Did you know that in the late 1930’s, Greater Cleveland was home to the largest concentration of farming acreage under glass (225 acres) in America? Greenhouses were popping up all over Cuyahoga County as early as 1887 when T.W. James built a greenhouse near Brooklyn Heights. In fact, Dean’s Greenhouse in Westlake, built in 1924, is one of the area’s oldest operational greenhouses. The greenhouse industry in Northeast Ohio continued to flourish (pun intended!) throughout much of the 20th century, culminating in 1972 when the Cleveland Plain Dealer referred to Cuyahoga and Lorain county area as the “Greenhouse Capital of America.”
Events in the early 1990’s (a freeze in Florida which drove the prices of tomatoes up and increasing emissions standards by the EPA) put a great strain on the industry. Many growers borrowed money personally to try to protect their business. Unfortunately, many went out of business and our title of “Greenhouse Capital of America” was lost.
Several growers still operate in our area, and it is important to support them. The local food movement in Northeast Ohio is extremely popular and prominent and increased use of sustainable growing practices by local greenhouses means the two movements can work together to restore this vital industry. People who are dedicated to eating food grown locally are restricted by Ohio’s climate. Advanced technologies and growing innovations in greenhouses may provide us with an extended season.
Show your support for local nurseries and local food! Visit a local nursery for your summer supplies or shop from over 5 greenhouse vendors at our “Flower Day at the Market” on May 22nd, 9am to 2pm at Crocker Park. Local seedlings are acclimatized and plants are grown right here in Ohio, and there is one other benefit to buying local--talking to the grower, asking him or her questions and gaining a wealth of knowledge from their expertise!