Urban Farming is on the rise, providing the resource to reimagine city blocks, and bring productive use to vacant properties. Community focused farming is a powerful tool to nourish communities, both with locally grown food as well as neighborhood focus. There is a feeling of connection to our food when working in the garden, an opportunity to feel the result of hard work and commitment and to connect with fellow members of our community in a meaningful way.
My own personal experience with my plots in our local community garden have been like nothing I could have imagined. The multigenerational friendships, and mentorships I have enjoyed have enriched my life, above and beyond the gifts of heirloom seeds, and coveted family bread recipes from my neighboring gardeners. I was pleased to learn that ’Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood could become the backbone of the nation’s largest urban agriculture district: The city’s planning commission is moving to approve an ambitious land-use plan that would reclaim some of the area’s 11,000 vacant lots, spanning 13 square miles.’ The urban planning opportunities to benefit the community more broadly include ‘a 2.5-mile abandoned rail line which could be the district’s spine, with open lots and parks around its periphery serving as a marketplace for local produce and artisanal products. Locals have taken to calling it the “New Era Trail.”
For Englewood, as well as areas like it, this strong design platform has set the stage to ‘encourage a budding grassroots movement around urban agriculture by consolidating data, promoting education, and even encouraging light manufacturing.’ A big idea, not without challenge and opposition, but providing a platform for revitalization and community growth.