Could Nation's Largest Urban Farm District Stabilize Chicago's South Side?

Officials in Chicago envision an ambitious plan for a 100-acre urban agriculture district as the foundation for reviving an area of the city now "riddled with vacant lots, poverty, and blight," reports Lori Rotenberk.

Plans for the district, which will take advantage of an estimated 100 acres of city-owned, vacant parcels located across from the three-mile long New ERA (Englewood Re-making America) Trail, are a central element in the Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development’s (DHE) Green Healthy Neighborhoods initiative. The trail, which is envisioned as a linear park with foot and bike trails and farm stands, will form a spine connecting the vacant parcels, which will be "converted into farms and other agricultural projects."

"Not only will the farms bring healthy and affordable food to the community," says Rotenberk, "the hope is that they will also create jobs and attract new housing, industry, and businesses."

“'This is not a pie-in-the-sky plan,' says [Brandon Johnson, a public economist], explaining that Chicago is not just adding a few farms and calling it a district. 'It’s urban planning from the bottom up. It’s a long-range plan to turn a community filled with vacant lots into a community built around agriculture. Think of what Chicago was during the heyday of the (Union) Stockyards when it was the ‘Hog Butcher for the World.’ Only this time it will be built around local produce."

Full Story: Chicago’s urban farm district could be the biggest in the nation

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