Slavic Village seeks green thumb to oversee half-acre community garden

Ever thought about starting a community garden? Or how about starting your own urban farmers market? Well, Slavic Village Development is looking for someone with an agricultural mind to take a half-acre-plus plot of land on Union Avenue in Cleveland and build a community garden or urban farming operation.
 

Union Avenue residents operated the 27,000 square feet of land at 7308 Union Ave. as a community garden from 2008 to 20014 before the garden founders moved on. In 2017, Cleveland Blossoms ran the garden to grow specialty cut flowers but decided to give up the effort.
 

“It’s a lot of work,” says Joe Linsky, Slavic Village community engagement coordinator. “For a couple of years, we got people in the neighborhood to take it over, and last year we did a project with Cleveland Blossoms, but they were in a little over their heads.”
 

Abby Singletary, an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) with Slavic Village, says the property, which is leased from the city of Cleveland for $1 a year, has gotten a bit overgrown, and some repairs are needed, but the search for a new, enthusiastic urban gardener is once again on.
 

“Since the space has been abandoned for some time, it has become overgrown, and there is a small part in the fence that needs to be fixed from a fallen tree limb,” she says. “However, we are going to work on getting some of that overgrowth cleared and fix the fence before someone takes it over.”



 

The land is fenced in and comes with a 50-foot-by-30-foot hoop house, running water, and a shed. “It would be great for it to be retained as a community garden,” says Linsky. “Next would be someone who is trying to grow for a restaurant or a farmers market. [We want] someone who is going to utilize the whole space and bring some kind of economic activity to it.”
 

The one thing they aren’t interested in is developing the land for something other than a garden, Linsky says. “A lot of money went into the garden, and the hoop house was a big expense,” he says. “If someone wants to build in the neighborhood, we’ve got plenty of other space.”
 

Linsky thinks someone like Tim Smith of Community Greenhouse Partners — an urban farm in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood that grows and supplies fresh produce to food deserts in Cleveland — would be an ideal candidate.
 

They would prefer a Slavic Village resident, but it’s not a requirement, Linsky says. They are open to new directions, Singletary adds. “We are open to ideas, and you could have a farmers market there as long as you had all necessary permits,” she says.
 

The effort will take a lot of weeding and retilling of the soil to get the land complex ready for gardening again, but the effort would pay off, Singletary says. “It’s going take quite a bit for anyone to get the garden going, but it has good bones.”
 

Slavic Village is already working to do as much of the work they can do now so the land is “presentable” for the people who take it over, Linsky says. Slavic Village will take care of lease negotiations and costs, while the manager will be responsible for the water bill and materials to maintain the garden, he says.
 

People interested in learning more should contact Singletary via email or at (216) 429-1182, ext. 106, or they can download the application here.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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