BFRDP Projects

Windy City Harvest: Training Beginner Farmers for Chicago`s Urban Agriculture Community
[Final Report]

Award Amount: $712,500
Grant Program: 2015 Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program Awards
Project Director: Angela Mason
Organization: Chicago Horticultural Society


  • Overview
  • Results
  • Materials
  • Delivery Area
  • Comments

Project Overview

Since the beginning of the grant period, Windy City Harvest (WCH) trained 717 individuals, including 507 from socially-disadvantaged groups and 8 veterans, in sustainable urban agriculture. The training continuum included a nine-month Apprenticeship, transitional jobs for ex-offenders, youth development for low-income teens, certificate courses, and single-day intensive workshops. Thirty urban farmers representing 17 small businesses were incubated and received access to land, tools, market channels, and ongoing mentorship as they launched their enterprises. WCH expanded the capacity of urban agriculture in Chicago by placing 90 individuals in related jobs, generating more than 240,000 pounds of fresh produce, providing 128,590 servings of food to low-income individuals (including those purchasing via federal food benefits), and by creating new or expanded partnerships with the Lawndale Christian Health Center, Loyola University Health System/Proviso Partners for Health, Catholic Charities, and Brinshore Michaels Development.

On June 23, 2018, the Farm on Ogden, WCH's indoor farm and training center in Chicago's North Lawndale community, opened to the public with a day-long community open house that attracted 1,500 attendees. The facility significantly enhances WCH's ability to train beginning farmers. Formerly incarcerated individuals in the Corps and work/study programs can now learn aquaponics techniques with access to the Farm's commercial-scale growing system. Training opportunities, once offered primarily in the summer and shoulder seasons, will now be available year-round, enabling trainees to understand the full lifecycle of an urban farm, including crop planning and propagation. Open to the public Tuesday through Saturday, the Farm has also offered a critical platform for engaging the local community. Local residents come to the Farm seeking fresh produce, which is available at the indoor farm stand, as well as educational and employment opportunities, and gardening tips--all of which are readily available.

Number of Participants: 717


Promotional Materials

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Educational Materials

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Reports & Evaluations

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Delivery Area

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Individual Stories / Examples of Success