Local Food Cleveland

Dear Friends,
Happy New Year! Hopefully everyone brought in the new year with a bang and is ready to hammer out a plan to tackle all the great ideas that were put forth at our first meeting.

To continue and encourage the high energy that we discovered on December 4, we agreed to hold monthly gathering every first Thursday.
January's gathering will be this Thursday, January 8, 6-8 pm at A.J. Rocco's. (As some of you noted, acoustics were not too good so we will try a different seating arrangement. With the hectic holidays I was not able to secure another centrally located, long term, free meeting place. Please bring any proposals for a regular meeting space which we could use.)

As loose as that first meeting was, there seem to have been some common themes.
To recap and summarize, this is what I took from our discussion(s).

-Urban Growers' Association, what will it be...
-Land Access, it's all over the place, how is it secured for use...30,000 vacant lots and rising...
-Farmers' Market Consortium, organizing "non-North Union" markets...
-Marketing & Supplying, marketing "Cleveland grown" produce, the "Cuyahoga Co. brand", there is a market for fresh, locally grown produce and we can grow it...
-Education, ourselves and others, youth, institutions...
-Legislative and Regulation Concerns, reality, perhaps a legal advisory counsel...
-Communication, www.localfoodcleveland.org

-Social Justice was mentioned in at least 2 topics. Although it seems that equality and respect are two qualities that ought span all things which we endeavor to accomplish.

If you have a topic that I missed or you would like to add, there will be time at the beginning of the meeting to add topics to the agenda. You can also email me in advance and I will send it out to the list.

I am looking forward to seeing all of you again. Please bring a friend or two.

Josh Klein

Tags: ag, thursday, urban

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Hi Josh,
There is a possibility I can make the meeting, but what is the address of AJ Rocco's?
AJ Rocco's is at Huron and E. 9th. the exact address is 814 Huron,
Jody, I hope you can make it to this. I'm afraid that I didn't email you about the first gathering and I am sorry about that. I hope you are interested in the farmers market consortium. Anyway, talk to you soon I hope.
No problem, Josh.
It's hard for me to make it to make it to too many meetings, anyway...
I'll do my best to be there Thurs.

I thought the first meeting was great and it was a pleasure meeting you. I'll likely be by again. Just a few words regarding the Social Justice opportunity here. I love how you make clear all of us should treat one another with respect and equity in all things, and that is most definitely a fantastic foundation for the type of culture to best support social justice along with sustainability. There are many key points to speak of along these lines, and I wouldn't mind a few minutes to speak to these, but even if not, I hope members will read this paper I wrote as part of Research ShowCASE years ago (which won :-). Most importantly, it broadly defines key principles and a particularly effective and efficient and novel organizational structure to mesh with these - both enabling greater levels of global citizenship, sustainability, and, we would hope, social justice. I would hope this network would consider inculcating many of these should they merit consideration and fit the prevailing culture here adequately - which they should. For those who might want to glimpse a future vision of where this might be headed, given trends and potential
of technology along with continued focus on sustainability and local food production, these concepts are discussed in a piece I wrote here, integrating much of my theoretical and research work.

One very specific opportunity in the Social Justice arena that is I am working on is the development of relationshiip and communication channels with institutions who deal with the underprivileged and disadvantaged as well as our incarcerated. Second chances and forgiveness are fundamental to driving positive change in this domain, and we talk of
equity and empowerment but we have yet to build and maintain the necessary infrastructure to allow and maintain justice for the underprivileged or incarcerated. Urban farming and many other aspects of local economy would provide meaningful and productive employment to those who need this empowerment, inspiration, and legitimacy most.
These activities and training therein are also an excellent fit in terms of learning curves and therapeutic value, given the uptake and acceptance of compromised populations of this culture and way of life.

So certainly, we all need to place some focus on inclusion in designing and implementation of this infrastructure beyond the level of the CUDC/NPI pattern book and guidelines. It speaks to the proper outreach I am developing now with second chance, third strike, and prison programs, not to mention a plethora of other social services institutions. The ball is rolling but further mapping, outreach, and effort is needed to connect such populations in meaningful ways to all kinds of green workforce opportunities reflective of urban, local economy.

As a final thought, imagine the opportunity presented when such a diverse grouping of groups and subcultures works in unified way through urban farming and sustainable guidelines toward the grandest and most unifying opportunities
yet envisioned
. Inspirational and boundary-transcending are adjectives that come to mind.
For those that cannot be at tonight's meeting, perhaps details/info could be posted later? I'm new to this group and excited to participate but not able to be there.

Thanks so much!
Anna - No problem. first on the agenda is to solicit a volunteer note taker.
Sudhir - Inspirational and boundary-transcending indeed! I can't wait to read your piece.
OK, I'll just say this...
I'm seriously concerned about corporate (oh fine - *foundation* whatever) co-option. I did notice that corporate "players" jumped into every sub-committee. I've also noticed that the foundation granting the land acquisition process by CUDC/NPI has a long history of doing quite well while operating "institutions who deal with the underprivileged and disadvantaged", having made a boatload of cash doing so - and thus their status as a foundation.

So, not to be Debbie Does a Downer, but I think we should be VERY careful before we acede such a high level of participation by foundational, top down oriented, organizations. I expect urban gardening, agriculture, farming etc to revolutionary, not "steered" by interests and their underlings who have not a fricking idea what its like not to know where your next meal is coming from. Our organizing is one of the most important and fundamental elements of a strong working poor class in our society and I'll be damned if I will be someone's pet.

I'll also be equally damned if someone takes hard work and effort I do (without pay) and credits it to their "proactive, progressive, pet project" while they are pulling down $70k a year watching me do it.

As an ie - why should our local urban farmers be asked to "volunteer" two years of their time to teach community gardeners how to garden? Shouldnt they be paid? Isnt that disrespectful to even assume they would do it for free? - its all about priorities isnt it? How can we assume the foundations and their underlings respect those who do the actual hard work and hold the real knowledge? Is this worth a few dollar load of compost?

Another ie - if you read the Neighborhood Progress, Inc working with the Urban Design Center of Northeast Ohio draft you will see the steps to the standardization of the land acquisition process:

1) identify ways to reuse abandoned properties -
• in the city’s land bank
• in the hands of private owners who might be interested in an opportunity to convert it

2) mapping the sites and

3) meeting with residents to listen to what they want,

4) tap a major grant (pre-selected, in this case the Surdna Foundation)

Step 3 : “meeting with residents to listen to what they want” should be present in each and every step of the standardization process. I also would ask to what degree are we (as Urban Growers) willing to sacrifice our say in the decision-making process and what level of autonomy are we comfortable with? This could possibly become an important issue in the very near future of the Cleveland Local Growers Association. Are we to allow our decision making process to be directed?
Dear Debra,

I'm the fellow who was in the "Jesta" hat at the meeting...I don't think we met and/or talked...I'm sorry we didn't.

First of all...thank you for your post...it really resonates for me on many levels...particularly about the "co-opting" by the institutional/corporate type/top-down types...who...as you so eloquently put it (to paraphrase) have not "lived the life"...who have never gone to the West Side Market to forage for veggies and fruit deemed not salable (I'm part of the Catholic Worker Whitman House of Hospitality which does this several times a week)... nor has a clue what's like to exist on the bounty of food stamps.

I was equally concerned by my perception that 15 or so of the "growers" (out of the approximately 45 or so people present) did not seem to be interested in the concept of social and economic justice

You have to forgive me...but as an old radical of the '60s and '70s...and now a young radical of this new era...I am equally pissed off at the issues you raise. I'm sorry that I didn't get to finish my comments (which you may remember had to do with racism/classism/white supremacy) at the meeting after that woman jumped all over my small ass...and I'd like to flesh them out...but not here...not at this moment. Perhaps we could briefly talk...via email (jesta4justiz@gmail.com)...or via phone (216/651-2236...I don't have caller I.D. on my "poor people's phone"...$8.16/mo) if that's something you might be interested in.

Are you saying that CUDC/NPI and the "foundation" need to be hoisted on their petard?

I am particularly pissed...after finding out at my meeting with Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization...that the "price" of land I need to implement my business/programs is to be determined by "market values". Then again...Cleveland real estate should be really cheep...I'm going to do my own independent research and look at different ways of creating Locavorius Farm...I have some ideas...perhaps you might have some suggestions too?!

If I didn't mention it before (which I probably didn't...as an aside...or corollary...I hate the concept of "ownership"!

OK...my rant is over...tnx for indulging me!

I'm going to put my love into finishing a curried/gingered potato/cauliflower/carrot/purple cabbage/red pepper/spaghetti squash casserole for my friend's wedding...and then go out and wreak havoc in my snow covered parking lot.

All my best...and thanx again for the stand you take in mattering!


Bob Steinhardt/Jesta4Justiz/Locavorius Farm

Forgot...I will listen to your show...sounds interesting. I too "worked" in radio early on in my life...first at NYU and then in "commercial radio".

Also forgot...do you know Meagan and Uma of Gather 'Round Farm? They have egg laying chickens!

And...now that I look at your pic...it seems to me that we have met before but I can't remember where or when.

OK...off to my victualization.



Oops...I may have mispoke...there might have been some growers who were concerned about the social and economic aspects of urban gardening.



Your first post refers to "social and economic justice" while your second post refers to "the social and economic aspects of urban gardening." Have you ever considered that some people might be offended that you seek to dictate to them what they should or shouldn't be doing and whether they are "socially correct" or not.... Particularly when you don't even really know anything about those people.

I find it interesting that you call Locavorius Farm a business yet you are upset that Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization wants to charge you market price for land they control. Market price is what competing buyers in the marketplace are willing to pay for something. Setting aside the question of how they came to control that land, if you don't like the price then get the land you want somewhere else. It'snot like there isn't plenty of land in Cleveland. You can't claim to be a business and then demand that you get to dictate the price someone is going to sell you something. I really get the sense that you think they should just give you the land because you ask.

At the risk of offending, I don't think you understand what it means to be a farmer...urban or otherwise. It means dragging your butt out of bed at all hours of the day or night to take care of animals...365 days a year whether you are sick or tired or whatever. It means being out working in the weather regardless of what the weather is..... because the crop won't wait. It means watching your hard work ruined because of a storm or an early frost....and not a thing you can do about it. Perhaps you don't know that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations around..... go to a place where farmers might gather and take a careful look around. Good chance you will notice missing fingers or even hands and other injuries that are pretty common. So before you cut loose with your attitude about what a farmer/grower owes anyone you might try a little more humility and a lot less attitude. How much of your own food did you produce this year? How much did you produce for anyone else (I mean grow, not scavenge)?

This isn't to say I didn't enjoy talking with you at the meeting. Just remember that when you start to tell me what I have to do you simply won't get far at all. If other people buy in to that, more power to them.

With regard to Debra's comments, this is one of the reasons that I generally tend to prefer doing my own thing rather than getting entangled with organizations. As far as I'm concerned, the best thing I can do as a producer is to provide a quality product at a price people want to buy at. What I give to anyone and who I give it to is a seperate issue.

This is one of the reasons I'm wary of CSAs (not to say that they don't work for others). I view CSAs as transferring the risk from the farmer to the purchaser. I prefer to take that risk myself. If I don't produce a crop I don't get any money. It makes things real simple and straight forward.

If you feel that others are making something unjustly from your volunteering, change what you are doing or how you are doing it.

I have a much more open and tolerant view of people at the meeting. To the extent that I find common ground with various people I will engage with them. To work with one person on one thing does not mean I cannot work with someone else on another. The fact that I'm not in a position to engage with others is not a reflection on their potential worthiness but simply means that it is something I'm not in a position to do/get involved with for whatever reason.

There are plenty of interesting viewpoints. The ones I found most interesting were the people from various neigborhoods speaking for themselves and their needs/wants rather than the ones where people claimed to know what others need or should do.

If people from foundations wish to participate I'm not against it. Even small doses of politicians might not be a bad thing. If we have a spring or summer meeting on some ground where stuff is growing I'll even loan them a hoe.

To the extent that people (whether corporate, foundation or "social activists") try to dictate to me I will smile at them and ignore them. Folks are certainly entitled to speak their mind but that doesn't mean those of us listening are obliged to be dictated to....by anyone. As far as I'm concerned, each person at the meeting is one person and they speak for themselves. At the end of the day, what counts is not what a person talks about but what a person does.

Just a few thoughts that I'm sure will resonate with some and offend others.

I'm looking forward to the next meeting and in the spirit of Jeremy and Carl bringing food to this meeting I plan on bringing something to the next meeting....probably honey and corn bread. It seems odd to talk about providing food and not actually indulging at these meetings.

Thank you both, Bob and Mike. To be honest, I tried to go back and delete my post. Not because I changed my mind, but because I am fearful of being judged for my words.

I really do believe we need to seriously consider the influence of foundations posing as non-profits and our local government in our group. I understand we need money, but I also dont think we need to sell ourselves cheap, we all have more self-esteem than that. I see a tendency to assume farming/gardening/loving and respecting our earth and learning to live by its rules as opposed to our own as a novelty, unvalued and misunderstood.
Question - why is it people can make very good money designing a web-site, but not a garden?

I'm also concerned with the rapid growth of "foundations" which are often simply a tax shelter/vanity show/guilt release for people who made way too much money off the backs of working America the past twenty years. They seem to be the avenue of choice for governments wishing to dump their obligation to their growing subsistance population. The difference is the foundations have absolute control over their money and can be partial, biased and as discriminating as they like, while governments are presumably held to a different standard.

On that note, and in response to Bob's remark that DSDC is demanding market price for landbank lots, consider the transfer of a Tremont landbank lot for $0 to a development corporation to build a 4BR, attached garage house on a 30' frontage property (parcel #004-22-094 - transferred 06/08). I dont think $0 was market rate and I know there are numerous other transactions of landbank lots to developers in Tremont - certainly a "prime development area" according to land use policy standards.


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