Cleveland Urban Farm Takes One Step Forward, One Step Back

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One of Cleveland’s most ambitious urban farming projects took a big step forward and one step back last week.

Community Greenhouse Partners raised enough money to start putting up its first “hoop house,” a greenhouse-type growing structure, at East 67th and Superior. But their attempt to have the water turned on in the rectory of St. George — the decommissioned church the group bought from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland — nearly ended in disaster.

“We were trying to get water turned on in the house so we would have a bathroom for people setting up the hoop house,” says Tim Smith, the group’s founder and director. “The city had been valiantly trying to get the water turned on for three weeks, and in doing so, they turned on the water in the church, not the house. When you buy a building that’s been shut for a year and a half, you discover things you didn’t know about. One was a broken pipe on the top floor of the church.”

Oops. Water poured into the building, flooding the sacristy and a classroom. Quick action by volunteers and the donation of industrial fans and dehumidifers minimized the damage, which Smith describes as “a flood, but not one of biblical proportions.”

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