In the heart of Cleveland’s Kinsman neighborhood, a once barren and neglected landscape has blossomed into a thriving food ecosystem, all thanks to the dedication and vision of the local residents steering the helm at Rid-All Green Partnership. What began as a modest hoop house in February 2011 has evolved into a remarkable 18-acre campus, teeming with life, sustainability, and community spirit.

Growing from the Roots

Rid-All’s journey was kickstarted by childhood friends Keymah Durden, Randy McShepard, and the late Damien Forshe, who transitioned from running Rid-All Exterminating Corporation to nurturing agriculture. The trio responded to the aftermath of the 2009 foreclosure crisis in Cleveland, a city grappling with high foreclosure rates and abandoned homes. They secured 1.3 acres in the struggling Kinsman neighborhood, determined to transform it into something meaningful.

Turning Challenges into Opportunities

The vacant land they acquired had been an illegal dumping ground, riddled with debris, including over 2,000 tires, burnt-out cars, and abandoned refrigerators. Undeterred, Rid-All spearheaded a cleanup initiative, demonstrating their commitment to both environmental stewardship and community revitalization.

From Soil Remediation to Fish Farming

Their early endeavors included building a hoop house, collecting food waste from local businesses, and creating compost to enrich their soil. But Rid-All’s innovation didn’t stop there. Intrigued by the potential of fish farming, they developed a self-sustaining hydroponics system. This system not only yielded 10,000 tilapia in the first three years but also laid the foundation for a larger 7,200-square-foot urban fish farm.

Branching Out for a Greater Impact

Rid-All’s growth didn’t stop at fish farming. The nonprofit expanded its footprint to an 18-acre campus, featuring two greenhouses, six hoop houses, a commercial composting station, and a rain catchment pond. They also became the official tree nursery site of the Cleveland Tree Coalition, contributing to the city’s reforestation efforts with a goal of growing and selling at least 5,000 trees.

Nurturing Community, Empowering Lives

Determined to grow more than just vegetables, Rid-All introduced workshops, trainings, and apprenticeship programs. The farm, now employing 18 individuals from the neighborhood, serves as a beacon of hope for both youth and veterans. The introduction of a farmer’s market in Maple Heights and a community kitchen on the campus marked pivotal moments in Rid-All’s journey towards creating a self-sustaining, closed-loop ecosystem.

The Farmer’s Market: A Gateway to Sustainability

In the summer of 2020, Rid-All ventured into Maple Heights, addressing food deserts by operating a farmer’s market. This initiative not only provided a platform to sell produce at scale but also ensured that any unsold produce returned to the farm, completing the composting cycle. A monthly presence of guest chefs further enriched the market experience.

A Kitchen for Community and Innovation

Spring 2021 witnessed the opening of a new building on Rid-All’s campus a community kitchen, market, and restaurant facility. Designed like a log cabin, this space, overseen by Keymah Durden, has become a symbol of uniqueness in inner-core Cleveland. It hosts meals cooked by guest chefs, cooking and nutrition classes, and even serves as a venue for meetings and events.

Closing the Loop

Rid-All’s story is a testament to resilience, innovation, and the power of community-driven agriculture. With a full, closed-loop ecosystem in place, everything grown on the farm seamlessly integrates into the market and kitchen, fostering sustainability and fostering local pride.

A Cleveland Story of Resilience

In the words of Keymah Durden, “This is a real Cleveland story as local as it gets. Three kids who grew up on the east side now represent a good-faith and hopeful message around agriculture, showing what can be possible.”

Rid-All Green Partnership stands not only as a model of urban farming success but as a beacon of hope for communities, proving that with determination, creativity, and a commitment to the land, transformation is not only possible but sustainable. Cultivating hope, one harvest at a time, Rid-All Green Partnership continues to inspire and uplift, showcasing the incredible potential of urban agriculture.

Sowing Seeds of Change

As Rid-All continues to evolve, Marc White, a founding partner serving as operations manager, emphasizes their commitment to staying current and adapting over time. The initial goal of growing vegetables expanded into a holistic approach—growing community. The farm is not merely a source of produce; it is a catalyst for positive change.

Workshop Wisdom and Apprenticeship Alchemy

Rid-All’s commitment to community development goes beyond physical structures. Workshops and apprenticeship programs have become integral components, offering valuable skills and knowledge. Tailored programs for youth and veterans not only provide employment opportunities but also empower individuals to be active contributors to their community.

Farmer’s Market Expansion: Connecting Communities

The summer of 2020 marked a significant milestone as Rid-All extended its reach to Maple Heights, a suburb considered a food desert. Operating a farmer’s market became more than just a commercial endeavor; it became a bridge connecting communities. Produce not only graces the tables of local residents but any unsold items find their way back to the farm, completing the sustainable cycle.

Community Kitchen Chronicles

In 2021, Rid-All unveiled a new building on its campus a community kitchen, market, and restaurant facility. Designed with a touch of uniqueness resembling a log cabin, this space became the epicenter of culinary innovation and community engagement. Rotating guest chefs on Tuesdays and Fridays, shared meals, and recipes became a culinary journey that transcends socioeconomic boundaries.

Green Growth and Reforestation Mission

Rid-All’s commitment to environmental stewardship is not confined to its immediate surroundings. Becoming the official tree nursery site of the Cleveland Tree Coalition, the nonprofit aims to contribute significantly to the city’s reforestation goals. Over the next few years, they plan to grow and sell a substantial number of trees, creating a green legacy that goes beyond the boundaries of their 18-acre campus.

A Holistic Vision for the Future

As Rid-All Green Partnership looks towards the future, its founders envision a holistic approach to community development. The community kitchen acts not only as a space for culinary exploration but also as an incubator for emerging food businesses. It serves as a staging facility for food products requiring processing and packaging, aligning with Rid-All’s commitment to sustainable practices in every aspect of their operation.

The Impact Beyond the Hoop Houses

Rid-All’s impact goes beyond the physical structures of greenhouses and hoop houses. It is a story of empowerment, resilience, and creating a closed-loop ecosystem that encompasses not just the farm but the entire community. Every aspect of their operation, from fish farming to tree cultivation, is intricately woven into the fabric of sustainable living.

A Beacon of Inspiration

In the bustling heart of Cleveland, Rid-All Green Partnership stands not only as a beacon of inspiration but as a tangible example of what can be achieved when a community comes together with a shared vision. The story of Rid-All is a reminder that even in the most challenging circumstances, the seeds of change can be sown, nurtured, and cultivated into a thriving garden of hope.