This is a peach tree planted in a tire at Buckeye Urban Farm. This farm stands on a once vacant lot along the Woodland/Buckeye stretch just east of the projects and graffiti-ed, crumbling buildings. Now it’s owned by the city and operated by the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. High school students harvest corn, kale, cherry tomatoes, green tomatoes, potatoes, and more from their plots and hoop houses.
Urban farms have been popping up not only in downtown Cleveland but in other rust belt cities with more vacant lots than they know what to do with. Here are a few articles that have been written recently about this “greening and cleaning” movement:
“Cleveland now has hundreds of community gardens. Some residents are growing market gardens, cultivating and selling produce as a full-time job. The city is seeing the grandest show of large public gardens since the Victory Gardens of World War II, when 40 percent of U.S. vegetables came from private and public gardens.”
“One Ultra-Ex project being led by the Cleveland Botanical Garden involves planting a vacant lot in the Buckeye neighborhood with low-mow fescue, a slow-growing pasture grass, and establishing a vegetative fence. Down the block is one of six learning farms that the botanical garden runs through its Green Corps program. With three acres under cultivation and 60 teenage workers, the urban farms will grow and sell or give away 15,000 pounds of fresh produce this summer, said the program’s director, Geri Unger.
The Buckeye garden includes raised beds, an herb spiral, a strawberry patch and a hardy kiwi vine snaking up the border fence.
It’s easy to convince the neighbors that an orderly, well-tended spot like this one has a civic value. Loraine Ingram, 74, has lived next door for 30 years. Of the community farm, she said, “I love it.”
I drive on this street from my apartment to the freeway at least a couple times a week, and it’s been great to see this piece of land transform from nothing to a thriving garden for the community. The high school kids sell their fresh produce every Tuesday from 12-4, so don’t forget to stop by when you have a chance!
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