Following is an update from Adam Donnelly, a rising junior who is one of three Scots serving urban garden internships in Cleveland, sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship. Adam is interning with Community Greenhouse Partners, an ambitious initiative that took over a huge abandoned church and its asphalt-paved property in the heart of east Cleveland last year and is attempting to turn it into an oasis of greenhouses, vegetable beds, and a forest garden. Sarah Kristeller, an intern working for a more well-established urban gardening program, recently sent in her own update which you can read here.
Things are moving along here at Community Greenhouse Partners. We are currently selling our products at four different farmers markets, are distributing to the local community supported agriculture group “City Fresh”, and have sold our products to multiple local restaurants. We are also in the process of finishing two new hoop-houses and building another from scratch. These new locations will give us more room to plant microgreens, which is becoming our most widely sought after product.
As far as what I am doing personally, I am trying to get involved in as many aspects of the project as possible. I have done lots of laying soil, seeding, watering and harvesting, but have also helped setting up the new irrigation system that will utilize rain water to water the beds on the north side of the site. I have also spent many hours at farmers markets and other events trying to not only sell our food but also let people know what we are doing and why we believe it is important. As I have gained more experience in how the farm runs and in how organic food is produced in general, I have been able to participate more and more in the brainstorming and decision making that goes into making the project move forward. I am no longer just taking orders, but also offering my opinions and suggestions on how things can be conducted more efficiently.
I’ve already learned an immense amount about the process of growing food. I know very, very little about biology or ecology, but the environment here at CGP has given practical knowledge in these subjects through loads of hands on experience. I have my own personal garden where I’m allowed to grow (or rather, try to grow) anything I want, and seeing what works and what doesn’t and then asking why, is very rewarding. I am always encouraged to ask questions, and I always receive informative answers. What is most rewarding about the knowledge I’ve gained is that I can almost immediately pass it on to others. There have been countless instances where a volunteer or community member has asked me a question that I was able to answer only because my environment allows me to receive an education in growing food, along with a job doing it.