Exactly one year ago today, we were handed the keys to St. George Catholic Church, and Community Greenhouse Partners went from being just a really good idea, to an amazing reality. It’s hard to believe how much we’ve done in the 12 short months since December 15, 2010, and we want to thank each and every one of you for your time, love, dedication, sweat, tears, laughs and vision. So what exactly have we accomplished?
We Bought A Church. That is, we purchased St. George Catholic Church, a 2.83 acre parcel acquired from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland which included a Church, an 8 bedroom house and a four car garage. For only $35,000. Not a bad deal. Thanks especially to the negotiating team of Sarah Reinbolt and Jon Eckerle for making this happen.
We Built A Forest Garden. Thanks to a generous donation from the Jones Charitable Trust of the Cleveland Foundation, The Thomas J. and Katherine T. Jones Memorial Garden replaced what was a half-acre of manicured front lawn with a thriving ecosphere using a permaculture-based design that combined 27 Fruit and Nut Trees, numerous support trees and bushes, “salad bowls” filled with native greens, and a patch of large squash better known as “Zumpkins,” all surrounding a beautiful Mandala Garden, in order to illustrate alternative means of planting and to educate the principles of Permaculture.
We Built A Hoop House. Purchased from Tunnel Vision Hoops and funded by a generous donation from Matt Fish, owner of Melt Restaurant, our first Hoop House, built in May, 2011, signaled the arrival of CGP to the neighborhood, and immediately became an attraction for the neighbors and a vehicle for not only growing crops, but teaching children about sustainability and earth science.
We Educated Students. More than 300 Elementary, Middle School, High School and College students have made their way through CGP’s main gate, spending time with us learning about permaculture, greenhouse maintenance, composting, vacant land initiatives and urban renewal, food deserts and food justice, and more. Classes ranged from short, one-hour sessions, to day-long workshops, to multiple week internships. On Tuesday, Dec. 13th we had a group of Twelfth Graders from Hawken School spend the day with us learning about the principles of permaculture and season extension. On Wednesday, Dec. 14th, we had a group of 25 sixth and seventh graders from St. Theresa’s Middle School join us for a discussion about food and environmental justice, and what CGP is doing to fight the food desert in our community.
We Sold Veggies. While not in great quantity (yet), we did make an impact in the local Farmers Market scene, setting up stands at the Coit Road Market in East Cleveland, the Gateway/105 Market in Glenville, and the Indoor Downtown Farmers Market at the Old Arcade downtown. We also sold Salads at the Hessler and Coventry street fairs, and sold at an arts bazaar at Trinity Cathedral where we also introduced a line of cutting boards that proved to be very popular. These were designed by Intern Paul Denison and were made by recycling lumber from broken pews in the church.We plan to make more in the upcoming weeks, while looking at other ways to upcycle raw materials on the property.
We Build Large Garden Beds. In total, we have installed nearly 4,000 square feet of raised garden beds, wherein we grew a wide assortment of leafy green vegetables, peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, beets, carrots, parsley and basil. Despite having trouble with the soil early on, and unseasonably bad weather for most of May and June, the beds were still able to produce one good season’s worth of vegetables, while teaching us valuable lessons about urban growing in Cleveland’s rough weather conditions.
We Bought A Greenhouse. On Monday, Dec. 12th, we took possession of a used greenhouse from the Chelsea Flower Garden in Middlefield, Ohio, thanks to a generous financial commitment from the family of Anna Marie Ferrato.. It is a Lord & Burnham Cypress Greenhouse, 25’ wide by 125’ long, which we plan to significantly re engineer and reassemble in the parking lot directly next to the farm house, connecting it to the house’s heating system. We hope to have this structure up and running by the end of December.
We Built A Rocket Stove. In order to answer the question that everyone asks — “How will you heat these things in the winter?” — we have built a “Rocket Stove” in the Melt Hoop House. The stove features a series of chimneys and exhaust tubes that transfers the heat from a 1,200° wood burning fire chamber built from recycled bricks from a kiln into a low “bench” made from natural earth materials called “cob.” The rocket stove will efficiently heat the entire hoop house, using less than a quarter of the firewood that a conventional wood stove and vents would use to do the same job.
We Raised Money. In total, we’ve raised more than $40,000 from foundations and individual donors including The OSTARA Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, The Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation, The PNC Foundation, The Pink Family Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, The Thomas J. and Katherine T. Jones Charitable Trust of the Cleveland Foundation, Neighborhood Connections of the Cleveland Foundation, The Cyrus Eaton Foundation, The Boduszek Family Foundation, and The Funny Times Peace Fund of the Cleveland Foundation Thanks also to members of our Founders’ Club, including Justin Alcorn, Dennis Coughlin, Paul Denison, Mary von Dorster, Jon Eckerle, Jessica Ferrato, Walter Genutis, Y-Von Griot, Pete and Debbie Gulyas, Laura Haggarty, Steven Isenberg, Brooks Jones Jr., Marcia Levine, Lauren Litton, Steve Louzos, Peter Machlup, Belleruth Naparstek, Edie Nelson, Jennifer Parker, John Parsons, Lute Quintrell, Mark Schumann, Benjamin Shapiro, Margaret L. Simak, Lawrence Simon, Carolyn Sloan Smith, Dwight and Rachel Smith, Timothy and Danielle Smith, Mitchell Wasserman, and Denis Zaharija. Without their generosity, we would not be where we are today. In 2012, we plan to significantly increase the number of names and organizations on this list.
We Plan For the Future. We have certainly come a long way, but significant work lies ahead before we achieve our goals of growing food year-round to sell at low cost to the neighborhood, create economic opportunities for those around us and teach sustainability and earth science to young people. There’s still time to make a tax-deductable donation before the end of the tax year, to help make these goals a reality. For more information, call Tim Smith at 216-926-4806 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 15, 2011 3 Comments