Cincinnati is not usually the city that comes to mind when talking about cities where urban farming is on the rise. Yet behind the scenes, Cincinnati is quietly becoming a hotbed of urban farms.
In fact, this past June the Cincinnati City Council launched Urban Agriculture Stat. The goal is to expand Cincinnati’s urban farming foot print and invest in ways to develop blighted properties for the purpose of urban farming.
With urban gardening already occupying over forty city-owned parcels of land, the council knew that the program would have users and that more people would be looking to grow on an even bigger scale.
Now the Office of Environment and Sustainability is working with all the necessary city departments to pilot a project to convert publicly owned vacant land or buildings into Cincinnati urban farms.
The impetus for this decision came after a couple of community led urban garden projects were so successful the City decided there was a need to facilitate more projects like that. One such project, led by Community Matters, led to converting an empty lot on St. Michael St. into an urban garden. The program was so successful that they created two additional gardens and, this year, four local area teenagers were hired as summer garden apprentices.
The fact that urban farming can create jobs and other economic drivers for the City is why Cincinnati City Council is creating Urban AgricultureStat. They want to see more of this, especially in blighted areas of the city.
Waterfields, LLC, a local aquaponics company that started in Lower Price Hill one of Cincinnati’s hardest hit neighborhoods. From their website, “Waterfields aims to capture underutilized and underappreciated resources in Cincinnati’s urban core, to then be able to provide livable wage jobs and wealth creation opportunities to local residents. Waterfields will add new community hires to match increased operational capacity in the immediate and plans to generate 100 community jobs at livable wages within the next 5 years.
Business models like Waterfields’ are exactly what the council is looking to inspire with the Urban AgricultureStat program. With the new program and the early success of urban farms in the area, it seems like we can add Cincinnati to list of cities that are leading the charge for urban farming innovation.