Editor’s note: this post is a part of our series on successful urban farming initiatives in the United States.
While much green development over the past decade or so has happened on the coasts, Chicago has demonstrated to the rest of the US that flyover country has plenty to contribute on this front, also. Mayor Richard Daley’s push for green roofs in the city became symbolic of his efforts to make the Hog Butcher of the World the greenest city in America; new mayor Rahm Emanuel has continued and even expanded upon his predecessor’s efforts.
Sustainable development and urban agriculture go hand-in-hand, and Chicago’s taken some very innovative steps towards increasing food production within the urban core, and recognizing the social and environmental benefits that come from inner city farming. Among the examples of the city’s successful embrace of urban agriculture:
- The presence of Advocates for Urban Agriculture, an umbrella group that guides the city forward in its efforts to create productive green spaces, and to open up the educational and economic opportunities that accompany urban farming.
- The establishment of several rooftop farms, including the restaurant Uncommon Ground’s certified organic growing space on the top of its own building, and The Gary Comer Youth Center Roof Garden in the Grand Crossing neighborhood (which won an honorable mention from the American Society for Landscape Architects).
- The presence of many, many urban agricultural sites. I couldn’t find an exact, or even an approximate number; the city does have over 600 community gardens in total, though. Some of the urban farms include the Resource Center’s City Farm, which borders the Cabrini-Green and Gold Coast neighborhoods, five separate farms operated by Milwaukee-based Growing Power, and many others (which you’ll get to see in a minute).
- Active local government support: just this week, Mayor Emanuel introduced a proposed ordinance “to expand community gardens and urban farms to promote economic development, job creation and increase access to healthy food options in food deserts.”
Once again, I’m just scratching the surface. To get a little more depth, take a look at this video produced by the Chicago Botanic Garden in 2009:
I know we’ve got friends in Chicago… so please tell us what we’ve missed!
Next: Kansas City