Cleveland has just unveiled the world’s first BioCellar, a sustainable agriculture project that’s a smart mix of urban design, architecture, and biology. Built upon the masonry foundation of an abandoned house, the passive greenhouse is a stunning example of how an urban renewal project can bring fresh produce and life to a food desert in a blighted neighborhood.

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biocellar, permaculture design, jean loria, rob donaldson, mansfield frazier, east cleveland, vacant housing, urban renewal, urban agriculture, urban farming, solar power, aquaponics, chateau hough

In East Cleveland, one out of every five properties is abandoned. To combat the challenge of vacant housing, local permaculture designer Jean Loria proposed the BioCellar, a sustainable solution that redevelops abandoned property into hotspots for urban farming. Combining the concept of a root cellar with a greenhouse, BioCellar reuses one of the most valuable parts of a building, its foundation, as the base for a new greenhouse.

Architect Rob Donaldson and project manager Mansfield Frazier hope that the BioCellar’s year-round temperate climate will be ideal for growing a variety of produce–from strawberries to gourmet mushrooms–or for setting up an aquaponic tilapia farm. In addition to keeping a temperate year-round growing environment, the sustainable greenhouse will be powered by solar energy and irrigated with harvested rainwater. Rain gardens will be built into the surrounding landscape to prevent water runoff and excess power generated from the solar panels will be sold back to the city’s power grid.

Additional low impact development practices will be used throughout the facility for educational demonstrations and community use. The BioCellar, which is also being built next to Chateau Hough, the first urban vineyard in the region, is scheduled to open in March 2014.

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Images via Mansfield Frazier