Last summer GROW, a part of TNP, began staging farmer’s markets on Courthouse Square, and Tuesdays have been more exciting ever since. And thank to recently won grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the markets will continue for at least another two years. The new funding will also support increased marketing of these weekly events, which every enterprise needs in order to grow — in this case to grow G.R.O.W. The press release is posted below, but we’d like to make a couple of comments.
First, kudos to Sheila Calko, the GROW program manager at TNP. In addition to the farmers markets GROW oversees a number of other gardens and programs in Warren which you can read about here.
Second, staging the farmer’s markets was one of the 10 (or 11, depending on what you count) projects recommended by the Resident Advisory Committee as important for Warren’s future and recommended by the strategic plan; it was assigned to TNP for implementation by Mayor Franklin and is one of the few of these projects to not only be completed, but to be reported on to the community in written, actionable reports. Let’s hope the two new grant writers the Mayor recently hired will do as well.
TNP receives grant from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Farmers Market Promotion Program
Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership (TNP) is awarded funding for an extension of its Garden Resources of Warren (GROW) Program and Warren Farmer’s Market. The Farmers Accessing Resources for Marketing (F.A.R.M. Warren) will provide educational and networking resources for local farmers and to promote the Warren Farmer’s Market in order to increase the consumer base while simultaneously addressing the limited access to fresh foods in the low income neighborhoods surrounding the market.
F.A.R.M. Warren will achieve this initiative by implementing several new strategic efforts, and TNP will measure the social and economic impact of the market on the community. Educational and networking programs will be organized and held for local farmers, and technical support will also be provided to farmers in partnership with Grow Youngstown and area OSU-Extension offices. Outreach will be conducted and marketing materials will be produced in order to increase domestic consumption of local produce at the Warren Farmer’s Market. A strategic plan will be developed in order to improve the market for vendors and consumers.
“This USDA grant will provide TNP the much needed resources that will allow the weekly Warren Farmer’s Market to grow over the next two years. We look forward to playing an integral role in moving the local foods economy forward,” explained Sheila Calko, GROW Program Manager/Warren Farmer’s Market Manager for Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.
We were driving some friends on a tour throughout the Garden District Sunday afternoon. As we pulled up in front of the recently renovated Vine Avenue house, one of our guests asked the inevitable question, “How is it working?”
At that moment a car full of twenty-somethings pulled into the drive, got out of their car and started inspecting the house. We said hello and began chatting. It seems a friend of theirs is interested in buying the house and told them they should take a look around the Garden District for themselves — which they were doing just then. They were excitedly enthusiastic. They loved the stone wall flower beds and the wildflower gardens. They were excited to learn that a vineyard is being planted on Vine. They loved the bird houses and all the “Stuff” we’ve been creating, but even better, they loved the neighborhood vibe and the fact that you can live there and walk downtown.
They were raised in Warren, graduated from college, and had no plans to abandon the town they call home. This may work after all.
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Work continues on Austin Village Plaza. The job left to do is so large it is hard to tell if real progress is being made or not, but we can say with certainty that work continues.We heard though the grapevine that Mr. Shafran was motivated by all the calls and emails he received but impressed with one email in particular, which beseeched him to do the right thing in verse. The poet is our own Frank Abbott, designer and builder of the Abbottonian stone wall planters scattered about the Garden District. Franks message to Mr. Shafran:
Enjoy your wealth, I hear people say,
He’s the most important person in the room,
Shady dealings will come back some day,
Like a bloated body, exhumed.
Make the world something, a place to abide,
Doing the right thing, hurts sometimes,
To make a place we can live, love and feel the pride,
To make our future, shine.
Well said Frankster.
Give Austin Village Plaza owner Joseph Shafran some credit — he has been responsive this week to our complaints. He called back on Wednesday to say that he has a new demolition plan in place and that crews will be working from 7:00 a.m. until 4:00 every weekday until the job is completed. He estimated that the job should be done by “mid-October.”
We expressed skepticism on that date estimate given the small crews and the toy-like equipment they were using. We’ve seen quite a few residential demolitions and every one of them had more robust resources at work compared to what was at work at AVP on Wednesday. He promised to look into it and yesterday they had a real, grown-up front loader at work. Wednesday it was two bobcats and an F-150. On Thursday Councilman Eddie Colbert saw a full sized semi hauling away debris on one of his twice daily drive by inspections. (see before and after photos here.)
We also asked about plans for weed cutting as many of them exceed six feet in height and Shafran promised to good something soon. We promise to stay on top of the project until it is satisfactorily completed.
There is some very exciting Garden District news. You may recall the Trumbull 100 matching grant offer; well, it has maxed out, thanks to an anonymous $10,000 donation. So, we now have an additional $25,000 available for a home renovation, and TNP is looking for for a good candidate. And as soon as we sell the house on Vine Avenue we will be able to start a third renovation.
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There is good news there as well. We got a very nice turn out for last weekend’s open house, and very good media coverage including a spot on WKBN. Even better, a local veterans support group has offered down payment assistance to any disabled vet who desires to buy the house. You can see details on the house and how to get a showing or more information by clicking this link.
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Regarding yesterday’s post — I should have named the people in the citizen’s group who met with GE. They each devoted at least 4-5 hours of their private time (with more to come) to the task of making Warren a better place to live for everyone, and deserve some acknowledgment. They are:
- Brian Angelo, Sales/Applications Engineer, Spang Power Electronics; member of Resident Advisory Committee (RAC); member, Board of Directors, Sunshine of Warren/Trumbull Area, Inc. (Local CHDO).
- Melissa Holmes, consultant to Warren Redevelopment and Planning and lead volunteer to revitalize the historic Robins Theater. Master’s Degree in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School. RAC member.
- Matt Martin, Executive Director, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, a 501(c)3 CDC and Director of the Trumbull County Land Reutilization Corporation.
- Cindee Mines, retired nurse, Board of Directors, Trumbull County Historical Society.
- Erica Royster, President Southwest Warren Neighborhood Association, RAC member, Precinct Committeewoman, small business owner
- Roy Yancey, retired management General Motors, retired U.S. Army, Chairman, Resident Advisory Committee (advisors to Warren City Council).
Joseph Shafran, the owner of Austin Village Plaza called us this morning. He said he was sorry the demolition has dragged on so long and he called their handling of it “unprofessional.” He promised that they are rededicating themselves to the task and that it would be done very quickly. We asked for a specific target date for completion, and he promised to call back by the end of the day today with a date. He did not call back. We will stay on him, and you should,too. See yesterday’s post for full contact information.
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Two representatives from General Electric’s corporate headquarters in Connecticut traveled to Warren last week to meet with an ad hoc group of local residents to discuss the condition in which GE would leave their former Ohio Lamp plant sites on West Market Street and Dana. One is a lawyer and the other a PhD in environment science. They were accompanied by a third person who works for a third-party firm in Pittsburgh, who is charged with overseeing the work.
It was what the diplomats might call a “frank and open discussion of the issues.” The Warren group asked for GE’s support in beautifying the West Market lot that we have characterized as looking like a prison yard; we also discussed the idea of saving the Dana building and leaving a more attractive site if that is not possible. While non-committal, the GE representatives appeared to be open to our ideas and to playing a constructive role in meeting our goals. They did say that saving the Dana Street building was unlikely due to environmental issues and the cost associated with remediation.
They asked for some time to go back to HQ and discuss the options and to investigate some specific ideas we presented. We polled everyone in our six-person group after the meeting and all agreed that the meeting was a good one, and that we are inclined to trust GE to continue to work with us in a positive manner. We will post further developments as they occure.