Ruby's Garden

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 09/12/2010 - 16:52.

William and Sandra Brightwell live in Cleveland and grow bushels of produce each year.  They are not getting rich doing it, despite the current salvation myth of urban agriculture.  And, these folks know how to grow vegetables. 

If you would like to support their well-organized efforts--please visit them at the Gordon Square Market on Saturdays  9-1 or call them at 216.355.9223 to arrange a tour of their lovely garden.  The Brightwells go back and forth between Romania and the United States to visit Sandra's family there, where they also farm. 


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Agricultural zoning

I know that the City of Cleveland is working on an agricultural zoning overlay.  I would like to see the City of Cleveland actually support folks who have a proven record of growing produce and rewarding those folks with a considerable tax abatement or reduced tax rate through agricultural zoning .

Stories like this one just make my blood boil:

Urban farmers, advocates cite challenges in cultivating business ...

Aug 30, 2010




is an urban grower and network manager for


So for now, the half-acre farm that Mr.


started in 2008 is a


What qualifies these new urban farmers?  Overalls?  Have any of these folks spent years growing plants to understand the nature of farming?  No folks--this is a land bank/NPI snake oil story. 

To my knowledge, the City of Cleveland has two REAL greenhouse growers operating within city limits--Old Brooklyn 216.351.9338 and Apelt 216.267.5787 (off Grayton near the airport). 

How does the City of Cleveland support these growers zoned agriculture, if at all?

BTW-Brightwells make, at the most $100.00/farmers market, for their efforts at selling their produce. They give 5% of their sales to Detroit Shoreway CDC for advertising the farmers market.  It takes gas money, physical labor and considerable expense to grow and deliver the food.  The couple is semi-retired and they also provide full time around the clock medical care to an aged parent.  They can spend the time needed to prune and tend to the garden, but if you calculate out the time spent--these folks are barely recouping their costs.  The CDC wants them to take on more garden lots as a demonstration, but from my observation--there is no way they can do it.

Attracting young, able bodied folks with free housing and little to no taxes, might work as an incentive to grow the concept of locally grown food.  But, the challenge always remains--storage and delivery of food to markets.

Raspberries, Tomatoes, Peppers

The Brightwells have lost a lot of tomatoes because they haven't been able to harvest and store fast enough.  They have about five different varieties of tomatoes, dill and basil.  They have cubanelles, green peppers, hot peppers, grapes, raspberries and root vegetables that aren't ready, yet.  Sandra also makes kraut and rolls cabbage leaves in the fall for stuffed cabbage.  They like folk who stop by--because it saves them the hassle of setting up and hauling.  I got an amazing lot of food today.

Thanks Laura for the on site report

Your observations - and your images - are what make Realneo. 

Thank you.

Best, jeffb



Thanks JeffB--glad to see you here.  The Brightwells have garlic, too!  But, not ready, yet :)

Wow. That's hard work.

I spent most of the summer sprinkling cayenne pepper on my garden.  When I get home from work, my 4&6 year old girls tell me how they saw momma and baby deer spend all day eating daddy's garden.  oh well, it made their day (my girls, not the evil deer).  This topic makes me hungry.


And from now on I'm staking my tomatoes.  Those cages suck.  Great pictures, love the success.



The Deer Family

And the raccoon family and skunk family :)  Thanks for the comment DH.