Ophelia Woodard Richardson is a special woman to Mike Rollen.
She was a single mother to eight kids who grew food to make ends meet. She was a former sharecropper who became the first Black seamstress in her town. Ophelia was also Mike Rollen’s grandmother, who taught him and inspired his urban farm: Ophelia’s Blue Vine.
Ophelia’s Blue Vine Farm was founded in 2014 by Rollen on a vacant lot in the 18th & Vine District. The farm’s large greenhouse at 2416 Vine St. today specializes in growing fresh herbs, and often also has fresh produce available for purchase.
When Rollen was just starting out, he tested the land at his preferred Vine Street location and found out it was contaminated.
Over the ensuing few years, he nurtured the soil back to life while he rented out plots around the city to grow his herbs and spices.
A $30k grant from the city helped him rehab the dirt into fertile soil and $25k G.I.F.T. grant helped Ophelia’s scale up its operation, with more help on the way.
The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) created the Black Farmers Equity Initiative and chose 11 farmers for a cohort to receive eight weeks of training and access to capital, networking, certification opportunities, and the chance to work with NMSDC’s 1,700 corporate partners.
Rollen hopes to expand his footprint to 40 acres, and to be able to scale up Ophelia’s Blue Vine to national or even global distribution.
Where to Find Ophelia’s Blue Vine Products
Order straight from the Greenhouse at 2416 Vine St. in KCMO
Area Hyvee and Sunfresh locations
Get it delivered through DoorDashVisit OpheliasBlueVine.com for more info.