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          Urban farming in Cleveland: not far-fetched

          Michelle Udem

          Issue date: 3/5/10 Section: Opinion
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          Cleveland should change its motto to "when handed lemons, make lemonade." This town's municipal flag currently reads "Progress & Prosperity" - an alliterative phrase added to the flag around 1966, but I think the former phrase is much more illustrative of a town plagued with social and economic challenges while populated with a unique crowd of Cleveland diehards. The challenge at hand is the burden of a slew of vacant lots, foreclosures, a lack of pocket money, and a lack of will to purchase land. Fortunately, Cleveland-based innovators and investors have taken a strong interest in these empty lots, and have begun cultivating the land into urban farms. Like I said, lemons to lemonade.

          Urban farming may sound like an oxymoron, since farming is usually done in rural, verdant, open areas. However, moving the supplier closer to the demand-population has its perks. For one thing, the majority of the people actually purchasing the food have the opportunity to learn how produce is cultivated and raised. For another, the middleman-transportation costs are cut out of the equation. And let's not forget the access to fresh-off-the-vine produce. Cleveland's messy economy prompts innovation and exciting city projects.

          This spring, 58 Cleveland residents will start the process of redesigning vacant lots to be utilized as urban agriculture, natural landscapes and communal green spaces. Cleveland's Neighborhood Progress Inc. (NPI) gave the Re-imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland program life by raising more than $600,000 in funds and $100,000 worth of technical services from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The largest funding source, $500,000, came from the City of Cleveland Community Development Department - an impressive and courageous donation from the city, especially considering how the city loses tax revenue by giving up the lots for community purposes. The donation certainly reflects the personal hope and investment that the city has in this project, since the city clearly does not have millions pouring out of its pockets.
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          In This Issue


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