City Farm: Chicago, Illinois
urban sprawl is eating up
farms as suburbs expand.
"Why not bring farms to the city?"
City Farm is a project of the
THERE ARE more than 80,000 vacant lots in
City farm started investigating whether intensive urban farming could provide enough income to support a house hold
"We found that by planning and planting carefully, you can create a job for an individual on about 10,000 square feet or about four lots,"
The anchor of the urban farming program is the center's static pile composting operation. The center contracts with bars, restaurants and grocery stores for food residuals; it has agreements with the Chicago Police Stables for its horse manure; and it accepts yard trimmings from landscapers - producing approximately 10,000 cubic yards/year of compost.
Another link that must be strong is the one between the farm and the community. An ideal situation, Dunn explains, has been established between a farmer and a school that has an adjacent plot of land. The farmer is allowed to use the land in exchange for teaching students about growing produce in a school gardening curriculum. "The nice thing about that situation is that one of the requirements of having an urban farm is having a relationship with the community and with the kids," says Dunn.
Four restaurants and three farmers markets currently purchase the produce. Contracts with restaurants are especially helpful because the fees are paid up front. On the other side, the chefs are paying for convenience and peace of mind. "We've discovered an attractive mix," Dunn notes. "Chefs don't have the time to purchase everything themselves or train a staff member what to look for. Our growers consistently produce the quality in appearance and taste that the chefs require and deliver it to the restaurant."
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