Akron Urban League breaks ground on USDA funded high tunnel

Jun 12, 2018

The Akron Urban League hosted a ground breaking for its Urban Farm Hoop House on Friday, June 8th, 2018 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm at the Agency’s facility located at 440 Vernon Odom Blvd in Akron. The Urban Farm Hoop House project is a culmination of 6 months of work between the Akron Urban League and its partners, the United States Department of Agriculture, Metis Construction, the United Way of Summit County and Huntington National Bank.

The goal of the Urban Farm will be to introduce farming and agriculture careers through financial literacy to youth enrolled in the year-round Junior Leaguer’s Math Club (grades 6 -8). Students will use the hoop house for hands on applications of science and math curriculums and develop entrepreneurial skills at harvest time by managing the Urban Farms Farmers Market.

“We are extremely excited to begin work on our Urban Farm and we intend to have our students engaged in every aspect of the building, planting and harvesting of the crops,” says Urban League President & CEO, Dr. Sadie M. Winlock.

In the earliest phase, students will work with Metis Construction to build and design the plant boxes that will be placed in the hoop house.  After completion of the exterior, students will work closely with Urban League Program Coordinators, the USDA and local organizations to determine suitable crops, farming techniques and plant maintenance.

“The learning potential for the hoop house are endless and many of our youth have not been exposed to agriculture,” says Urban League Program Coordinator, DeWayne Richardson. Students will begin work on the interior project beginning on June 11 with an expected completion date of the exterior in August. 

The June 8th ground breaking ceremony served as the official announcement of USDA funding for the project in the amount of $10,000 through the USDA’s High Tunnel Initiative System. City of Akron Mayor, Daniel Horrigan, Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, representatives from Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge’s Office and the USDA will be present for the groundbreaking.

Additionally, the ground breaking ceremony served as the official send off for 7 Akron Urban League STEAM program participants to Central State University’s Seed to Bloom Ag-STEM Institute, a two week  academic, and residential camp for rising 6th, 7th and 8th graders during which students will explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and their interconnectivity to Agriculture.

The costs associated with attending the camp were generously funded by the Akron Urban League’s Board of Directors with special recognition for Urban League Board Members, Theresa Carter, OMNOVA Solutions Foundation, Alan Rothenbuecher, Benesch Law, and Nicole Squire, Bridgestone Americas.

Questions regarding the Urban Farm initiative may be directed to Dr. Vickie Person, vperson@akronurbanleague.org.