New life for old ground in Old Brooklyn: editorial

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New life for old ground in Old Brooklyn: editorial

August 23, 2012 [The Plain Dealer]

Life is a circle. And so it was that earlier this week a vacant lot, once the site of an elementary school, returned to its roots with a fresh take on what constitutes the traditional classroom.

More than simply turning an eyesore into an asset, Wednesday’s groundbreaking on a 2.3-acre grassy field in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood showed what effective incubators for positive change collaboration and innovation can be.

Koinonia, a local nonprofit that provides residential care and career training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, partnered with the Cuyahoga County Land Bank, the Cleveland Land Bank and Ward 13 Councilman Kevin Kelley to lease the site for a vocational farm.

The agency’s plan for the land is ambitious: teach employable skills, cultivate fresh produce for its residential programs, provide people in the community with the opportunity to raise their own crops and improve the public’s perception of mentally and physically challenged people.

In May, City Council passed legislation giving Koinonia a 25-year, $150-a-month lease to the property at West 41st Street and Memphis Avenue. The county land bank ponied up $14,000 to help install an irrigation system. Work will begin soon on construction of two greenhouses and a henhouse, and on preparing the ground for spring planting.

A one-mile walk will be held at the nearby Cleveland Metroparks Zoo from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 8 to raise funds for the farm. For more details, call 216-588-8777, ext. 119, or email [email protected]

Take the family and become part of a learning moment that will restore vitality to an urban lot and bring culinary gifts to a deserving neighborhood.