26th November 2017

Urban agriculture in Bronzeville

Today I visited three urban agriculture projects in Bronzeville to see how they had wound down for the winter. The first, Legends South Urban Farm, is one of the larger urban agriculture projects in Chicago, located on part of the former site of the Robert Taylor public housing project. This farm is operated under the Windy City Harvest programme, a not-for-profit education scheme funded by Chicago Botanic Garden, with the aim of training up urban agriculture apprentices.
The second site I visited is called the Bronzeville Alliance Neighbor Garden, and this is also food producing, split between two sites either side of a quiet street in a residential area. I could see a new hoop house under construction.
The third and final site visited, 42nd Street Garden, was different to the preceding two insofar as it is clearly intended to be a garden more than a farm. Though there were a few food planting beds at one end of the site, the majority of space was dedication to ornamental flower beds, winding paths and pieces of outdoor art - far more closely resembling the community gardens in New York City's East Village neighbourhood, visited on 25th June (see separate blog post of that date). A comparison:

Legends South Urban Farm

  • Primary purpose: food production
  • Planting type: ground level (ridge and furrow)
  • Size: an entire block (420ft x 230ft / 2.2 acres)

Bronzeville Alliance Neighbor Garden

  • Primary purpose: food production
  • Planting type: raised beds
  • Size: area equivalent to three or four residential plots, split into two sites either side of Calumet Avenue

42nd Street Garden

  • Primary purpose: neighbourhood beautification
  • Planting type: raised beds
  • Size: one residential plot on the corner of a block

'Legends South' Urban Farm - most crops have been harvested by this point.

Bronzeville Alliance Neighbor Garden - note additional site on other side of street.

A cabbage ready for harvest in Bronzeville Alliance Neighbor Garden.

42nd Street Garden - urban agriculture portion of the site in the foreground, community garden behind.