Inspired students make green strides in a Rust Belt city

Jeremy Grove teaches agriscience at East Technical High School in Cleveland. Here he talks about the impact of urban agriculture on his students and the city of Cleveland.

“Two years ago I walked into a school in which nearly all of the students could not define “agriculture”. Their go-to foods include hot fries and chips, along with other snacks. All of their food comes from the corner liquor store and nearby dollar store. Today, many students are aspiring to be food scientists, agricultural educators, and many other careers within agriculture. While in high school I never would have gone to the Statehouse to lobby for water quality, yet 15 students helped to set up a visit to meet with legislators on National Ag Day. On Arbor Day, all of my students and many others planted 175 trees on two locations including 100 right on our own school campus, receiving recognition from the City of Cleveland all the way to US Congress. I have students chomping at the bit for the “next thing” that they can be a part of to improve their school, community, and life. Their zeal for FFA and agriculture is increasing every day, with many who want to change their world.

“As part of the rust belt in Ohio, Cleveland has become a forgotten city. But on a positive note, agriculture in Cleveland is rising. The Urban Agriculture Zone and many other areas of Cleveland are being transformed into areas whereresidents are growing food and taking control of their future. Currently there is a high demand for locally-grown food. Cleveland’s food scene is being recognized globally for the increase in unique restaurants. With the number of vacant lots, entrepreneurs can buy up property and help feed the huge poverty rate in Cleveland, a situation rivaled only by Detroit. In conjunction with the USDA and NRCS, many landowners and organizations are setting up high tunnels, or hoop greenhouses, so that they can help feed the citizens of Cleveland.”