Nathaniel Neading (pictured above with Emily Keller) knows ideas can pop up in unexpected places. While on a 2017 academic study trip in Suzhou, China, Nathaniel toured a hydroponics operation. This method allows plants to be grown in sand, gravel or liquid, as opposed to soil. It was touted as a way to provide fresh food for large populations of people. As the students walked through the facility something the operator said made Nathaniel stop in his tracks: “People pay good money for fresh greens”.
Back in Ohio, that thought wouldn’t let up. Nathaniel eventually teamed up with Emily Keller, and Ben Stacy. The three became partners, created a vision, and founded Locality Craft Farms in 2020. Nathaniel is CEO, Ben is VP of Business Development, and Emily is Chief Science Officer. The name “Locality” comes from a core tenant of the company to represent all things local. “Craft Farms” comes from the fact that unique, high quality crops will be grown outside of traditional agricultural means.
Recently the business established roots in the southwest end of Canton, 948 High Avenue SW. Thanks to the generosity and assistance of local developer Steve Coon, a beautiful brick building in need of attention will house plants growing on the inside, as opposed to the lush vines currently snaking up the outside walls.
Spinach, butter crunch, and romaine lettuces in their full form will be grown in addition to microgreens such as amaranths, radishes, and the popular spicy mix. Other greens and herbs may be added, according to popularity and demand. Nathaniel plans to be able to scale up production quickly or pull back equally fast, so product isn’t wasted.
The team has begun to reach out to some restaurants and chefs. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) memberships are on the horizon. Local grocery stores will also be approached. But first the building needs work, and equipment needs purchased and put in place. Then the real growth begins. The current goal is to be far enough along with the building to begin production in mid-February.