Thursday, September 9, 2010


And September continues to be the same. The last blog I went on about maggots a bit and never really got to the insanity that was August. So today, I will continue that blog (now in the past tense). But before I do, I just want to go back to the maggots for a moment. It turns out if you look really hard or increase the size of that top image, then YOU CAN SEE THE MAGGOTS IN THE BONEMEAL! YAY!

Five trips downtown to City Hall, countless hours later, fourteen bucks for parking, $150 for permit fees and associated costs, a $35 parking ticket, and a Board of Zoning Appeals hearing, I HAVE MY FENCE PERMIT! YAY! After all that, you may think that I'd be getting a 10 foot fence with barbwire and machine gun turrets, but no actually, it's five foot black vinyl mesh. I give major thanks and appreciation to City Council President Sweeney and Melissa Miller of Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation. Both had my back at the Zoning Appeals hearing and literally went to town for me. Without them, I'd probably be a fenceless farmer exposed to the wilds of Cleveland. I give my apologies to Pete of GagePro across the street, who acted as a friend and then blindsided me with an objection letter to the Board against my fence, against my business, and against my person.

So Pete, I'm sorry. I got my fence. Considering you have literally zero green space on your completely blacktopped property and considering that preservation of green space was one of your five objection reasons, then I suggest to you that you green up your own land and property, and leave me personally be.

If there ever was a time to soapbox, for me personally, now is it. Everybody and anybody, who cares at all about urban farming in general and specifically urban farming in Cleveland, needs to call their Council Person and let them know you support the Urban Agriculture Overlay (UAO). In a nutshell, the UAO will create usage zoning that will allow us, Cleveland Urban Farmers, such farming amenities as hoophouses and fences without all of the fuss I just described. An urban farmer could farm with relative startup ease if the UAO passes. The UAO will also help to set National precedent for other cities to create similar urban farming zoning. It's easy getting a hold of City Council. Just copy and paste from below.

Now to get off my soapbox, I'll tell you some more about August 2010. Besides melons, maggots, maneuvering, and grant writing, there was and still are tomatoes, lots and lots of them. I've taken the non-business zen approach to tomato quantity calculation, and all I can say again is there are lots and lots of them. I just filled my 100th half ounce bag of dehydrator dried sundrieds. I do know it takes a half pound of tomatoes to create a half ounce of sundrieds. So that's 50 pounds of just sundrying types of tomatoes right there. Then there's the quarts of sauce, and all the sales. I wake up in the middle of night, thinking of ways to keep the tomatoes flowing. In general, I use FIFO, an accounting acronym that means first-in, first-out. At the Market, I sell 'em individually, any tomato for a quarter, or in a brown bag bundle for $2.50 to $3.50. Some of the ultra-cool/high demand tomatoes like the Green Zebra only get brown bag bundled. Selling tomatoes in August was a difficult business challenge that I feel I ultimately won. Experimenting with pricing models was crucial and having someone like Sarah Perkins, who is literally the Cookie Monster of Tomatoes, on my side also helped tremendously.

With all those melons and tomatoes, it's no wonder my house became a fruit fly resort for a little while. Additional sweet sweet news is that Cleveland formally awarded me the Gardening for Greenbacks Grant for $3K. Thank you, Cleveland. I also gave my first urban farmer interview with Elizabeth Emery of Growhio. I will be Growhio's first featured farmer on their almost revamped website. I had my first shared farmer market stand with Central Roots selling luscious greens. In hindsight, August seems like it was an incredibly productive month. September is shaping up to be the same with the shed installation and site prep, including moving and spreading four tons of limestone later on today for the base of my shed. Then, there'll be the shed painting project...

For me, one thing at a time wins the race.

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