Cleveland, OH 1 Acre Urban Orchard


I was just offered a 1 acre piece of urban land in Cleveland, Ohio basically for free and plan on using it as an urban garden. Cleveland has a major foodie, locally grown food movement underfoot, and I plan on planting a lot of a few different crops on the plot to sell to local grocers, farmer’s markets, etc.

I have been gardening and tending a small back yard orchard for a few years, but nothing near the scale I’m about to undertake.

I am considering a big planting of maybe 50 vines of hardy kiwis. I think the novelty factor and the huge yields per vine make this an interesting choice. I’ve literally never seen them for sale here. At 100 pounds per plant at maturity it seems like it could be a profitable venture. 50 vines * 100 pounds per vine * 5000 pounds of kiwis at maturity * $6.00 per pound = $30,000 gross revenue per year. Am I missing something? Why are hardy kiwis not more widely grown commercially?

I have about 6 vines in my back yard, but have only had them for 3 years and haven’t seen them flower or get to their full size yet - is there anything about OH climate that would make them problematic over the long term, even though mine seem to be growing fine so far? Does anyone have any experience with Kiwis on this scale, or experience growing them in Cleveland area (zone 6b)? I’m only finding limited resources and data on their production.

I am also considering some yellow raspberries, for their novelty factor, and because they should be good producers much more quickly than the kiwis.

I figure if it’s something that’s a bit of a novelty, it would have a greater demand, and less supply which both help me as the seller. I enjoy the gardening part, not the selling/marketing part.

Does anyone know of an ideal crop for this type of venture? I like the idea of a long lasting fruit/berry much more than an annual vegetable or something like that.

If anyone has any other comments, or experiences they can share, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks a lot.

PS thanks to mamuang_gw for referring me over here. I was an infrequent poster at gardenweb and the redesign caught me off guard when I logged in after a few month of inactivity and posed this question there.

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Eric, my impression is it is hard to get people interested in buying hardy kiwis, at least in the grocery store context. In a farmers market / local food movement community though you could do a lot better since people there tend to be more open to new choices.

As someone on GW mentioned, the time to fruit can be long on hardy kiwis, that will likely be your biggest problem. I wouldn’t make too much of the land be hardy kiwis given the length of time it can take to fruit.

There is no need to do yellow raspberries, the reds will sell better. But, they are hard to get to market since they are so fragile/perishable. Blueberries are a lot easier on that front, but will take a few years to build up a crop. I would look into currants, if you had some locavore kitchens they would slurp them up as they are fantastic for cooking and easy to grow. One problem with hardy kiwis is there is almost no cooking tradition for kiwis.


I’ve heard (no claim to the truth of this) that hardy kiwi can take a long time to start bearing well. IMO, that would not be a good crop for your situation on that basis. Even with little overhead of property payments, for a small startup farm that’s a lot space your losing for profit down the road.

You’re on the right track with growing something unique though, perhaps something that can be cooked with would be a good choice instead/additionally to really get into the foodie crowd. What about figs? I’m assuming your zone 6, with proper variety selection and protection you should be ok growing them. Plus, they turn around and fruit quickly.

Good luck! Sounds like a neat endeavor.

edit: Scott beat me to it while I was typing!

Have you considered trying some of the new sour cherry bushes like Carmine Jewel, etc.?

They will still take some time to be ready to set fruit for you, but I would imagine they might be of interest at local farmers markets and particularly for local chefs. Carmine Jewel seem to be earliest and might beat other sour cherry’s to market (I’m not entirely sure of all the ripening times). And then if you wanted to extend the harvest you could grow other varieties.

Planting a whole acre would be pricey, but you can buy them in bulk from some places like Prairie Tech in Canada.

They don’t really seem to need spraying and from what I’ve read they practically thrive no neglect. Just a thought.

You could even team up with a local baker to offer a cherry pie unlike any others, since you’d pretty much have the only cherries like them in the area.

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I saw gooseberry in farmer market in German that sales well. Very large red gooseberry, very pretty, might attract some attention too.

If you are going to go for tart bush cherries, there are better varieties in my opinion than Carmine Jewel. It was the first variety released from that series but some of the more recent introductions have larger cherries and are less tart. Of the varieties I grow, Juliet is easiest to eat out of hand with Cupid a close second. The others get sour very quickly. (Evans is a tree tart cherry, like Montmorency, in fact one theory is that it is a hardy seedling of Montmorency.)

In this town I’m lucky to get $2 per lb for high brix tree ripe stone fruit. Blueberries and cherries sell better but are a lot of work and I haven’t produced 100 lbs to sell in 10 yrs. Also with berries you need to consider SWD potential as a pest.

I think you’d do as well with apples as anything but those might be half stolen.

If you grossed half to one third of your estimate that would surprise me.

I love hardy kiwis, but I did run into a lot of hesitance when I offered a taste to friends and family. Once people tried them, they loved them. But, to be at their best they need to be starting to shrivel- not an appealing look. There is a pic from the 10/23 post in this GW post.

The few times I’ve seen them, they do sell for a lot here. I’ve paid $5 (or was it $6?) for a half pint clam-shell which had exactly 9 hardy kiwis. It’s more than I would regularly pay, but I just had to find out how they tasted, as at the time I was considering increasing my planting.

If you want to decrease the time to bearing, make sure to plant some Issai. 2 benefits- not only will it flower younger, but it will produce some fruit without a male vine (which can also take some time to flower). My Issai flowered the year I planted it, but the crops were tiny (single digit fruit) for the first 2 years. By year 3 I got half a pint. Year 4 I got 3 quarts, which is probably getting into the marketable yield territory. The best of my other vines are still in the sub-pint territory and some haven’t produced anything yet.

If you decide to grow yellow raspberries, give Anne a try. It is firmer than many of the others, which would be important when you are selling them. I’ve gotten some yellows at farmers market and they were much smaller than Anne and crumbly/soft.

Another easy fruit to grow would be jujube. But I’m not sure how easy it would be to market, if you don’t have much Asian population in the area. It doesn’t look as scary as a properly ripened hardy kiwi, but at least people know what kiwi are, so it is easier to explain.

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Land, glad you checked this site out. All the fruit growers I admire from GW are all here…except for Konrad.

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Do you have an update on this project? I was curious what type of fruit you decided to grow?

Yellow raspberries have a reputation of being poor producers. As Scott mentioned, they aren’t red.

It really took about four years for mine to really catch on. Now they are producing well.

Yeah, I have to believe that if there was more demand for yellow raspberries, there would be more supply of yellow raspberries.

From what you describe, I would happily pay $4/lb, or more, for your stone fruit.