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Let's Grow Cleveland

Jenita  |  01/24/12 @ 4:36pm

The City of Cleveland hosted a Local Food Fair in City Hall on Friday to launch 2012, The Year of Local Food. About 40 exhibitors representing farmers, farmers' markets, CSAs, local food enterprises, restaurants, and organizations that connect residents to local food were in attendance. The event was well attended by the general public and City of Cleveland employees alike. A good portion of exhibitors were small enterprises and entrepreneurs-real businesses that provide local, affordable, nutritious food options for Cleveland residents. Cleveland's leadership as a local foods hotspot is increasingly being recognized nationally and even internationally.  In fact, Cleveland got a mention in an article Salon published last week, Urban Gardens, the Future of Food.  

The premise of the article is that America needs to be taking urban agriculture seriously because it is our future. Cleveland's  seriousness is evident in the more than 200 community gardens, dozens of for-profit farms and gardens, double digit farmers' markets, and more than 60 acres under cultivation. All of this progress has been strengthened by the local food policy and programs implemented to date including: 

Because Cleveland is advanced in its urban agriculture policy and the movement toward a more localized food economy, the work left for us to do will require continued commitment, attention to equity, and fortitude for incremental progress. Here are a few opportunities for collective action (there are many more): 

  • Participate in the newly formed chapter of Cleveland Slow Money or explore other ways to support start-up local food businesses
  • Promote, track, and move the needle on import substitution of food
  • Support neighborhood self-determination and equity in land access and use
  • Increase institutional purchasing of local foods
  • Support local food infrastructure investments
  • Connect retailers with growers
  • Move the needle on the culture change needed to shift to 25% local

Our way forward is complex, granular and experimental and it illustrates that Cleveland is advanced enough to have already "plucked" the low hanging fruit of re-localizing the food economy through legislation, policy, grant-making, education and a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Let's Grow Cleveland.

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