Chicago has announced plans that would make it home to the country's largest urban farm in the city's poverty-stricken South Side district.
The proposed development plan, called Perry Street farm, comes by way of the Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development's Green Healthy Neighborhoods program and is expected to be approved in the next few weeks. Approximately 100 acres in lots owned by the city will undergo a redevelopment program creating an "urban farm district" with farm stands all along three miles of former railroad lines that will also be converted into a greenbelt of city hiking and biking trails.
The long-range plan aims to turn the vacant lots into a thriving community built around local produce. According to Grist.org, "Not only will the farms bring healthy and affordable food to the community, the hope is that they will also create jobs and attract new housing, industry, and businesses" for the under served South Side community. Residents of the area spend approximately $20 million per year on food sourced outside of the immediate neighborhood. The farms would redirect those funds back into the local economy.
Chicago also recently announced another major achievement in urban farming. The city will be home to the first and largest certified organic vertical indoor farm powered by aquaponics. FarmedHere—the 90,000 square foot aeroponic vertical farm operation project—was made possible by a major $100,000 investment from Whole Foods Market, which already purchases a large amount of produce from FarmedHere. No word yet whether items grown at the Perry Street farms will be sold commercially to retailers like Whole Foods.
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Image: David Barrie