The Land Over the Fence: How One New Yorker Moved to the Midwest and Built Her Urban Farm


Backyard Farmer Jodi Kushins

I spent the bulk of my childhood and young adult years in metro New York. The daughter of two hard-working physicians, I wasn’t born to be a farmer. And still, I’m sitting here today with dirt under my fingernails and a to-do list that includes water the seedbed, harvest tomatoes, and clean the coop.

In 2003, I moved to Columbus, Ohio, to attend graduate school at Ohio State University (OSU). OSU is so big it has its own zip code. So, while I never lived on campus, it was the center of my world. I didn’t consider myself a resident of the city as much as the university. All that changed when I graduated and decided to make Ohio my home.

There’s a stereotype about New Yorkers that we can’t see west past the Hudson River. When I moved here, my family repeatedly asked if I was warm enough and offered to send extra blankets despite the fact that I was just two states away. I had driven across the country once or twice by then, but I never really got out besides the National Parks and big cities. I had no sense of life in the Midwest before I got here beyond the faint notion that people worked hard and they grew things.

What I learned was that Columbus is a city where people make things and make things happen. Ideas take root here and people support and celebrate the pursuits of their friends and neighbors. Perhaps there are lots of places like Columbus. I hope so.

Finding Land and Taking Advice

Suburban Backyard Lawn With Shed

The land Over the Fence, November 2013. Photo by Jodi Kushins

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