The Iron Roots Urban Farm on the South Side is the best example of vacant land reuse.
It is there that volunteers cultivate dozens of different types of produce on 1.7 acres of land.
“That’s our goal, is to train people to grow on vacant land, train people to start their own enterprises and provide also initial job experience for people,” said Liberty Merrill, senior program coordinator for Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Now a $296,000 grant will help the Iron Roots Urban Farm project continue to grow, with most of the money to be used for programming. The grant is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“I work with a lot of youth in different programs that we actually can teach them some life skills and work ethics, things that aren’t common these days among young people,” said Iron Roots Urban Farm manager Curtis Moore.
“This is to allow us to employ people who want to start their own businesses. We can employ them for a year and help them learn about products and support them in getting their own operation started,” Merrill said. “We’re trying to build a food system that benefits everybody. We’re trying to build a food system that people can grow food, buy food, cook food, sell food.”