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Melissa Young-Millsap, pictured above in April at Urban Roots, and her husband moved last week to Bentonville for a Farm Team project.
SBJ file photo
Melissa Young-Millsap, pictured above in April at Urban Roots, and her husband moved last week to Bentonville for a Farm Team project.

Urban Roots owners join Green Circle agriculture team

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The owners of Urban Roots Farm LLC are part of a new agriculture team assembled by Green Circle Projects LLC.

Green Circle, perhaps best known as the developer of Farmers Park in south Springfield, formed Farm Team to help grow local food economies in Missouri and Arkansas, according to a news release.

The six-member team is tasked with training and mentoring future farmers to run urban farms at the Noble Hill landfill north of Springfield and at Red Barn, a so-called agrihood with townhouses and flats in Bentonville, Arkansas, that Green Circle currently is developing. Agrihood is a portmanteau for agricultural neighborhood.

Husband and wife Adam Millsap and Melissa Young-Millsap, the owners of Urban Roots at 831 W. State St., moved last week to Bentonville to design and build a 2-acre urban farm at Red Barn. Young-Millsap told Springfield Business Journal that after the farm is developed, she and her husband would work to find and train a permanent leader for the property.

“We get to just start again from the ground up and put in a farm with all of the experience that we’ve learned here,” she said. “One of our big goals at Urban Roots Farm is to have this micro-urban farm that creates a working model of how it can succeed in the middle of where people live and play and work. It’s pretty much an expansion of what we set out to create.”

The Millsaps will continue to own Urban Roots, with five-year employee and manager Alyssa Hughes running the farm in their absence. Urban Roots produced $70,000 in 2017 revenue, according to past SBJ reporting.

“We see this as another opportunity for Urban Roots to also expand,” Young-Millsap said. “Alyssa has some great ideas, and I’m super excited to see what she’s going to do with it.”

Young-Millsap said after their work at Red Barn is complete, they’ll likely transition to other Farm Team projects.

At Red Barn, which is pre-leasing for the spring, the farm is expected to produce hundreds of pounds of produce per week, with the first round of vegetables available in May 2019. The development will have two movable high tunnels and a greenhouse that stores thermal energy in the ground to temper conditions during warm and cool parts of the day, according to the release.

For the Noble Hill project, Green Circle and Farm Team on Nov. 30 submitted a proposal to the city of Springfield for its agricultural accelerator — comprising greenhouses power by waste heat, irrigated fields and classrooms — on more than 60 acres adjacent to the landfill. After a 90-day review, the city will choose whether to accept the proposal and then enter negotiations on costs and timelines.

Farm Team members Mike and John Chiles, who are father and son, are leading the project at Noble Hill. There, the city’s accelerator is designed to train and mentor aspiring farmers who would have the option to lease greenhouse or field space at the property, according to the release.

The Chiles, who are from Springfield, have sustainable farming and green-building experience. The younger John Chiles previously led investor due diligence and deal screening for Seattle’s E8 Angels, which has invested more than $30 million into more than 70 startups in the clean technology and renewable energy industries. His father Mark is president of green-building technology and agriculture firm Emerald Operations LLC.

Along with the Millsaps, the other Farm Team members are Mark Bray, a horticultural consultant, and Jonathan McArthur, former manager for a fruit and vegetable farm in Rogers, Arkansas, owned by the nonprofit Samaritan Community Center, according to the release.

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