Youngstown’s growing urban farming culture
Youngstown had 23,831 vacant lots and 3,246 abandoned buildings in 2010.
By Will Flannigan
Farm and Dairy
August 31, 2012
According to the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative report, “Youngstown Citywide Vacant Property Survey,” Youngstown had 23,831 vacant lots and 3,246 abandoned buildings in 2010. Not only is vacant land unproductive, it also is a magnet for criminal activity.
The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) chose a plot of land in the Idora neighborhood because the area already had a neighborhood association that could be used at a starting point for the urban farm.
Since its unveiling in 2011, the urban farm has grown to include a hoophouse, solar powered vegetable chiller, greenhouse and a 2,700-square-foot home that will be remodeled and turned into classroom space, thanks to a $75,000 grant from J.P. Morgan Chase.
Though one goal of the Iron Roots project is to become self-sustaining through the sale of produce, that’s not the urban farm’s only purpose, said Merrill. “We know it’s not going to produce as much food as a large farm in the country, but the folks who work with us didn’t get the benefit of growing up on a farm. We want to bring some of those values to the city.”