The Rid-All Green Partnership is the dream of three childhood friends who grew up together in Cleveland’s Lee-Miles neighborhood. Meet co-founders Damien Forshe, Keymah Durden, and Randy McShepard.
Damien Forshe (Co-Founder) Damien has owned and operated Rid-All Exterminating Corporation for 15 years, but his true passion is urban agriculture. Deeply embedded in him since his youth, Damien got the chance to fulfill his dream in 2011. His passion received a boost when he met Will Allen, head of Growing Power Inc. and the urban farmer recognized by Time Magazine in 2010 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Now Damien is investing his own money-and working with friends to attract capital to expand the Rid-All Green Partnership, an anchor in Cleveland’s Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone. This zone is a 26-acre area of mostly vacant city land bank and tax delinquent properties between E. 79 and E. 84 streets off of Kinsman Avenue.
The long-term strategy is to use urban agriculture to educate the next generation of Clevelanders to not only learn to grow and eat fresh foods, but to also operate and grow their own businesses in the food industry, ranging from selling fresh produce and fish to food distributors to full-fledged processing and packaging of fresh food products.
Damien is a 21st Century leader in the food revolution!
G. Keymah Durden III (Co-Founder) Keymah has an eclectic background. Although he is trained in avionic-mechanical engineering and construction, Keymah’s passion for sustainable living and environmental protection has taken him around the world. It has allowed him to get involved in several international programs and activities. In Ghana West Africa he was involved with the African Hebrew Development Agency (AHDA) in their Fresh Well Water Initiative and Healthy Lifestyles Program. In Israel he helped plan an International Sustainability Summit and was involved with the Dimona Community Agricultural Project. He is also a former co-owner of the internationally renowned Soul Vegetarian Restaurant and has been a practicing vegan for over 20 years.
Keymah is a graduate from Cuyahoga Community College’s Post Graduate Program in Environmental Health and Safety. One of his major areas of focus was storm water management. He along with other students actually put together an actual storm water management program for one of Cleveland’s local townships. But his specialty is public relations, urban agriculture, and deconstruction activities.
His goal and vision is simple, “creating access to holistic, nutritional food for the development of the communities around the world.” To this end he is eternally dedicated.
Randy McShepard (Co-Founder) Randy is Vice President of Public Affairs for RPM International Inc., one of Cleveland’s leading manufacturing and specialty coatings companies. He is responsible for coordinating external and governmental
affairs, including management of the corporate philanthropy programs and corporate purchasing initiatives.
In addition to his for-profit career, Randy has more than 15 years of management experience in the nonprofit sector in areas including economic development, workforce development and community service. He has also served as an independent consultant for over 20 years, working largely with organizations in the region that focus on community development, neighborhood revitalization and land use. Randy sees the confluence of urban agriculture and environmental stewardship as exactly what urban communities need to address key quality of life issues such as job creation, entrepreneurship, place-making, community engagement and education.
Randy is also the Co-Founder and Chairman of PolicyBridge, a public policy think tank serving the Northeast Ohio region. PolicyBridge’s 2009 research report, “Rebuilding Blocks,” was cited by the Rid-All Green Partnership as the blueprint that shaped the group’s current strategy for converting vacant land into thriving urban farms.
Randy is active on various boards including Baldwin Wallace University, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Community Service Alliance, which provides transitional housing for hundreds of the city’s homeless and displaced residents. He holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Urban Studies from the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, where he has been recognized twice as a distinguished alum.
Marc S. White (Co-Founder, Rid-All Farm Operations Manager) Fashion Designer, Humanitarian, Regenerative Specialist and Farmer. and one of the Original Green Partners of Rid-All Green Partnership.
As a student of life, and the first African American male graduate of Kent State’s School of Fashion in the Mid 1980’s, Marc has spent his career drawing inspiration from nature and the creation to form his unique design aesthetic. He has a philosophical vision of “traditional” clothing and culture that translates into completely modern sartorially pleasing and covetable wear. He brings vitality and art to a segment of this industry that was considered out of touch with the urban community for years. His products are classified green, focusing on providing sustainable and affordable articles made with longevity in mind. His manufacturing employs socially conscious production methods, or low impact processes as well as the use of vintage, re-purposed and or up-cycled products.
As with clothing, Marc saw early on that the human body is the original canvas of God’s creative expression and that contemporary standards of beauty were not favoring the innate resident beauty that every human naturally possessed; creating low self-esteem and identity crises in many people. To echo Marc “We are an outer reflection of an inner condition.” Optimum health through nutrition and righteous thinking plays a major role when it comes to our aesthetic beauty and overall wellness.
Living abroad between 1990 and 2010, Marc had the opportunity to reside in West Africa, Israel and Europe. Steeped in the deep rich culture of his journeys, he has gleaned much creative inspiration from this exposure.
In 2003 Marc Co-Founded the Dimona Greening Company, an urban greening company in Southern Israel whose objective was to raise the green standards and practices of the people there. This initiative fostered personal and environmental consciousness towards a more sustainable and regenerative life.
In the Fall of 2011 Marc was propositioned by longtime friends, fraternity brothers and Rid-all Co-founders Keymah, Damien and Randy to come back to Cleveland, manage the project and bring his spirit to the farm. Marc has produced a line of clothing and products that demonstrated a combination of utility and elegance called “Reconstructed”, as well as a regenerative juice and food product line called “The Urban Farm Doctor’s” super food line.
Marc specializes in growing relationships, healing herbs and succulent plants seen and experienced every time you come by their farm.
Dave “Dr. Greenhand” Hester (Co-Founder) Dave has been in-purpose since he was five-years old, already knowing his purpose. From his grandmother’s hand came his true passion for the Earth. “She taught me that, all great conversations take place around a meal”. From his early days of producing food for neighbors and friends, he began to understand food and the power of feeding people good food.
A graduate of Cleveland’s Glenville High School, student of agriculture at Ohio State University’s Agriculture Technology Institute, and a Marine Veteran from 1979 to 1983, his rounded experiences gives you a bigger picture of the unique qualities that Dr. Greenhand brings to the team. “I learned from my grandmother that the secret to beautiful, healthy plants and vegetables is the soil and clean water; Soil is alive!” Dr. Greenhand offers his learned definition of healthy soil: “It’s viable, it has nutrients, and plants are able to live and grow in it. In dirt, you only have mud, dust particles and a little bit of soil; dirt is inert – it is not alive. “
With a strong fatherly presence, Dr. Greenhand learned how to grow vegetables and fell in love with it. In 1975, at the age of 16 the Horticulture Program at his high school was closed down but this did not take him away from his journey with the soil. He enrolled at The Ohio State University and was accepted into the Agriculture Program. Life circumstances introduced him to military service as a teenager to advance his educational pursuits. This time aboard allowed for him to learn many different farming practices and to enhance his passions connected to soil. This also gave him a worldview of his passion for the soil. This would prove very valuable for him today in his role at Rid-All Green Partnership as the Dr. of All Green Things!
Finishing his term and returning home was his desire. Family and friends embraced him and provided him a platform to be one of the originators of the Rid-All Green Partnership. While he is a Master Gardener landscaping is his specialty. He is the mastermind behind the beauty that visitors experience when they tour the Rid-All Campus.
Dr. Greenhand has a very sound mission: “Educate our youth so they become Stewards of the Earth”. A personal and profound mission shared by all the members of the Rid-All Green Partnership Team. Knowledge is Power!