Acres is a great publication for beginning farmers and folks who want to improve the health of their gardens. The article features a re-cap of the work I am doing in Cleveland and some experiments I hope to do in Central Appalachia.
This is the second article I have written for Acres, since I visited an organic blueberry farm in Glenmont, Ohio, and wrote about Phillip and Margaret Nabors. I often talk to Phillip about my gardening projects, since he knows so much about growing organics.
In compiling this post, I also wanted to include a link to my photo album from a summer workshop I presented before heading to Mullens. I had teamed up with the International Services Center downtown, which is a nonprofit that provides social supports to new residents of Cleveland. Here, the refugees are learning to grow vegetables in urban gardens. During the presentation, I taught several clients at ISC how to make compost for their community garden in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood. Soon they will be ready to start experimenting with their own winter and spring plantings.
I also have a small compost bin in my backyard, so every time I make another trip to West Virginia, I bring a batch of fresh compost with me. I will be preparing some winter seeds under grow lights, so we can plant the starters in raised beds.
About six months ago, I finished up my spring project with the kids at Near West Intergenerational School. The school is part of the Breakthrough charter schools network located on the west side of Cleveland, in Ohio City.
There is a reason this school is successful. Administrators are big on thinking outside the box, and Breakthrough clearly has a model that works. If you didn’t see the paper last week, you didn’t get a chance to read how Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is donating another $10 million to these schools.
These kinds of things excite me. Whenever I see a community stretch beyond its norm, our kids have a much greater chance at a brighter future. I look for good things to come out of Breakthrough and its involvement with Cleveland’s District Charter Compact. I only hope what I have learned here can be transferred to other underserved populations as well.