In contrast to the stomach-churning revelation that our food system is in a state of “holy- mary-mother- of-monsanto-run-for-your-lives,” I was delighted to discover a group of our own superheroes, fighting to make our food safe and community healthy.
Few cities can compare with what Chicago has accomplished regarding urban-ag development. The list of community gardens and local food organizations are as impressive as our dining scene, so consider it your civic duty to at least check them out and spread the word. You won’t be disappointed.
These people are up to some pretty incredible stuff.
Windy City Harvest Workshops
2800 S. Western Avenue
If you’ve been meaning to bone-up on your gardening skills or learn how to grow food in an urban environment, now’s your chance.
All workshops for Windy City Harvest are held Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon in the greenhouse classroom at the Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western Avenue (enter the south parking lot at 31st Street). The cost is $39 per course. Registration for each class ends the Thursday one week prior to each class. All materials and handouts are provided. There is a $20 cancellation fee per class unless the class is canceled due to low enrollment. Workshops are taught by Chicago Botanic Garden and Windy City Harvest staff.
Iron Street Farm
3333 South Iron Street
This 7-acre site, bordered by the Chicago River, is located in Bridgeport at 3333 South Iron Street. Previously an abandoned industrial site, the renovated Iron Street property will serve as the City’s first “green” campus and Growing Power Chicago’s new Headquarters.
Iron Street Farm will provide healthy and sustainable food, composting, employment and educational opportunities, and green community development.
This unique farm will also act as a community food center, allowing for an integrated approach to addressing many community related concerns.
One Seed Chicago
The goal of One Seed Chicago is to engage current gardeners and nurture new gardeners to “green” Chicago, by growing gardens throughout the city.
They are a not-for-profit project of NeighborSpace, Chicago’s land trust for community gardens. NeighborSpace works in partnership with governmental agencies to preserve and expand community managed open space in Chicago.
OK, so here’s how it works—residents from the Chicagoland area vote on their favorite and One Seed distributes seeds of the winning plant as part of the season-long celebration. Teachers can also request a classroom size packet along with an educator guide.
You can grow these seeds in your garden, window box, container garden or a community garden near you, for free!
Altgeld Sawyer Farm
Corner of W Altgeld and N Sawyer
Logan Square/Chicago, IL
The Altgeld Sawyer “Corner Farm” is a collaborative urban-growing partnership and community garden located in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. (Corner of W Altgeld and N Sawyer) This garden serves as a meeting place, outdoor laboratory, and classroom too—they have a partnership with Christopher House School (across the street) and the students maintain projects throughout the season. This public plot isn’t just growing food—they grow milkweed and lilies for paper making fibers too!
The Corner Farm runs on volunteers, and their active membership is organized into a number of teams. They encourage you to get involved and join in on garden days.
Wednesdays through Summer
6:00 – 7:30 pm
Chicago Rarities Orchard Project (CROP)
An orchard in Logan Square? Chicago Rarities Orchard Project is a non-profit organization founded to establish community rare-fruit orchards in Chicago. They are dedicated to preserving a few of the thousands of varieties of tree fruit that aren’t commonly commercially grown, while providing open space and educational opportunities to Chicagoans. CROP is currently working with the City of Chicago and the architecture firm Altamanu to bring us our first orchard to Logan Square!