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 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 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 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.