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Senator Brown takes up urban ag slash local food economy; Year of Local Food has deep resonance

Marc Lefkowitz  |  09/08/11 @ 1:58pm

· Senator Sherrod Brown will lead a discussion on what's needed to build a local food economy at Cleveland urban farming start up, Community Greenhouse Partners, this Friday, Sept. 9. The Senator wants to inform the debate over the 2012 Farm Bill with what cities like Cleveland need in order to achieve a BHAG on the order of 25% local food. The Farm Bill reauthorization is currently before the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

· Cleveland added to its urban agriculture base last week when the fruit orchard it won from Edy's Fruit Bars was planted on a one-acre vacant property in the Cudell neighborhood. The trees will bear fruit and provide food for local residents. The PD covered the story and did a nice job pointing out that this goes deeper than a singular event: "Detroit Avenue forms the ridge of a once-fertile basin sloping to Lake Erie, and the area years ago nurtured vineyards and fruit farms." Thoughts like that make urban agriculture more attainable. We realize that land, even hardscaped and abused urban land, has amazing capacity to regenerate life.

· Why are the most brilliant ideas sometimes the simplest? From Good ? "What Veggies Should Your Supermarket Grow"

New York-based BrightFarms, which builds rooftop greenhouses, hopes to turn a profit while cutting shoppers' "food miles" down to zero by growing vegetables where people buy them: the supermarket. They handle the labor and expense of farming-greenhouse design, construction, planting, and harvest-while participating supermarkets sign a 10-year contract agreeing to purchase whatever is grown on their rooftop. A store's rooftop garden can produce as much as 500,000 pounds of produce a year, BrightFarms told Edible Manhattan.

Which supermarket in Northeast Ohio can we imagine signing up for growing fruit and veggies on their roof?

· Cleveland's Office of Sustainability announced the keynote speakers for this year's Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit (which will gather more than 400 people to weave sustainability dreams into action from Sept. 22-23).

The focus of the summit includes what happened during the 2011 Year of Energy Efficiency, and starting a conversation about the 2012 Year of Local Food.

Local food has the potential to capture a wider audience than perhaps any other area carved out in the 2019 initiative-and so 2019 has an opportunity to break into the mainstream consciousness next year. Food is personal but also communal; we want to share our experiences with others, we seek a deeper connection through the choices we make about food at the market and in the experience of preparing and sharing a meal. As the organic and locally grown momentum grows here in Northeast Ohio, we see the potential for a spin off effect for not only the low hanging fruit in the sustainability basket-excitement can build and blossom into how we live.

· Yesterday the Ohio Supreme Court granted South Euclid citizens the right to vote on November 8 to repeal Ordinance 05-11, unanimously passed by South Euclid City Council on June 27, 2011. The ordinance rezoned the South Euclid portion of the former Oakwood Country Club from R-75 (Residential) to C-2 (Commercial) to accommodate the property's development as a big box retail shopping center. The court said that South Euclid must either rescind Ord. 05-11, or put the issue on the November 8 ballot for the voters to decide. Read more about the legal battle to define a defunct golf course as a green space

· Environmental writer Bill McKibben and the nation's preeminent climate scientist, NASA's James Hansen were jailed for taking part in a massive protest in D.C. last week over tentative State Department support for a pipeline that would move Alberta Tar Sands oil across the U.S. to Texas. After his release, McKibben took on the well-healed (and funded) Manhattan Institute's Robert Bryce on PBS NewsHour over the pipeline, which Hansen calls, "game over for the climate". Many see this as the defining moment in the presidency of Barack Obama who has the final say, and who pipeline opponents are pointing out, promised on his nomination night "in my presidency, the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will begin to heal."

· Retooling America: Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing webinar on September 14 looks at the less controversial brother to the stalled residential PACE program-a funding mechanism that allows companies to install energy efficient and renewable energy improvements on commercial and industrial facilities with 100% private capital. Local business consultancy BrownFlynn are organizers.

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