Attention REALNEO Shoppers

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 07/23/2008 - 02:00.

Even though I've known City Fresh farmer Maurice Small for years, and plan to be one of his "Fresh Stops", I hadn't been to one, so decided to stop by my neighborhood Fresh Stop, at Huron Road Hospital, to see what the excitement is about. It seems to be simple... it's the food. But it is more... it's the connections of neighbors with their place and with fresh local food.

While I was at the Fresh Stop, I overheard two elderly ladies discussing how to prepare beets... one of today's featured foods. And the Fresh Stop organizers seemed ready to offer their suggestions, as well. And everyone there, young and old, seemed excited to be gathering around a place dedicated to this thing... this experience... this connection.

And, though it is only a parking area of a hospital, with a patch of land nearby, local fresh food is found at more than just the Fresh Stop, one day a week, but in a lovely fresh foods garden, and an apple tree bursting with nearly-ripe fruit.

And yes, all this is in East Cleveland. And probably in your neighborhood... check the list of Fresh Stops here.

 

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new agrarian center - East Cleveland

A couple of things coming together for me here in response to your post. These ideas are surely self evident to many, but I thought I'd connect the dots for my future reference.

A couple of years ago, Norm, in response to a local food Thanksgiving post by Evelyn, you mentioned market bags - an advertisement you had seen in Toronto. I reminded you about City Fresh and Maurice and The New Agrarian Center. You were living in Ohio City at the time I believe and were wondering about the lead content in the cilantro there in the community garden you and Evelyn participated in as growers. I can't find that you had posted it here, so maybe we just spoke about it when you joined me and Julia Barton and Brad Melzer to discuss lead remediation in NEO soils, but there was a concern about the lead levels in the cilantro and other produce you might be harvesting from that site. There is certainly a concern about lead and other pollutants in the Cleveland soil.

So you moved away from Mittal and farther away from the valley where Sherwin and Williams' spouted their lead dust for decades to the challenging city of East Cleveland. Now you and Evelyn have an "Edible Estate" in EC.

When I met Martha, she had been involved and interested in helping seniors at the Helen S. Brown Senior Citizens' Center to garden a lot across the street from the center. You and Sudhir and Philip were helping seniors to cross the digital divide by bringing them computers and teaching them how to stay in touch with relatives via email and to use the internet - broadening and expanding what can sometimes be an isolated existence.

So there are a few things here. Getting out to the market day for seniors (and everyone) can be an important participatory exercise in community development - Stone Soup. But some cannot get out to the market day. Those folks will need meals on wheels (might be two wheels) and it may not have to be meals, but simply food on wheels. Is there a way to combine the outreach to seniors in East Cleveland who are still living at home - to bring them computers and market bags? Can East Cleveland (with Maurice's wonderful formula for bypassing the polluted soils) now be a place for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)?

Perhaps many urban parcels can be cultivated and the food sold at Fresh Stops in the city on particular days, but some will not be able to visit them. They could, however, have bags of produce delivered to their homes by young entrepreneurs on bicycles (with panniers or trailers). Motor vehicles could be used in winter months. Recipes could be tucked into the bags as suggestions for the mix of produce. Maybe this is already happening. I found this in Lakewood, but don't find other local food deliveries in NEO with an online presence. Help!

I am just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me that the homebound could use fresh food as well, and they could, as you already know, benefit from some sort of interaction with the world with regular visits by something more interactive than their televisions and telephones.

Dear Rob, Let's connect McGregor and City Fresh

Rob Hilton
President
McGregor Foundation
East Cleveland, Ohio 44112

Dear Rob,

There is considerable progress being made to bring fresh, locally grown food to the people of East Cleveland, including to the many senior citizens there who your foundation and McGregor Home serve. We see growing through this a cultural revolution that offers transformational interganerational opportunity for families to escape poverty and improve their health and multigenerational quality of life, by remaining in and improving the community... through urban farming.

There are several ways McGregor may play an important role in expanding the impact of urban agriculture in our community, including:

  • parnering with City Fresh to farm much of the land of your campus, now planted with more costly and less environmentally and socially friendly grass
  • involving your stakeholders in the farming process
  • hosting a Fresh Stop at McGregor
  • assisting City Fresh to establish a Fresh Stop at Helen S. Brown and bring fresh local food to their stakeholders and food service, and expand farming on their campus
  • supporting further expansion of urban farming in East Cleveland, and beyond, through advocacy and investment
  • parnering with City Fresh to bring fresh local food to senior citizens and families unable to come to a Fresh Stop
  • making McGregor and your stakeholders Fresh Stop and City Fresh customers, including buying local food from City Fresh for your food service at A.M. McGregor Home.

Perhaps you already have such initiatives in mind and in process. If not, I'd appreciate the opportunity to connect you with Maurice Small, of City Fresh, and discuss formal ways to forward these exciting developments enhancing the economy, health and quality of life of our community and residents, and your global community. Please feel free to post some perspectives here, or we may discuss at your convenience.

Best regards,

Norm Roulet

Star Neighborhood Development

Disrupt IT