Grow - Urban Agriculture in Cleveland
All over the country demand has increased for localized food systems that are more connected to a well-integrated business ecosystem. Over the last several years the increasing demand for fresh fruits and vegetables has given rise to new farmers markets and other produce outlets in the City of Cleveland. Strong local food systems not only support economic development, they also contribute to ecological and environmental health, social justice and local jobs. Farmers, food processors, and retailers benefit while keeping money circulating in the local economy. Eating local reduces the ecological footprint, decreases the need for packaging, supports the preservation of diverse heirloom and heritage varieties and reduces concerns about food safety. Most important – it is fresher, more nutritious and better tasting!
Learn more about the growth of Urban Agriculture in Cleveland:
Gardening for Greenbacks Program
In the summer of 2008, the City of Cleveland introduced and passed legislation which created the Gardening for Greenbacks programs that provides grants up to $3,000 to businesses, merchants, or local farmers. The program assists with the acquisition of tools, irrigation equipment, fencing, and other appropriate items needed for urban gardening. The grant is provided to entrepreneurs who sell their produce through local farmers’ markets or to local restaurants as a for-profit business basis. The program was created to advance the local food system agenda and establish Cleveland as a model for local food system development. In 2013, The Gardening for Greenbacks program grant amount was increased to $5,000. The grant amount was increased due to support from CoBank, AgriBank and Farm Credit Mid-America. These organizations visited Cleveland and toured urban farms in the City. After research on urban agriculture programs across the country CoBank, et al. chose Cleveland as the recipient of a sizable grant to Cleveland was due to the economic development component of the Gardening for Greenbacks program which set Cleveland apart.
Green City Growers
Green City Growers is a 3 acre hydroponic greenhouse growing leafy greens in the Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. The greenhouse will primarily produce lettuce and other leafy greens. It is expected to reach an annual production of 3 million heads. One percent of the production will be provided to the Cleveland Food Bank to be distributed throughout Cleveland’s east side. The donation is expected to provide approximately 240,000 meals annually. The produce is sold to foodservice companies, grocers and restaurants in the region.Six acres of City Land Bank property is being developed as an Urban Agriculture Incubator between East 81st and East 83rd Street, north of Kinsman Avenue in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. The site will include an instruction area where 20 prospective farmers will receive intensive training in urban agriculture, direct marketing, and business planning. The Department of Community Development will make 6 acres of land available for the program through its Land Bank program and manage the leasing of property to program participants. Each of the farmers is provided quarter-acre market garden plots for cultivation.
Rid All Green Partnership
Rid All Green Partnership, a minority-owned business founded by three local entrepreneurs, Randell McShepard, Damien Forshe, and Keymah Durden, and has become a key partner in the vision of the Urban Agricultural Innovation Zone. Their current facility uses urban agriculture to educate the next generation of Clevelanders about sustainable healthy living. The mission of Rid All Green Partnership is to transform communities by providing accessible and nutritionally rich food to improve overall health through training and educational activities. They currently harvest 150 to 200 pounds of vegetables per week during the peak growing season in the agricultural zone. They operate a self-sustaining food production system that produces over 100 pounds of tilapia and tons of vegetables per year through aquaponics, a year-round growing method. They have partnered with the West Side Market and Cleveland Food Bank to collect food waste for composting.