Youngstown, Ohio, may have shrunk, but its urban farms are growing.
In its manufacturing heyday, its population topped 170,000. Now less than half that number live in the city. The 73,000 or so inhabitants live among 22,000 vacant lots and buildings.
But rather than sit around and watch the grass grow in vacant lots, the citizens and leaders of Youngstown have decided to take control of what grows there.
By 2010, the city had put together a plan that envisioned a future as a smaller city, but also a greener one. That foresight is paying off. The city’s website lists its recent accolades—fourth best city for raising a family, one of 20 cities recovering most strongly from the Great Recession, most affordable major housing market. And instead of growing grass in vacant lots, a bevy of community groups are growing vegetables and fruits, alongside chicken coops and fish ponds, as Global Green documents in a new report.
Part of the city’s plan has been to support urban agriculture by leasing or selling land parcels for as little as a dollar and by handing out wrenches to allow farmers access to water from fire hydrants when their rainwater collection systems run dry...