2017 proved to be an amazing year for Cleveland Roots!  We are so grateful and extend our gratitude to all who have been part of it.

COMMUNITY GARDEN…As the growing season got underway, we received news that we had been awarded grants that would make our Community Garden program a reality.  Neighbor UP! and Cleveland Climate Action Fund provided the funding to build 20 4′ x 8′ raised bed garden spaces at greenhouse headquarters in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. Neighbors and families from 20 Cleveland households each managed a raised bed and produced, on average, 150+ pounds of amazing and healthy vegetables and fruit throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Our garden reflects the beautiful diversity of our International Village neighborhood, including individuals born in countries throughout the world and the U.S.  Participants’ countries of origin include The Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Guatemala, Rwanda, Burundi, and U.S. locations including Texas, Michigan and Cleveland, among others.  Participants’ ages are diverse as well:  from 5 – 75+!  We have learned amazing things from all of our new garden friends and we thank them all for being part of the CR Community Garden. Garden beds officially closed in mid-November and we look forward to seeing our gardeners again in the spring. Many thanks to our grantors for their support!

EDUCATION…Our Soil Life Series Composting workshops this season were led by our friends at Rust Belt Riders. Nathan and Michael graciously taught participants about the science of composting, the food soil web, reducing household kitchen waste and making yards and gardens more healthy through composting. We appreciate their passion for this work and for reminding all of us about how the natural world works!  We are also inspired by the work they a re doing to make all of Cleveland a healthier place!

Our 2017 Community Garden Food & Garden Series included 6 classes on healthy food, cooking, and gardening for participants of our CR Community Garden as well as other members of the community who were interested in attending.  Topics this year included Preserving the Harvest, Winter Gardens, Stealth Health and more.  We finish the series with a Thanksgiving Potluck and a chance for participants to share recipes and stories.  Special thanks to Chef Giovanna Mingrone for leading these classes and sharing her love of good food!

RENOVATION…This year saw renovations to our Farm as well as our Headquarters in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.  We continue to repair and update buildings at the 17-acre Cleveland Roots farm, including adding an orchard with a variety of fruit trees and plants. Our chickens continue holding down the fort there, happily producing eggs on a daily basis!  Field crops were planted in 2017 as they were in 2016, and we look forward to expanding that operation next year.  Although competition with local deer at the farm was fierce, Cleveland Roots was able to donate more than 700 pounds of produce  from our fields to the Hope Center in Cleveland – a program of Building Hope in the City. More than 400 pounds of produce from our raised beds in Cleveland was also donated to the Hope Center in 2017.

HYDROPONIC GROWING OPERATION…Greenhouse #1 at Cleveland Roots has been renovated this year to accommodate our new hydroponic growing operation.  We are finishing electrical updates and starting seed tests in the new space. We look forward to renovating our store front as well, providing a place for all in the neighborhood to access fresh, affordable produce, as well as providing unique items, grown to order, for local chefs and restaurants.

SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH…We have met and worked with some amazing people in 2017 who are doing great things!

Stone Soup CLE – Chef Giovanna Mingrone continues to work with us and utilizes one of our coolers for her work in food rescue in the city of Cleveland.  Giovanna and her faithful volunteers are creating a network of donors and recipients to make sure food that would otherwise go bad is rerouted to people who can use it right away. The fast turnaround on these items is critical and Giovanna is an expert at connecting with people who understand and can help in this process, and who can receive the food and make use of it.  Find and like Stone Soup CLE on Facebook to learn more.

Reimagining Youth Summer Workshop – In 2017, we partnered with Stone Soup CLE, Apollo Outreach Initiative, and Zygote Press on a unique Summer offering:  Reimagining Youth Summer Workshop.  This innovative event took place for two weeks in July and involved 17 teenagers, including individuals who recently emigrated to the U.S. with their families.  Participants learned film production, stop motion animation, paper making, food rescue, gardening, food preparation, screen printing and more.  The creativity, community and fun that was generated was palpable, and we are so glad to have worked with everyone involved. Check out the mini documentary about the workshop by clicking on this link!

Local Community Gardens, including the City of Elyria Community Gardens and the learning garden at Iowa Maple School were an honor to be involved with in 2017.  Working with Sara Continenza and the students of Iowa Maple was a privilege, and we are glad for their success and care of the plants grown in our CR Greenhouse #1!  Thanks, also, to Bobby Jones, Jr. and the F.A.M.I.L.Y. Ministry of the Jones family for bringing us into their Elyria Community Garden family.  We were glad to partner with them in this project and look forward to helping in Elyria and in other community gardens in the future!

Last, but not least, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all of our volunteers this year who made the entire difference in the work Cleveland Roots accomplished in 2017.  To Anna and Miguel, Julie and Lisa, HandsOn Northeast Ohio, St. Ed’s High School, our Farmers Market volunteers, Case Western Reserve University student volunteers, and all who helped make 2017 such a successful year – thank you. We could not have done it without you!