US EPA, Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd. SM-7J
Chicago, IL 60604
Toledo, Ohio, has suffered decades of decline from the loss of business and industry, creating an abundance of contaminated vacant properties in central city neighborhoods. In fact, there are about 100 brownfield sites and 1,000 city-owned vacant lots in these areas. Many are not desirable for commercial or industrial redevelopment, even after environmental problems have been resolved. Some local organizations are exploring alternative redevelopment of these properties for agriculture, storm water mitigation and alternative energy generation. This would improve the environmental health of many neighborhoods, provide job and economic opportunities for residents, and help stabilize the housing market. EPA is helping the city deal with contaminated land and flooding issues with the goal of developing sustainable agriculture and renewable energy industries.
Development of a Business Plan and Planning Tool for Urban Agribusiness
EPA worked with Lucas County Improvement Corporation, Toledo Community Development Corporation, University of Toledo, Center for Innovative Food Technology, The Collaborative, Toledo Grows, the city of Toledo, Ohio EPA and HUD to help Toledo CDC develop a business plan for a proposed urban farm on a property that has been vacant for over 15 years. The Fernwood Growing Center is on a 2-acre brownfield cleaned up with an EPA revolving loan grant from the city. It will provide fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables to the community, and encourage healthy diets and lifestyles by providing nutrition education and reconnecting people with locally grown foods. It will also help strengthen the local economy with jobs and job training.
The handbook and accompanying worksheets for this urban farm are available for download:
- Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook (PDF) (79pp, 1.7MB)
- Urban Farm Business Plan Worksheets (MS-Word) (51pp, 1.9MB)
- Urban Farm Business Plan Financial and Planning Spreadsheets (MS-Excel) (38K)
Neighborhood Planning for the Old Jeep Site
EPA has also been working with Toledo on the revitalization of neighborhoods surrounding the former Jeep site. EPA helped identify tools and funding sources, and hold a meeting where participants offered ideas, resources and energy to the rebuilding effort. EPA worked on developing GIS maps that identify infrastructure, transportation corridors, greenspace, businesses and community assets. The maps will help determine needs and opportunities for revitalization.