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Business Case Information
The estimated 30,000 vacant or foreclosed properties in Cuyahoga County contain a significant reservoir of materials that can be salvaged and re-used for productive purposes in the city or county. With more then 180 community gardens and about 50 market gardens in Cuyahoga County, there is a growing demand for urban farm infrastructure that can raise the productive capacity of land used for agriculture. Greenhouses are a critical investment for any urban farm seeking a viable business model. In a cold-climate region like Northeast Ohio, greenhouses are the primary means to extend the growing season beyond the six months afforded by nature. Developing innovative and cost-effective greenhouse designs will both enhance on-the-ground efforts to establish viable farms on vacant urban land while advancing Cleveland/Cuyahoga County as a national leader in urban sustainability. It also helps to link green construction opportunities with local food systems development.
Our main focus is on developing and evaluating the proto-types. Our second proto-type will involve a training process to expand the number of youth and adults that are skilled in strawbale construction techniques. We will be expanding StrawVille as a social enterprise with participants in our 2010 construction process and are looking to construct a proto-type commercial scale strawbale greenhouse in 2011 (about a 24’ x 96’ structure). StrawVille will form a social enterprise, under the fiscal sponsorship of the New Agrarian Center, to conduct further trainings and develop a replication plan for the buildings. We are also working with the Urban Lumberjacks of Cleveland to evaluate farm infrastructure development as a secondary market for deconstructed lumber, foundation stone, windows, and other materials.
It would be useful to map out the depth of supply markets for this kind of construction. We have not done any of the formal studies listed above, but it would be useful to determine the regional capacity to support these kinds of building projects on a much larger scale.
We have invested $1,500 into a proto-type at Vel’s Purple Oasis and have developed plans and have about $7,500 to invest in a second prototype. We need to find about $35-50,000 to develop an energy monitoring system and to better evaluate performance of the strawbale structure, including construction of a larger commercial-scale facility. We would look to the following partners to form the leadership team: New Agrarian Center City Fresh Urban Lumberjacks of Cleveland/A Piece of Cleveland Glenville Green Space Vel’s Purple Oasis Farm ClearLake Farm Cuyahoga County Land Bank Authority Kurtz Brothers City of Cleveland