By Carol McCracken (Post 883)
“Cleveland, Ohio and other post-industrial U.S. cities can generate up to 100 percent of their current needs for fresh produce and other food items,” said a recently released report by Ohio State University according to “Sustainable Food News.” The study showed the impact of retaining millions of dollars in the local economy would create new jobs and spur additonal health, social and environmental benefits.
To find out how much of its own food Clevelanders could grow within the city limits, the City Planning Commission gathered the data on vacant land as well as the total rooftop surface area of industrial and commercial buildings -where greenhouses or hydroponic systems could be insalled.
Cleveland currently has more than 3,000 acres of vacant lots resulting from years of manufacturing job losses, the recent economic downturn and a high rate of home foreclosures. Parwinder Grewal, OSU processor of entomology and director of the Center for Urbana Environment and Economic Development who conducted the study said: “Cleveland is very progresive in urban agriculture, with more than 200 community gardens (about 50 acres) in existence and legislation that allows for beekeeping and the production fo small livestock within the city. While not trival, current local food production only accounts for 1.7 percent, ($1.5 million) of the $89 million Cleveland spends annually on fresh produce and 0/1 percent of the city’s total food and beverage expenditures. However, the potential for food self-reliance is significantly higher considering available space in the city.”
Several studies show urban agriculture can help boost access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables; cut obesity rates due to consumption of healthy food and increased physical activity; promote a sense of community and decrease crime activity; and raise property values as vacant lots are put to attractive and productive use.
The study, “Can cities become self-reliant in food?” was published in the journal Cities.
“Sustainable Food News” is the largest, on-line daily newsletter published for the organic food industry. For more information on a subscription, please contact Hill resident Dan McGovern at 207 – 749-5249.