What officials describe as the largest urban greenhouse in the country is up and running on Cleveland's east side. ideastream's Bill Rice reports.
Green City Growers broke ground on its 4 acre greenhouse facility in Cleveland's Central neighborhood in October 2011. It began operating in December. It's a state of the art, hydroponic facility, which means there's no soil involved, except for germinating seeds. Crops grow year round in trays that float on nutrient rich water.
Here's CEO Mary Donnell.
DONNELL: "We grow 3 million heads of lettuce a year, 300,000 pounds of herbs in a very controlled environment, very high level of safety, and the produce is distributed to customers within a fifty mile radius of Cleveland. And it should be in customers' docks within 24 hours of harvest."
Green City Growers is the third business to join Cleveland's Evergreen Cooperative Network. It gives employees, after an initial vetting period, a kind of ownership stake in the company that allows them to share in the profits and accumulate savings.
Natopia Scott was among the first to be hired, and she likes that co-op aspect of her new job.
SCOTT: "Oh yes, that was very attractive to me. I mean, because you don't find that... nowhere really, you know what I mean? To be a part of something like this is a really great opportunity for all of us here."
BR: "And it also means you need to be in it for the long haul."
SCOTT: "Oh yeah. I'm not goin' nowhere. This is where I'm retiring from. This is my home."
Evergreen's co-op model is aimed at creating jobs and building assets for residents of Cleveland's low income neighborhoods.