It's the last thing you'd expect to see along North Tryon in Uptown.
Soon, there will be a full blown farm just a few blocks from Uptown on North Tryon. Homeless people will be hired to harvest at the North End Opportunity Farm and the food will be sold locally.
Beyond the people and the traffic, there are plots of overturned dirt. It is the beginning stages of the North End Opportunity Farm.
The farm will produce vegetables, fruit and special tanks to raise tilapia.
Nate Cerbelli leased the plot of land after talking to Cassie Parsons about the need for a local food source close to Uptown.
“We have banks growing, we have concrete growing, I want food to grow," Parsons said.
Parsons is a farmer, chef and part owner at Harvest Moon Grille. All the food in her restaurant is sourced within 100 miles of Charlotte. A lot of it comes from gardens she helped churches and others develop in local communities. Opportunity Farm is the latest.
"It's been kind of neat to see this garden spot sort of evolve." Parsons said, "Now I'm going to be able to source some of our good ingredients and buy it for the restaurant."
Hilton Charlotte Center City will also purchase the food for its restaurant. It signed on to be a corporate sponsor to help pay for any equipment and the salaries of the homeless men and women who will be hired to harvest the crops and maintain the land.
“We believe wholeheartedly in getting this project off the ground. It's needed for Charlotte. It's these people to get them back to work,” said the Hilton's Business Travel Sales Manager Randi Cashion
Back at the farm, Eyewitness News ran into Larry Bowden and was the first to tell him that staff for the farm would only come from local shelters.
"That's a good thing. It's better than what some people are doing, you know what I mean," he said.
"Just because these people are homeless doesn't mean that they are hopeless. They are people that would love to have an opportunity to do something with their lives,” Cerbelli said.
It's an opportunity that could bloom on the farm.
Planting on the farm will start in February and hiring will start in the spring.
Opportunity Farm is looking for more sponsors to help get it off the ground. The Hilton Center City is hosting a special informative business reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 11. It will be held in the Coastal Restaurant and Bar inside the hotel.
For people interested in attending or who want to learn more about how to get involved with Opportunity Farms, contact Randi Cashion at 704-331-4366 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.