Photo Essay: What’s Growing in West Virginia’s Urban Ruins?

Oh, my goodness, this is a great, encouraging article about Wheeling, WV, another Rust Belt town turning to urban farming as a way of rejuvenating the city, the land and its people. My favorite sentences from the article include:

“But some seniors who live in buildings like Montani Towers are still trying to figure out this ‘group of hippies.’ One woman saw the words ‘Fair Trade’ on a poster advertising some of the imported items sold at Grow Ohio Valley’s mobile market and tried to barter her folding chairs for sweet corn.

So Swan and his colleagues have been going door-to-door to explain that none of this is radical. It’s the same kind of farming that older Ohio Valley residents remember from their youth. And if some of that agriculture returns, it could bring some of Wheeling’s spark back.

Already, there’s more fresh food and young people in the area. If the teaching farm takes off, there will be more growth. More business. More life.

Bill Hogan, 85, believed the sales pitch so much that he convinced the board of the local Schenk Foundation to underwrite Grow Ohio Valley’s start-up costs. He says it’s the first time in decades that he’s felt excited about the prospects for his hometown.

“It’s just refreshing. It’s a whole new culture — a whole new attitude. You’ve got people eating healthy food. There’s young people coming back into the area now — two of them my own grandnieces. It’s like a renaissance. A rebirth,” he said.”

Read the full photo essay here.





2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by CindyW. on November 4, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Neat story – I am reading a somewhat similar account, of Eric Toensmeier & Jonathan Bates in Paradise Lot, in Holyoke, Mass. They dealt with urbanite and some lead in their soil, asphalt, etc. Good to see PBS including such stories.


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