Local Food Cleveland

I am doing a little research about implimenting hydroponic gardening...if you can imagine the Galleria as a natural Greenhouse structure, Bright Farm Systems has developed a vertical integrated system, as well as the work they have done on the Science Barge in New York City assumed by Groundwork Hudson Valley and New York Sun Works. It is my desire to see the Galleria transform into a sustainable urban farm and environmental education center. I would also like to open it up to other farmers, or Garden Centers as there are carts that could be utilized to sell product as well as banisters to hang container gardens. Any suggestions or ideas would be welcome. If we implement the Hydrophonic garden, I am sure I will have to obtain funding, and then figure out how to keep it sustainable.

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Hi Victoria. This morning I was presenting two "plots" from PolyCultures: Food Where We Live to the Cleveland Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition. Afterward Carlton Jackson introduced himself to me and we discussed a variety of things for about half an hour, one of which was your idea to turn the Galleria into a greenhouse, which he felt was an example of a great idea expressed in the right forum (LocalFoodCleveland) that wasn't getting the attention it deserves. So I decided to check out this thread...

It sounds like a fantastic idea to me that I hope you really pursue, at least until it's determined how realistic it could be to make it a financially viable project. I was immediately struck by similarities between this project and the Cleveland Greenhouse Project, which I see someone else mentioned in the discussion. I've been getting to know the Executive Director of CGP, Tim Smith, over the course of the summer. They have quite a talented team already assembled and at this point are zeroing in on the vacated former Tops grocery store/lot in Glenville, just north of Superior. I was wondering if there might be a way for you two to join forces, though I know they're looking for a site that's in an area struggling with food access in order to be able to provide jobs, food, and education to that community. So it may not be a perfect fit, but it would really cut down on their very expensive projected construction costs if it could work. In any event, I really encourage you to get in touch with Tim about tapping his knowledge base and so forth. I'll refer him to this thread in a moment. Please let me know if I can help facilitate this connection or might be of service in any other way... best of luck!
I have to admit I'm intrigued, but also concerned about a number of issues that are all technical.

1. How would you get light inside? There is a very large building directly south of the galleria that casts a shadow on the building for most of the day -- and the Atrium, which would seem to be the natural fit is on the north side of the building, shadowed by the bulk of the rest of the building.

2. How would you heat such a huge space?

3. How would you distribute your product? Sell on site? Through a CSA? Local Groceries? And in answering this, you need to know who your targeted client base is, be they downtown workers, downtown residents, the homeless community, or suburbia?

4. Would you lease or buy?

We should probably talk, Victoria. I'd love to know how you plan to deal with these issues. I've been able to answer many of them for myself, but my situation is far different from yours.

--Tim Smith
Executive Director, Cleveland Greenhouse Project
Hi Tim,
Glad to see you came to check this out...I will try to answer some of your questions, however would also be happy to talk with you for further discussion.
1. I believe the building you are referring to is One Cleveland Center. I will start a catalog of photographs at diffent time intervels on a sunny day so that I can more acurately answer this observation. In general, I have worked in this building for 6 years, and have never felt shadowed by any of the buildings. The sun seems to always filter in from some direction during the course of the day, and I belive our initial plan was to have the hydroponic system on wheels, so that it could be moved throughout the common area to always acheive the right hours of sunshine.
2. The space is heated daily through a new central plant on the Towers second floor that was installed last year. The common space is fairly consistant and please correct me if I am wrong, but it is my understanding that hydroponic growing can be between 50 degrees and 80 degrees...which I believe we are.
3. We would sell on site. We would target to everyone...hoping to gain respect as a learning center.
4.I am working with the owner, so would lease.
5.my number is 440.225.0723...hope to hear from you
Tim, the Civic Innovation Lab is interested in our idea, and I need to confirm some of our issues...do you know of anyone that could come over to the Galleria this week to talk with us? I would appreciate any direction you can lead me. Thanks
Hi David,
Thank you for acknowledging our efforts. I attended the Sustainable Cleveland meeting last night hosted by Mayor Jackson on the Goodtime III. I had the opportunity to present our project to a variety of people, and everyone thinks it is a fabulous idea. You are correct to see our connection with CGP, and I would like to contact Tim. I have read about his group, and they have many of the same ideas. My biggest fear is the Galleria's lack of control of the elements and our interior temperature variable. I understand Hydroponic growing can be accomplished between 50 degrees and 80 degrees. I am not educated enough about the growing system to understand the impact on the plants when there are sudden drops.
Hi Victoria,

Some good points raised by David & Tim. As you look in to the light issue you may want to consider using a light meter (watts/unit area) to measure the light - this will provide you more accurate & useful info than will photographs taken during the day. Heating - you have raised the issue of renewable energy. Solar and, especially where the Galleria is located, wind are certainly worth looking in to. I realize the Galleria is massive but may I also suggest a look in to geothermal energy as a heating source. In this fuel environment it may (as other project have) pay for itself in a matter of years. Marketing - there are a number of organizations with experience operating farmers markets. You can look to City Fresh as a CSA outlet and North Union Farmers Market to oversee the onsite market. It would allow those directly involved to focus more on the growing end of the business. Just some thoughts . . .

Regards,
Bob Shields
Couple more thoughts based in part on Bob's reply:

There was a great report put out recently by a group of Case grad students calling themselves EGS (Empowered Growing Spaces) that details best practices of setting up a new farmers market based on dozens of interviews conducted internationally but mainly in NEO. It doesn't appear to be available on line and I just have a paper copy, but I could put you in touch with them if/when you're interested.

Also, in terms of marketing - personally-motivated pitch here ;-) ... LESS Productions (the company I work for and that made PolyCulturesin conjunction with the New Agrarian Center) would be very interested in documenting the process and/or promoting the project through video and/or 2.0 strategies if you're able to put together a budget for media.

David
Thank you David, I will keep this in mind...all good information coming in...
So, did this get funding or is it too soon to know? Are you aware of Sirna's Farm in Geauga County? http://www.sirnasfarm.com/index1.html?p=Hydroponics
Susan, we are working through our funding this week. We need someone to come out to the Galleria this week to talk with us about light levels. I have called Beth Fossey with OSU Exchange looking for a horticulturalsit. Any suggestions?
What about trying to recreate a tropical forest garden in there? Things like cacao, coffee, bananas, mangos, citrus?
I'd love to talk more about this.
Hank,
I believe the products that you speak of require growing conditions that we can't accomodate...being a facility that is controlled by variable conditions...HVAC..sun through the glass...hot spots...I have met with Carlton Jackson in regards to the installation of a High tunnel..that could possibly give us more control...I would be happy to meet with you at the Galleria so that you can see first hand what we are up against..As this is an experiment...and learning experience...I am always willing to fiqure out the HOW TO...

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