YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – This week’s Hometown Hero is a Youngstown native who helps others through urban farming. Her mission is to make sure people in our community have access to fresh food at locally-owned stores and markets.

Sophia Buggs is the owner of Lady Buggs Farm, which grows mostly natural plants and herbs in vacant lots on Youngstown’s south side.

Ten years ago, Buggs returned to the Valley and was startled by how much things had changed.

“It was very shocking to me when I returned back home a decade ago to understand the poverty levels here in the Valley,” she said.

So, Buggs reconnected to her passions for food and farming in order to help others.

“The thing that actually got me to grow food was my circumstance, which was being laid off from my job and rekindling my grandmother’s zucchini bread,” she said.

Buggs is also a Mahoning Valley Food Access coordinator, which means she does what she can to make sure everyone can get fresh produce grown in the Valley.

“Primarily, my role now is what I’m calling the ‘community stores’ and making sure that the community stores have fresh produce to get into our communities,” she said.

Buggs sees the potential for the people of Youngstown to make better use of their open spaces.

“Although there’s blight and there’s ‘nothing,’ it’s a perfect opportunity to just swell — to start from nothing and to build up,” she said.

Buggs thinks her urban farming can inspire others to do what she has done.

“I’m hoping that Lady Buggs Farm is the change that others would like to be, and to have an up-close and personal relationship so that they can either learn how to do it or pass on the same information,” she said.