Active Chicago Market volunteer Maia Welbel researches urban agriculture. Here’s her great little guide to some of Chicago’s farms that are open to visitors. Check one out – or post on our Owners Facebook page if you’re interested in pulling others together for a group visit!
Upon its founding, the City of Chicago adopted the official motto, Urbs in Horto — Latin for "City in a Garden." This phrase has been upheld in the recent and exciting growth of the urban agriculture movement in Chicago. The city has established itself as a leader in using urban farming and gardening as a mechanism for social activism, sustainable development, improved food access, and economic advancement.
Strolling through one of Chicago’s neighborhoods, chances are you will come across a community garden or a bountiful patch in someone’s yard.
But if you want to learn more about how some organizations are making a difference by growing fresh, healthy food in our garden city, these urban farmers would love to show you around! Click on the name of the farm to get to their website for more information.
Growing Power runs urban farms in Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison. Their mission is to transform neighborhoods through community food systems. They offer on-site workshops and demonstrations focused on growing methods, and run educational outreach programs for adults and children, as well as producing and distributing healthy, affordable food.
Tours offered at Iron Street Urban Farm Tuesdays at 1:00pm, Thursdays at 1:00pm, and Saturdays at 10:00am and 1:00pm. Fee of $10 per person.
The Talking Farm is committed to sustainable food production, education, and green urban development. They collaborate with local businesses, civic organizations, and educational institutions. Produce grown on the two-acre Howard Street Farm is distributed to local restaurants, food pantries, farmers markets, schools and individuals. They also run educational gardens at schools throughout Chicago.
The farm offers workdays each month when visitors can work for a few hours while learning about horticulture and the organization. Workdays are open to the public and require no prior registration, but visitors must sign a waiver.
Growing Home operates two farms in Englewood and they are the only USDA-certified organic high-production urban farms in Chicago. They provide farm-based training for people with employment barriers, promote healthy community development in underserved neighborhoods, and help people build sustainable life-long careers.
Tours must be requested two weeks in advance and are not offered on weekends. Fee of $10 per person for groups of five or more visitors.
Plant Chicago is a shared production space located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, which aims to develop circular economies of food production, energy conservation, and material reuse. Their mission is to empower people and businesses to operate more sustainably and self-sufficiently through community-driven programming. The space houses various tenants, who produce small batch coffee, gourmet mushrooms, kombucha, fresh produce and other items, all of which are sold on-site at their farmers market.
Public tours are every Saturday at 2:00pm, and on market days at 11:30am. These include viewings of tech demonstration projects including the algae bioreactor and aquaponics farm. Fee is $7 for students and seniors, and $10 for adults. Private group tours can also be arranged. Contact [email protected].
Windy City Harvest is the Chicago Botanic Garden’s urban agriculture education initiative. The program offers training and educational opportunities to teens and adults, with an emphasis on empowering those with barriers to employment. They manage farms throughout the Chicago area; training and production headquarters are at the Arturo Velasquez Institute, a satellite campus of Daley College.
Tours are offered on Fridays at 11:00am and 12:15pm at the headquarters location where visitors can tour the greenhouse, hoop house, aquaponics system and growing beds. Register here in advance. Fee of $7 for students and $10 for adults. Group tours can also be arranged at six different farm locations; email [email protected].
Metropolitan Farms is a commercial scale, closed loop aquaponic farming operation in West Humboldt Park. The farm grows herbs, lettuce and fish year-round.
Public tours and events are regularly scheduled. Pre-purchasing tickets is recommended; fee of $15 per person.
City Farm is part of The Resource Center, a nonprofit environmental education organization focused on finding uses for overlooked resources. City Farm transforms vacant lots in Chicago into gardens, utilizing intensive recycling and reuse methods to minimize and reverse resource waste. By integrating education, energizing local economies, and beautifying neighborhoods, City Farm works to improve quality of life in Chicago one chemical-free plot at a time.
Tours are offered Wednesday and Saturday through Monday. Contact [email protected] to schedule. Fee of $5 per person.