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Image: Juli Leonard

Birthdays are great but Bearthdays are even better. Earth Week + Raleigh City Farm (RCF) turning 4 = an April 23 Bearthday celebration of local food and music.

In case you hadn’t noticed, urban farming is hot, and real estate corporation Redfin recently ranked the Raleigh and Durham area as 10th-best for urban farming in the nation. Its data scientists “combed through thousands of home listings for keywords like ‘greenhouse,’ ‘garden’ and ‘chicken’” to find which areas had the most homes with these features per capita, and 13 percent of local listings contained one of the keywords.

That probably comes as no surprise to dedicated staff and volunteers at RCF, a small plot of land with a big plan at the corner of Franklin and Blount Streets in downtown Raleigh. Support for hyper-local food is one factor helping it successfully achieve its vision: Growing new urban farms and farm entrepreneurs to strengthen sustainable, healthy food systems.

RCF’s mission has evolved over the past four years. According to Rebekah Beck, general manager, RCF successfully incubated the Food Hub under the leadership of RCF’s CEO Chris Rumbley. As of this spring, it was officially spun off as a for-profit venture called Farmers’ Collective, operating at RCF and still led by Rumbley.

“This year our focus is to strategically grow our board along with overall governance of the organization, strengthening community partnerships, and building community engagement and education around urban farming and sustainable agriculture,” Beck said.

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Image: Juli Leonard

Bearthday is one fun piece of that strategy, serving up New Belgium beer, wine from Wine Authorities and pizza from Trophy Brewing & Pizza. Often selling out their venues, local favorites Delta Rae are headlining the event. Pre-event ticket sales, $20 general admission and $25 VIP, end at 6 p.m. on Friday but tickets purchased at the door are just $5 more.1

RCF is an active participant in Second Saturday and the Raleigh Food Corridor through partner Piedmont Picnic Project. Leading Second Saturday workshops throughout the year, the Piedmont Picnic Project is also offering a new Pollinators in the Piedmont program. Funded by Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, it adds a layer of programming around the pollinator habitat, providing an educational component as well as maintenance of that space.

The weekly Saturday Farm Stand, 9 a.m. to noon, starts back up this Saturday. If you want to give urban farming a go yourself, Wednesday’s Wine + Weeds is a opportunity for anyone to join in, drink some wine, weed and build community between 6–7 p.m. each week.

Digging in to local produce is one way to support Earth Day all year round. The first Earth Day in 1970, explained as a “teach-in” on environmental issues to more than 20 million people across the United States, focused on air and water quality, but today Food & Agriculture is one of the Top 10 Earth Day core issues.

Looking forward is important, and so is looking back. Beck’s RCF highlight from the past four years is “all of our dedicated and hard-working Farm Entrepreneurs, both those currently on site and those who have moved on to bigger projects.”

It’s obvious RCF is growing up.

  1. Rain date is April 24 but Mother Nature looks like she plans to cooperate on Saturday.