Kim Clegg & Tim Smith
Community Green House Partners
“Going to prison… it's a sit down kinda time, and you think a lot,” says Kim Clegg of Community Greenhouse Partners. “I heard about Edwins and thought this is for me.” Kim’s journey to Cleveland, and to her current role at the east-side permaculture headquarters, started when she pursued an opportunity for professional development and culinary training through Edwin’s Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Shaker Square. She had been interested in sustainable agriculture before going to prison, and had a long history in the foodservice industry. Edwin’s, a highly respected French cuisine restaurant, gives formerly incarcerated adults a foundation in the hospitality industry, and the skills necessary for long-term success.
While training and working at Edwin’s, Kim developed a real fascination and passion for fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients. She quickly transitioned from the program’s small herb-growing space, to a more robust production space: a block of urban land near 67th and Superior called Community Greenhouse Partners. “I’ve become the microgreen expert,” she laughs. Kim’s microgreens can be 4-40 times the nutrient density of a full grown vegetable, and take only a few days between sprout and harvest. Currently, she grows over 12 varieties including sunflower, beets, broccoli, radish, kale, wasabi mustard, arugula, and even flowers like dandelion and nasturtium. Community engagement and education are Kim’s favorite perks of the job. Though she considers herself a natural salesperson, she would rather convince neighbors at the Coit Road Market or students from the nearby school to try her crop than score another restaurant account. Tim Smith, the Executive Director of CGP, helps her keep one eye on the profitable partnerships while simultaneously growing other connections.
Tim created Community Greenhouse Partners to be a permaculture paradigm in Cleveland. “Permaculture… permanent agriculture,” explains Tim, “is an ethically based system of transforming the space around you organically, in order to care for people, care for the planet, and create fair share for everyone.” Tim says implementing permaculture design principles and good hard science is a growing movement across the world, and that CGP is putting it to good use here. Tim and CGP are slowly, intentionally, re-creating a large block of land on Cleveland’s east side, including a huge vacant church, it’s parking lots, and more. Fruit, vegetables, high tunnels, hydroponic, aquaponic, rain barrels, soil swales, and farm animals fill the reimagined space. Apple trees, pear trees, peach trees, plum trees, almond and hazelnut trees; it seems that each season brings new prosperity and new projects to the once-abandoned property.
This year, Tim is unveiling a permaculture training program. “It's always been my dream to do this class. And the response has been tremendous.” Participants will learn permaculture principles, then design and build a project over the course of 15 weeks.