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Local Foods And Sustainable Business

The City is leveraging its purchasing power to encourage companies to be more sustainable while boosting the local economy. As part of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 initiative, the City celebrated 2012 as the Year of Local Foods, engaging businesses, residents, schools, and social service and community development organizations to support this growing movement.

In 2011, Travel and Leisure Magazine dubbed Cleveland one of the “World’s Most Visionary Cities” for its urban farming and in 2008, Sustain Lane ranked Cleveland 2nd nationally in Local Foods. Below are some reasons why:

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Local and Sustainable Purchasing Preference
In 2010, the City of Cleveland adopted a Local and Sustainable Purchasing ordinance, which provides a 2-4% bid preference for companies that source products locally and/or are certified as a sustainable business. The City is also one of the first in the U.S. to provide bid discounts and evaluation credits to companies that buy at least 20% of their contract amounts from regional food growers. Businesses can learn more about these incentives, including online (re)certification, from the Office of Equal Opportunity.

Water Access
The City provides affordable water access for community gardens in the Summer Sprout and Reimagining Cleveland programs. As a result, local growers have access to inexpensive water rates that are in line with the approximate amount of water they use.

City of Cleveland Landbank Program
The Department of Community Development administers the City of Cleveland Landbank Program. Among other options, non-buildable parcels can be used to add gardening or landscaping. -more

Keeping of Farm Animals and Bees
The City issued regulations in 2009, with amendments in 2010, which permit urban farming while preventing nuisances to neighbors. These regulations specify the type and number of permitted animals, length of setbacks from property lines, and the required dwellings for animals in both residential and non-residential areas. Slaughtering, sanitation, nuisances, and how to apply for permission to keep farm animals and bees on city property are also addressed.

Agriculture and Farm Stands in Residential Districts
In 2010, the City passed a zoning code update that permits agriculture as a principal use on all vacant residentially zoned lots. This update also permits the sale of produce from farm stands in Residential Districts as a conditional use with Board of Zoning Appeals approval, in consideration of established factors.

Urban Garden Zoning District
Adopted in 2007, the Urban Garden Zoning District recognizes that a garden may be the “highest and best” use of an urban lot. The regulation gives the City the ability to reserve land for garden use through zoning, requires public notice and a public hearing to change the zoning to permit building on an urban garden site, and permits “market gardens,” including the sale of produce from farmers’ markets.

Office of Sustainability
Jenita McGowan, Chief
601 Lakeside Ave. Room 227
Cleveland, Ohio 44114

P: 216.664.2455
F: 216.664.2378
Ohio Relay: 711

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Mission Statement


The Office of Sustainability leverages Cleveland's wealth of assets by collaborating with the community to improve the economic, environmental, and social well-being of its citizens. To lead by example, the Office develops and implements policies and practices with City departments to embrace a culture of sustainability.

City of Cleveland Office of Sustainability