Vineyards Château of Hough
Starting in May of 2010, weeds were burned off of the three-quarter acre inner-city site, the ground was turned over and topsoil was trucked in. A small army of volunteers, both chidlren and adults, from the surrounding community and local nearby institutions helped to plant the vines and performed other tasks.
“I believe that you shouldn’t have to leave your neighborhood to live in a better one.” Attributed to Majora Carter
The vineyard is comprised of 294 vines, set in 14 rows, 21 plants per row; half Frontenac, half Traminette, both cold-hardy varieties of winemaking grapes. A usable yield will be produced by 2013.
The heavy lifting (cutting down trees and constructing the trellis super-structure), however, was done by residents of a nearby halfway house, augmented on occasion by work crews performing court-imposed community service. Grass was planted in the rows by mid-September…on time and under budget.
The master plan is to establish enough vineyards in Cleveland so that the ultimate goal of building an inner-city winery becomes a reality. However, even if the winery never comes to pass, the effort of rebuilding the community, and the new friends made in the process, has made the project very worthwhile.
Biocellar Château of Hough
Immediately adjacent, and to the north of, Château Hough is an abandoned house which will be converted into a biocellar – a below grade growing environment suitable for aquaponics (fish and crop propagation). We will begin with mushrooms, and expand to aquaponics in another building situated immediately west of the vineyard. A member of the team that created and designed the biocellar, biologist Jean Loria, is parterning with us on the project.
One of the pillars the national sustainability movement is for virtually all food in this country to be grown within a five-mile radius of where it is consumed. We seek to combine three current social trends to help solve urban ills: Urban food production; employing locals with disadvantaged backgrounds; and repurposing vacant homes and idle urban lots to create wealth-building opportunities for residents. We think that biocellar technology can be developed to the point where it is viable for use on literally hundreds of vacant homes, thus creating wealth-generating opportunities for neighborhood residents. Individuals returning home from a period of incarceration, veterans, and at-risk neighborhood youth can be trained to grow crops and raise fish.
This project is an off shoot of the Vineyards of Château Hough and is an effort to expand the notion of repurposing land, decreasing the food vacuum, creating opportunities and develop skills in specific populations.
Ground temperatures in a biocellar remain at a constant 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. This allows for the extension of the growing season in Cleveland to year- round, creating an increase in the yield. The biocellar also reuses embodied heat from the structure and natural insulation is provided by the earth around the foundation.
The biocellar will be the core facility for three interdependent micro-economic operations: (1) year round production of gourmet edible mushrooms for market (2) the production of micro-remediation mats for soil amendment and (3) the production of herbs and flowers for market.
Shitake and oyster mushrooms are known to detoxify enviornmental pollutants. The micro-remediation can be retailed as an urban garden soil amendment and also introduces the potential for ecological design revenue for specific sites of contamination.