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Oakdale Business Owner Competes for National Grant to Achieve Dream

Business owner Jonathan Lockhart is hoping to receive a business grant from FedEx to help achieve his dream of creating an Urban Farm.

Jonathan Lockhart is hoping to expand his business.

Lockhart, who owns Northstar Nursery, is competing in FedEx's Small Business Grant Competition for a $25,000 grand prize. FedEx will also be issuing five smaller grants of $5,000.

Businesses across the country are competing for votes from customers, friends and family. FedEx will choose the grant winners from the top 100 businesses with the most votes.

So far, Northstar Nursery has 132 votes. To view Northstar's voting page click here.

If Lockhart wins the grant, he will use the money to acquire land for farming and purchase a cold storage unit, tools, chickens, seed, fruit trees, berry shrubs and a small tractor. Lockhart will also build a hoop-house, a washing station and a hen house, as well as install irrigation and rain catchers. 

Northstar Nursery is a home and garden retailer that primarily offers evergreen shrubs and trees, deciduous shrubs, landscape-quality plants, small spruces, flowering shrubs, flowers and ornamental trees, among other plants. 

Lockhart, who has opened Northstar Nursery in 2007, said that organic and urban farming has become a hot topic. Lockhart started to think about expanding his business after several customers began requesting produce.

"I'm in the business and I see the movement toward urbanization of farms," Lockhart said. "A lot of my customers are asking for more produce." 

Lockhart said that he began selling vegetable seeds and small vegetable plants last spring. 

"They flew out of here," Lockhart said. "I couldn't keep up with the demand."

Lockhart said he will need between $30,000 and $40,000 to have a full-fledged urban farm up and running in six months. He is currently scoping out a few possible locations to lease for his urban farm. He hopes to break ground this coming spring.

If the urban farm proves to be as successful as he plans it to be, Lockhart will also look to hire staff to help run the farm.  

Any excess food from the farm will be donated to local food shelves, he added.

"I think I could expand and boost the economy of Oakdale if I did an urban farm," Lockhart said. "It's basically taking vacant land putting something both productive and pretty there."

In addition to the FedEx grant, Lockhart will also be launching a Kickstarter fundraiser to help raise the rest of the money. 

"I can get land outside of Oakdale (for the urban farm) in a heartbeat, but I want to do it in Oakdale," Lockhart said. "This is my home and there are people here who see a need for it." 

 

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Cindy Edwards Carmona December 03, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I really like that idea. I am very much a suburban city girl and I always enjoyed going to Jordans Farm as a kid. Now I have kids and I think they would love the idea of seeing an urban farm in Oakdale. PLUS....my husband (being farm raised) would love to see some organic veggies on the table. Sorry Rainbow, I think I would make the special trip to get his veggies instead. It's too bad they created this goofy road in the land were they bulldozed the old mall on 10 st. That would have been a cool location.

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