Wake Robin Fermented Foods, a small company based in the city of East Cleveland, Ohio, is focused on local sustainability. About 90% of its vegetables are sourced from farms in Northeast Ohio; all vegetable waste goes to compost; paper, cardboard and metal is reused or recycled; fermented products are packaged in reusable glass jars. Wake Robin is part of a larger vision to establish a closed loop, community-owned supply chain in the three square miles comprising East Cleveland.
The organization leading the work is called Loiter. Its goal is to address a crisis across U.S. cities — the devaluation of African American neighborhoods, community assets and gathering places — through hyper-local, community-driven investment into one of Ohio’s poorest cities. “East Cleveland has no grocery store, no cafes, no restaurants, no farmer’s market, no bank … the belief is that we can build something here from the ground up,” says Loiter co-founder Ismail Samad.
“And we’re not building an extractive capitalist city. We’re building an intentionally regenerative and circular economy that understands the value of place, the environment and people — and is willing to say we don’t need to go bigger.”