Increasing Urban Agro Production for Fun and Profit

Submitted by Jeff Schuler on Tue, 12/02/2008 - 00:05.
12/04/2008 - 18:00

Imagine large gardens in every neighborhood.
Imagine neighborhoods that grow enough fresh vegetables and fruit to provide for the people who live there.
Imagine yourself growing a large chunk of that food.
Imagine organizing friends and neighbors to grow the food needed in your neighborhood.
Imagine growing enough food to bring home 1 to 3 thousand dollars a week.
Imagine a better world with you a part of it.

Imagine yourself at AJ Rocco's this Thursday, 6 o'clock.

In an effort to continue a discussion begun at the NorthEast Ohio Food Congress 2 weeks ago, I [(Josh Klein)] want to invite you to a discussion about increasing urban agricultural production; specifically to discuss what will it take to grow enough produce to supply a City Fresh Fresh Stop, multiple restaurants, the CMSD central kitchen, local universities or to sell at a local farmers' market. Basically, we want to find out what it will take to get large scale urban agriculture up and running in Cleveland.

It is widely believed that attaining a high level of food security requires the bulk of our fresh fruits and vegetables to be grown as nearby as possible.

What will it take to claim our share of the $35 billion that is spent on food in Ohio every year?

Can we do it alone or are cooperative/collective efforts in order?

There is a demand- are you the supply? Can you help create the supply?

We all bring skills to the table whether we are farmers/gardeners or not.

Do you work with youth? Are you a young person yourself? Should youth play an integral part in developing urban ag?

Opportunities for large scale urban farming are ripe in Cleveland, let's pick 'em!

We in Cleveland are lucky enough to have a population decline, hereby increasing our available space for agricultural production. We also have many supportive individuals, non-profit organizations. Property values are at 1950s prices or better. More space is being created daily as houses are demolished.

Brainstorming, collaborating and idea sharing are definitely on the agenda. If you have a specific idea for an agenda topic at this meeting, please email it ahead of time [get.on.board.cityfresh(at)] so that we may organize the discussion accordingly.

RSVP: Josh Klein [get.on.board.cityfresh(at)]


A.J. Rocco's
816 Huron Rd, (in the Caxton Building)
Cleveland , OH 44115
United States

'Cultivating' a more robust collaboration on urban farms

This CityFresh led meeting sounds like a great way to create a larger and more collaborative discussion using those absolutely vacant land bank parcels citywide for urban farming.  This is long overdue - and the more people that can drive its execution in creative and grassroots fashion, the better. 

 For this to truly work it should be optimally collaborative and certainly involve as much of our city and region as possible in the discussion - so its good to see this developing. A very elaborated-upon plan for this has been worked on by many on realneo for a very long time - I think Neighborhood Progress's presentation to the Cleveland Planning Commision on Friday, the day after the Roccos happy hour discussion, to discuss their own? recommendations to Cleveland City Planning Commission on vacant land reuse strategies for Cleveland neighborhoods:


1) Urban agriculture

2) Ecosystem restoration/stormwater retention

3) Energy generation

4) Phyto-remediation of contaminated sites

5) Green space/recreation


we've elaborated on all these for some time on this site - but perhaps this will provide yet another strong reminder to the city of the necessity of this being done in coordinated, intelligent, and widespread fashion. Norm and I met with the CPCs key members, Brown and Collier about the need for this months ago - so hopefully this will hammer things home with renewed emphasis and gusto. When Norm and I met with Bob Brown and Fred Collier (in separate sessions), they were very open to this strategic use of vacant land properties and some ideas as to how this could be best incorporated with City Fresh and other key partners to become a true reality. As Bob Put it: "for this... we have plenty of land to give you".


Great to hear, and even better to see the energy around this. Norm's vision of using Milliken as an urban farming institute is spot on as well - but wherever that may happen, there will be a need, as Norm mentioned earlier to train thousands of urban farmers - and an evolution of the cirriculum base created and led by OSU Extension and City Fresh with their Market Gardener training certification could be implemented in much more robust fashion with introduction of some of the most cutting edge developments possible - like vertical farming and aquaponics, for example.


The phyto-remediation NPI mentions as core to their plan is very reminiscent of some of our prior posts like Susan's here and one of mine regarding creative mushroom and plant use to revitalize soils - and the raised bed model is certainly a smart way that has been the preferred design by City Fresh. Perhaps the latter, more prevalent method could be used transitionally until phytoremediation matures - or each could be applied on a case-by-case basis. Regardless, its interesting to see such an acceleration around this work - at three venues over the next week alone (Trinity Commons, AJ Roccos, and City Hall).


Looks like this week could be just the groundswell needed around this work - its been interesting working with leaders across sectors to facilitate and accelerate these outcomes and Norm deserves much credit, I believe, for agressively driving this effort in recent months.


 I certainly have many thoughts and plans created and still-to-create around how this could and should be done - so if I cannot attend Thursday I'll most certainly send these along. You should certainly note much of this which has been strategically discussed and demonstrated here on realneo for some time, as well.


Thanks for the information, Jeff - seems like there is a new session around this concept, demanding its implementation, every day these days! Hopefully it will happen in a truly coordinated and collaborative way - not a destructively competitive one.


AND finally... 

Who knows, someday, after the 'surface work' is wonderfully filled to capacity - along these lines maybe our region will be the first to fruitfully tap the opportunities with geothermal, 3D farming, and more - underground!   :-)   


 Imagine, indeed!

planning for scarcity

Richard Heinberg

Author Richard Heinberg forecasts what will happen to the globe when oil production, human population and the food supply all reach their peak. Hint: It’s not pretty. From Chicago Public Radio.

Just as I noted when Cleveland and Akron lost their glitz and glamour ballet companies - I said, NEO is ahead of the game, mothball that stuff. Now again I say we are on the leading edge - we have urban land to farm.  When we get past the denial phase, we can rejoice in our shrinking and the sustainable possibilities that exist. We're gonna have to put on our thinking caps, but when I read these articles at NYTimes: A Sea of Unwanted Imports and China’s President Cites Threat of Global Slowdown I wonder if we indeed need a big port, or will we be reconsidering using Burke Lakefront for necessary waterborne cargo one day?

Cleveland can become a transition town. Perhaps this is a more pleasant term than "shrinking city" for those who tire of the reality terminology. Totnes is providing an example.