Growhio Moving Forward With Local Food Aggregator Pilot Program

Anyone who is familiar with the local food movement in northeast Ohio has probably heard mention of a group called Growhio at least a few times. For those unfamiliar with Growhio, the organization developed out of the City of Cleveland’s Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit in 2009 with the goal of serving as a meta-brand for local food in northeast Ohio and uniting isolated partners within the local food movement. To date, most of the brand’s programming has focused on local farmers’ markets and connecting people with information about the local food movement in the region.

However, recent changes in leadership and uncertainty about the sustainability of Growhio’s current structure prompted a meeting in early November to discuss the future of the organization and how it might secure a niche as the local food economy continues to grow and evolve. A number of urban farmers and community stakeholders came together to provide feedback and brainstorm about next steps and a unifying topic emerged: northeast Ohio’s current lack of a means for small farmers to access large buyers such as local educational and medical institutions. This sentiment was brought up at the most recent Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit in September and it was proposed that a regional food aggregator be developed to source food from local producers and then supply that food to large institutional buyers. At the meeting earlier this month, it was decided that Growhio will evolve to serve as a connector and facilitator for this project; the early stages of a pilot project have already begun with a survey that has been sent out to local food producers. Any and all local growers are encouraged to complete the survey in order to help Growhio better inform the pilot project.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, December 9th at 6:00 P.M. in the large conference room at OSU Extension: 5320 Stanard Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103. The results of the survey will be discussed as well as next steps to continue gaining momentum with this project. All who are interested in participating are welcome to attend; there is ample street parking and guests should enter through the main entrance on Stanard Avenue. 

Working Group(s): 
Local Purchasing