Cleveland Councilman, non-profit team up to bring urban farm to inner city

CLEVELAND - Your address and zip code are not only a marker of where you live, but can also forecast how long you live.

"People are dying now, we don't have three years we have to be done yesterday," said Ward 7 Councilman Basheer Jones. "So we're looking at their business plans looking at options."

It's the reason why Councilman Jones is working to bring fresh, locally grown food to areas where many residents consider the gas station one of their few means of shopping for food.

He is working with the non-profit, Rid-All Green Partnership, an aquaponics and urban farm, that grows its own soil with the goal of expanding in the near future to the east side of Cleveland.

"We have some of the highest health issues than any other place in the city," said Councilman Jones. "So if we had more options, if our community had more options, then ultimately I believe we would make better choices."

The goal is to not only create jobs and use unused property, but to eliminate food deserts, or areas with little access to purchase affordable or quality fresh food.

"People used to have their grandmothers to show them how to plant and grow and eat from the garden. That's sort of a lost art," said farm manager Marc White. "So people are now depending on stores to seek nutrition and a lot of stores don't have the right foods to seek nutrition through."

Research in just the past three years has shown life expectancy for babies born near Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhoods is 12 years shorter than babies born a short drive away near Lyndhurst. The findings were published in 2016 at the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Common Wealth University.

"So far the work we've been doing in Cleveland we have not seen it anywhere else," explained co-founder Damien Forshe. "We have created a system for our aquaponics that has not been shown or introduced to the county yet. We are the first and only aquaponic farm here in Cleveland that's doing what we are doing."

Efforts by the co-founders of Rid-All are now the center of a new documentary "Soil Brothers." According to producers, the film will be released next Spring.

For more information, you can go to the Rid-All Green Partnership's website. 

To watch the documentary trailer, click here.