Cincinnati is not known for being the most progressive place. But there are things happening here, important, green, thoughtful things. Ecovillages and urban farms have taken root in our urban core neighborhoods, local markets and stores have begun to carry more and more produce grown within 100 miles of the city, bike lanes are appearing on our streets, and renewable energy on our municipal buildings. Each day, it seems that there’s a new small business opening its doors with a triple-bottom line plan for growth and sustainability.
Today, as part of 350.org’s day of climate action, over sixty Cincinnatians came together to build a lightweight greenhouse, or “hoophouse,” in a half acre urban market farm near downtown. The intent was to help the farmers, all locals in the community, extend their growing season and be able to cultivate additional food to sell to restaurants and households here in the Queen City.
With the Kroger, Chiquita, and Procter & Gamble skyscrapers as a backdrop, and an overly warm October sun beating down, we gathered to hear community leaders speak (including Rep. Steve Driehaus, incumbent in the US House and big climate and health care advocate) and then to roll up our sleeves and dig into the work of the day. In the morning hours, divided into teams, we prepped the area where we would install the hoophouse and also assembled the different component pieces of the structure.
The prep work involved pulling weeds, picking up stones, and tossing out trash. It also required the transport and spreading of mulch over the footprint of where the hoophouse would sit. Folks of all ages pushed wheelbarrows and dug up roots. A particularly enterprising five year old became our expert stone sleuth, unearthing them left and right with a lot of delight and fanfare. Power drills trilled in the background as a group of eager 20-somethings put together two-by-fours and attached lag bolts to the primary supportive beams of the house.
In the afternoon, after lunch, everyone worked as a single, encouraging group to raise the hoophouse. Huge black metal arcs went into the ground that had so carefully been weeded and laid with mulch. Thick plastic covered these ribs, forming a half-dome. Tables for seed germination were placed inside.
From an unused corner of the farm sprang a miraculous structure that would protect tender seedlings from frost in the colder months and guarantee more fresh vegetables grown right within the city limits. The good labor of a dedicated segment of Cincinnati’s citizenry made it happen.
We’re willing to give our time, our muscle, our sweat, and our smiles to find and create climate solutions. It’s time that local, state, national, and world leaders took a cue from these humble but fierce efforts. At the end of the day, our cities and towns will be stronger, our economies more resilient, our bodies healthier, and our minds clearer if we finally resolve to take real action against a wasteful way of living. This action starts small, with a garden patch, a solar panel, a greenhouse, or a conversation, but each drop collects to ultimately fill the bucket to overflowing.