August 20, 2012 [Kevin Niedermeyer]
Ground will be broken this week in Cleveland for a farm that will give people with developmental disabilities job training, and provide fresh food for city residents.
Koinonia Homes is a private Northeast Ohio service provider for developmentally disabled people. The agency has a small suburban farm, but earlier this year decided it wanted something bigger to provide a work program, and to produce food for its residential services. So Wednesday Koinonia will break ground at a nearly 3 1/2 acre site in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood where a school once stood. The land was secured through the Cuyahoga County and Cleveland land banks. Koinania C.E.O. Diane Beastrom says the farm will include 8 crop fields, two greenhouses, more than 100 chickens, and 24 community garden plots. And, it will be a learning experience for clients.
“How to plant, how to take care of, how to cultivate, how to package and sell produce. And taking care of the chickens and the eggs. We hope we can develop job skills so they can be employed by green houses or companies that sell plants and other businesses like that.”
The farm will have 18 interns a year, and about 6 full- time employees. Koinonia has a 25 year lease agreement with the Cleveland Land Bank.