I’m growing. I’d love to be able to continue to experiment with additional offerings, those that customers are interested in and those that I discover.

Central Ohio has great access to organic staple vegetable and fruit crops, and I’m providing items that can be added to those ingredients to enhance them, creating a memorable cooking and eating experience. Additionally, since I’m working on a small scale, I’ve taken the opportunity to focus on berry crops that are less usual in order to broaden the market offerings instead of competing with already-successful producers.

I’ll be selling cut culinary herbs and select foraged items at the Clintonville Farmers’ Market beginning April 25. Those who sign up for my email list will receive exclusive offers for the special items I have in extremely low quantity, including this first year’s berry crop.

I’ll be providing flowers, strawberries and other berry plants for City Folk’s beginning in May, and medicinal and culinary herb seedlings for Boline Apothecary.

I lead classes on wild edible identification and usage through City Folk’s Farm Shop, Boline Apothecary, the Ohio Herb Education Center, and in partnership with DirtLab Bushcraft. I’m also available for private group walks. A comprehensive schedule of current classes and walks, and a contact form to schedule a private event, is all available at or by contacting me at


Our Urban Homesteading Story

My family’s urban homesteading adventure began when I bought my first home at 19. Young, dumb, and carefree, I decided to start digging! I used the common garden knowledge taught to me by my mother and grandmother and slowly pieced together what now feeds my family for most of the year. I am famously known for my ”Ah…. What the heck I’ll give it a try attitude?” And, that attitude has led us into raising everything from pigs to bobwhite quail.

We are active all year on our homestead. Early spring you will find us in our backyard diligently running buckets of sap from the tree to our rocket stove. This time of year also finds us in our greenhouse where we start seeds that will end up in our large food plots. Early summer, we order our chicks and once summer is in full force we are planting, weeding, harvesting, dehydrating and canning all of our well-earned bounty. By the end of summer we will end up with 120-170 lbs of rabbit and chicken in the freezer and enough canned vegetables, jellies, jams, sauces, stock, soups, and salsas to last us well into the next spring, when all of the fun begins again! Late fall into winter we seed barley fodder. The fodder gives our animals fresh greens to enjoy during cold, dreary days when greens are not available. We also gather firewood and plan all of next year’s crop rotations.

We pride ourselves on giving purpose to everything in the eco system we have created. For example, the chickens and rabbits we raise help fertilize the food we grow while keeping the bugs and weeds in check. In return they provide us with eggs, meat and fur through the year. When supplies are needed, we look for items to upcycle before making a trip to the store. We collect rainwater to irrigate our crops and wood chips and mulched leaves are gathered to keep our beds covered, hydrated and fertile. This results in little to no waste on our homestead.

Our homesteading has drawn attention from neighboring schools and recreation centers who would like to include us in their spring nature walks and science curriculum. It is really a great feeling having a positive impact on the youth in our community and if I had to choose what I liked best about our lifestyle, educating the youth would be it! I encourage you to join the homesteading movement. The benefits are endless!

Aliena Sword and her family have spent the last 11 years growing and learning on their urban homestead in North Linden. The family also enjoys hunting, fishing and conservation. Follow the Sword family’s homesteading and outdoor adventures on their facebook page Yankee Girl Outdoors