Lately I have been reflecting on the following points related to the topic of the locally grown foods:
- As a region we spend $7,000,000,000 a year on food. Yes! 7 BILLION dollars yet less than 1% of that goes to local farmers and producers
- Local food purchases re-circulate money back into the regional economy
- Food is typically moved 1,500-1,800 miles from place of growth to place of consumption
- There are 200 community gardens in the Cleveland area
- In many disadvantaged neighborhoods, the nearest grocery store can be twice as far from the customer as the nearest fast-food restaurant
The great thing is that we are approaching this topic from a position of strength. Cleveland was recently ranked #2 in the nation in terms of local food production. Organizations such as the Ohio State University Extension, New Agrarian Center, Eco-City Cleveland, Cuyahoga County Countryside Conservancy and the Cleveland Botanical Gardens (among others) should be credited for building the current network of community gardens, food co-ops, Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers’ markets, advocates and supporters. They operate at the tactical level – testing soil, conducting workshops, engaging youth and operating distribution points called Fresh stops. As a group, they are also thinking at the strategic and policy level through the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition. In addition, Mayor Frank Jackson and City Council support community gardens. The seeds are being sown.
Be sure to check out the movie on small scale farming in Northeast Ohio called PolyCultures: Food Where We Live . It will be screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival on March 25 and March 26.