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Mezzacello: A Home, An Urban Farm, and a Learning Lab

In the fall of 2013 Jim Bruner & Rick Riley bought an 1868 Italianate house and two vacant lots in downtown Columbus’ historic Olde Towne East neighborhood. The house had been abandoned three times in its 150 year history – most recently from 2009-2013 and the two attached plots had houses (and their stone foundations remain) but were now vacant and wildly overgrown but were blessed with south facing sunlight. There was potential but a great deal of work needed to be done.
Here is a quick blog post that neatly summarizes that original journey.

Converting the Grounds

From 2013 – 2019 the property was converted from weed and brush infested plots into a showcase of sustainability with a primary mission to build infrastructure, and offset food costs by 40%. The house also needed a complete retrofit from electric to HVAC to raising the 3” sunken northern foundations. Every corner of the space needed adapting and work.

Mezzacello is an urban farm modeled after Monticello with better technology, a focus on sustainability and all in a downtown setting.

The name Mezzacello comes from our vision of recreating Monticello, but with better tech and a smaller footprint (little Monticello). It is an urban garden, farm and ecological laboratory for food science, ecology, robotics, automation, and raising animals. In 2020 Mezzacello moved into phase II; not just a 21st Century urban farm, modeled after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, but as a teaching and learning lab for how to efficiently and sustainably convert any built environment into a sustainable enclosed ecosystem, organically.

The goal is to create a food and health oasis in the heart of a major urban city.

Gardens, Ecosystems, Education, and the Future of Food

The formal pretty gardens and the farm and livestock plentiful gardens, along with the house at Mezzacello merge and share ecologies with humans, plants, animals, and the built environment. Layered into this is a formal garden structure, private spaces, enclosed sustainable ecosystems, food gardens and energy and robotics systems.

Rick Riley | Mezzacello New fountain garden

The goal is to create a food and health oasis in the heart of a major urban city. We have dedicated ourselves to exploring and advocating nature, gardening, technology, and Applied STEM to create food webs and sustainable, dependent ecosystems. Our reset goal is to serve as a guide for building a healthy, robust green ecology in a densely populated urban footprint. We produce high-quality food, systems, and soils to feed our bodies, our souls and our community.

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello Plan view map of the entire farm of Mezzacello.
Jim Bruner | Mezzacello New Infrastructure and advanced gardens .

Our Educational Mission

Mezzacello is also a learning lab located in downtown Columbus. Summer camps, online resources, tours and even this website are leveraged to this purpose. Areas of expertise are in culture and planning for gardens, ecosystems maintenance and development, energy production (wind and solar), robotics and automation. Our impact has been profound and extensive.

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello Map of Mezzacello’s impact across Ohio.

Join us in our mission to change the world by making the story of food and wellness in our 21st Century world. Take a complete aerial tour of Phase I Mezzacello With the Mezzacello from Above link below.

Meet Jim and Rick

Jim Bruner

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

Sultan of Systems and Alpha Animal

Industrial and graphic designer, computer science major with a project management, military background. Passionate about Ag Science, culture, technology, and Urban Farming.

Rick Riley

Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

Southern Gentleman and Plant and Animal Daddy

Psychology and theology and now a tax agent. Father, grandfather, fine gardener, horticulturalist and animal and plant daddy at Mezzacello. Passionate about formal gardens and boxwoods.

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