Posts Tagged ‘Southside Chicago’

{Check out the more detailed write up on Chicago’s black urban farming scene in my series post on Grist.org}

Unfortunately my time in ChiTown was not as long as I’d hoped, but who knows maybe I’ll be back there again soon.

I’d originally applied to intern with Growing Power, a booming urban farm and education org that’s based in Milwaukee with some great projects going on in Chicago, but due to their celebrity status level of business (GP was founded by ex-NBA player Will Allen and is a very large and expanding productive farm), they had to cancel their fall intern program in Chicago and push my application back to the Spring or Summer.

I think I’d rather be in Chicago when it’s not minus 10 degrees anyway.

But when booking my train to Detroit, I decided to veer to Chicago first and just check out the Growing Power gardens, along with some other urban farm projects there.

Everyone I’d ever met from Chicago had always casually told me that it’s the greatest city in the world – they’d say it so seriously and without blinking that you’d wonder if it was a proven statistic. But as soon as I was there, riding above the Brooklyn-like neighborhoods on the “L”, looking out at the skyscrapers near Lake Michigan, I could already see what they were talking about. This place had charm.

I had only decided to stop into Chicago a day before, so I’d quickly scoured CouchSurfing.com for a place to crash and was lucky to have a sweet grad student at UIC open her home to me on short notice. She met me at the L station and hooked me up with maps of the city and tips on where to explore.

When I told her I wasn’t really there to explore much else but some farms in the Southside, her face was pure confusion. Not only at the mention of farms, but in the Southside of Chicago much less, a neighborhood that was notorious for having one murder a day.

But this is exactly why I was excited to see this farm project.  Growing Home is an organization that works with formerly incarcerated and substance abuse residents in the Southside to provide job training on their urban farm which consists mainly of three large and productive hoop houses.

And the Growing Power Chicago gardens were really impressive. The one I was able to visit was located right in the middle of Grant Park and had absolutely no weeds and looked immaculate which I couldn’t wrap my head around after coming from farms where weeds were a mainstay. GP also has a couple more sites in the Southside of Chicago and work with inner-city youth for farm-based education.

The sliver of work that I saw going on here was dope and I wished I’d had more time in ChiTown…until next time!

Next Stop D Town.

(The past few weeks have been moving faster than me, so these posts are a little backdated, I will  try to catch up to real time soon–as I am now back in Brooklyn for the Black Farmers Conference!)

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