The nonprofit organization Farmished has acquired a portion of the property of the old Frank Foundry, located at 2008 E. 8th St. in Muncie, Indiana. Originally founded in 1898 as Muncie Foundry and Machine, the site was acquired by Frank Foundry in 1942. The foundry ceased operation in 1985, and the property has since shifted hands numerous times. Steve Morehead, the most recent owner of the majority of the site, donated his 10 acres to Farmished on November 7th, 2014. “We are thrilled to have completed what has been a 6+ month process of securing land for our programs” said Michael Wolfe, Founder, President, and Chairman of the Board for Farmished.
Although not considered a contaminated brownfield, the property has long been considered an eyesore, as it contains several partially demolished structures and large amounts of debris, rubble, foundry sand and factory byproduct. The site has also posed a potential safety hazard to children and others who frequent the property. Farmished intends to rehabilitate the property in stages. ”We couldn’t be more excited and supportive for what Farmished is doing with the old Frank Foundry lot” Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler remarked. “This is a great step in turning around the Muncie downtown area.” The Mayor’s office has been instrumental in bringing about this property donation. “There is no way that Frank Foundry would be making this transition without the help of the Mayor and his office” cites Wolfe appreciatively. “Brad Bookout in particular helped guide us through the entire process”. “In my opinion, some of the best economic development projects are the ones where old industrial sites are able to be repurposed into new uses that benefit the city and county.” said economic development consultant for the City of Muncie, Bradley Bookout. “I applaud Michael and the Farmished project for putting the community first on this project.” Christopher Allen, also a consultant for the City of Muncie, remarked, “This is an enormous opportunity not just for those involved with Farmished but for our neighborhoods and community as a whole. I can’t wait to continue working with everyone on this project as it moves forward.”
In keeping with the Farmished mission to help and encourage community members to produce and consume local, healthy foods, the organization ultimately intends to use the property as a training farm. As it is rehabilitated, Farmished plans to develop areas on the property for composting, vegetable and fruit production and livestock farming. Additional space will be allotted for an edible landscape and recreational area for the surrounding Blaine neighborhood and bordering section of the Cardinal Greenway. “The location of the Frank Foundry donation couldn’t be in a more ideal spot for us” said Wolfe. “The Blaine neighborhood, the 8th street improvements, and the Cardinal Greenway will provide an ideal setting for all of our urban farm programs.” Mayor Tyler is also a big fan of the location mentioning that he “grew up in the neighborhood a couple blocks east of Franks Foundry. I remember when it was a key component of the area. I’m excited for Farmished with support of the City to repurpose the property into a positive part of our Community again.” Several community members and organizations, including Jason Donati and the Urban Garden Initiative, are prepared to partner with Farmished in order to help the organization achieve its development goals and fulfill its mission.
Farmished is in the process of working with the County Audtor’s and Assessor’s offices to transition the property to a non profit status and remediate years of back taxes. Both Judith Rust and James Carmichael have been extremely supportive of this initiative and transitioning a hopeless, hazardous parcel of land back into a productive part of the community. “We are getting very close to an opportunity to make a positive difference in lives in Muncie” said Mayor Tyler. “Imagine the possibilities when we work together.” Following the conclusion of the tax remediation process and several environmental surveys, Farmished volunteers will begin flattening partially standing structures, sorting debris and rubble, repurposing usable materials and disposing of foundry sand and other waste. At the same time, Farmished will begin its first program: composting. For this effort, Farmished will partner with local restaurants and grocery stores to acquire food waste, which it will then layer with wood chips and place in wind rows. Farmished anticipates that compost will be available for purchase as soon as the summer of 2015.
Farmished is a newly-formed nonprofit in the Muncie, Delaware County, area of Indiana. They aspire to create a thriving, sustainable food system that incorporates the participation of the full community in producing and consuming local, healthy, nutrient-dense foods using environmentally friendly methods. For information about volunteering and donating or loaning equipment or supplies to help rehabilitate the former Frank Foundry property or to begin the composting program, please visit its website: http://farmished.org.