Urban farming takes root

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When you meet Kai Wingo, get ready to talk mushrooms. Mushrooms are her money-maker. She is the owner of Kai’s Cultured Mushrooms, a newly formed business in Cleveland.

Wingo is what you would call an urban farmer, growing the mushrooms in her own backyard. It’s a full-time job for the one-time Cleveland school district employee.

“I definitely love mushrooms more than the average person. There’s not enough mushroom growers in Cleveland, there’s not enough mushroom growers, period,” said Wingo. “We’re creating more opportunities for people, a specialized skill for people.”

The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation wants to bring the opportunities urban farming has to offer to the city. It’s now offering free classes in the specialized farming and Wingo will be teaching the first class in the bi-weekly series.

“We are really looking to target serious growers so that we can show them ways to grow their business,” said Sophia Buggs, AmeriCorps VISTA.

An urban farm is already producing on Youngstown’s South Side at the Iron Roots Urban Farm.

“Urban farming has something to do where people are actually growing on lots, vacant land reuse,” said Buggs. “People who are actually being engaged by turning their communities into beautiful dwelling spaces.”

Buggs said urban farming is slowly gaining popularity in Youngstown, bringing in successful farmers such as Wingo is one way for people to learn more.

Class location, time and description are listed below:

Urban Farming Classes 2013

Time:  All classes will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.on scheduled dates.

Location:  Iron Roots Urban Farm, 820 Canfield Rd. Youngstown, Ohio 44511

Cost:  Free and open to the public.

September 10: “Why Grow Mushrooms?”; Kai Wingo – A Cleveland, Ohio grower and community activist will share the health benefits of mushrooms, plus how to grow, sell, and market them. Kai is currently the lead organizer with Kultured Mushrooms and will have kits available for purchase.

September 24: Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Garlic; Danielle Seidita – A new urban farmer will share the ins and outs of growing garlic. Danielle gained experience growing garlic on a certified organic farm, Rootstown Organic Farm.

October 8: Fruit Tree Growing & Pruning in North Eastern Ohio; Eric Barrett – Ohio State University Extension Educator, Eric will share his expert knowledge on growing and pruning fruit trees.

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