Urban Ag Incubator Seeks to Grow Farmers in Chicago

Lori Rotenberk reports on a new seven-acre urban “accelerator farm” announced yesterday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that seeks to fill Chicago's farmer drought and deepens the city's investment in building its agricultural sector.

"Called South Chicago Farm, [the incubator] will be the seeding ground for Farmers for Chicago, a recruiting program announced today by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Growing Power, the Milwaukee-based urban farming organization founded by MacArthur Award-winning urban ag luminary Will Allen," says Rotenberk. "The three-year, tuition-based farm becomes part of the city’s new “incubator network” through which the city is making land available for farmer training. Emanuel, who unveils the network plan today, says getting farmers on the land is the next big step toward building a strong, local agriculture system."

"Training and incubator farms will further advance Chicago’s goals for urban agriculture by not only creating a local food supply, but teaching marketable job skills including hoop house construction, food processing, compost production, and both retail and wholesale sales," she explains. "Via the incubator network, farmers will be able to graduate to city-owned land, helping to make use of hundreds of vacant lots created by disinvestment and economic blight."

"The network further deepens the city’s commitment to urban agriculture and providing healthy food for residents. In 2011, a new urban agriculture ordinance went on the books, and late last year, Emaneul [sic] announced the formation of an urban farm district on the city’s south side. Last month he set an agenda to get Chicagoans eat healthier."

Full Story: Chicago tackles the next big challenge in urban ag: Growing farmers


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