CLEVELAND– Cleveland Crops, an urban agriculture and food production social enterprise, has added Processing Manager Paul Keida and Farm Manager David Snodgrass to its leadership team.
A collaborative effort of the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, its non-profit affiliate, SAW, Inc., and Ohio State University Extension, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Crops prepares workers with developmental disabilities for job placement in food production, food processing and related fields.
The recent opening of the 5,000-square-feet Cleveland Crops Food Innovation Center, made possible through funding from the George Gund Foundation, Co-Bank and Farm Credit Mid-America, provides an ideal environment for individuals to gain work experience and skills in the food processing industry.
Located at 5320 Stanard Avenue on Cleveland’s Near East Side, the Food Innovation Center has recently been certified to produce and market dehydrated and dry packaged food products.
Additional equipment, processes and staff continue to be added.
Keida, a food scientist and food microbiologist by education, comes to Cleveland Crops with an impressive 35-year career in food processing, manufacturing and packaging, product development and product commercialization.
He earned his master’s degree in food science from the University of Georgia and is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Executive Industrial Research Management Development program.
While serving as senior vice president of research and development, engineering and quality assurance for Borden Foods, he developed and commercialized an average of 35 new products per year.
He has extensive knowledge in the areas of food process technology, food safety, food and recipe creation, ideation/market research, food plant design, food nutrition and labeling and business development.
Workers with developmental disabilities at the Food Innovation Center will produce products under the Cleveland Crops brand and will also be able to co-pack for other food- related businesses such as growers, restaurants and other food processors.
“We can produce a customized, shelf-ready product with your own label, or we can perform a process for you that’s a component in a larger process,” Keida explains.
“It’s a win-win situation because by co-packing product for your business, we can save time and manage your risk of capital investment, while helping you manage your growth.
Cleveland Crops, in turn, benefits by generating revenue to pay wages for the people it serves while they gain valuable work experience.”
On the fresh foods side, Cleveland Crops hired David Snodgrass to bring organization and synergy to its 10 farming locations around Cuyahoga County, including a 15,000-square-feet greenhouse located at the Stanard Avenue site.
He has more than 20 years of experience as a greenhouse coordinator, garden manager and horticulturist. He has a bachelor’s degree in crop science and a master’s degree in public policy, both from the Ohio State University. Most recently, he managed a large greenhouse for OSU, directing research, growing and community outreach activities and instructing graduate students.