From Urbana Daily Citizen
Michael Family Farms has acquired the former site of Urbana Local and plans to construct an agricultural facility on the land at the intersection of state Route 54 and Hickory Grove Road.
The property was auctioned off by Urbana City Schools district for $75,000 after new schools were constructed.
The old school site will be home to two former students’ farming business.
Siblings Kyle Michael and Kathy Michael Sponheim purchased the former site and plan on starting construction this month on the 40,000-square-foot facility.“ We have recently been able to expand our operation in Champaign County,” said Sponheim in a prepared statement. “We have picked up some land and continue to look for additional irrigated acres to increase production. Demand continues to rise for locally grown food that is good for you, and our potatoes provide a delicious, nutritious, addition to any meal.”
Potatoes are the main fare of the agri-business venture, which is rooted in family.
“We are thrilled to be able to build two state-of- the-art potato storages and a grading facility to support our growth. The controlled atmospheric storages will hold 1 million pounds of potatoes that will be distributed to grocery stores across Ohio and surrounding states throughout the year,” Sponheim said. “The location is ideal for business but also holds special sentiment as our father Todd also attended grade school at Local as part of Urbana City Schools. With this facility, we will be able to better support a localized supply chain to deliver fresh produce with fewer food miles from farm to fork.”
Sponheim said growing a family business has its challenges. “However we feel very fortunate to be able to do what we love and do it together,” she said.
Todd has been active in the potato industry for decades and the passion for farming and agriculture was nurtured in Kyle and Kathy from a young age. Now taking over the operation, Kyle and Kathy plan to continue that legacy. Kyle recently was reappointed to serve on the U.S. Potato Board, following in both his father and grandfather’s footsteps.
“Our philosophy at Michael Family Farms is driven by putting family first; after that we are committed to growing the business, sustainable cropping practices and delivering complete service to our customers,” Sponheim said.