In May, the Athens Land Trust closed on a purchase they had been eyeing for a long time: the Williams Family farm on Ruth Street. For $250,000, the board bought a 5.87-acre working farm, smack in the middle of an urban area.
"At West Broad, we have only half an acre to farm," said Heather Benham, director of operations for the Trust. "Here, we have so much more."
Years ago, she said, the farm provided food for much of east Athens. The Williams family raised livestock and also produce.
The Trust plans to use the land not only for growing organic produce but also for educational efforts. They want to hire area people and help hone entrepreneurial skills, as they have at West Broad. The farm's location is key, Benham said, because it's accessible to those who get around on public transportation. A farm further out wouldn't have offered the same opportunities.
Plus, the land is adjacent to 5 acres owned by Athens Clarke County and used as a neighborhood park. In addition to acreage, the purchase includes two houses and two barns.
"It's going to take years to do all the things we want to do here," Benham said. "We're not going to do it overnight."