Introducing the Farm on Ogden

The Chicago Botanic Garden and Lawndale Christian Health Center made progress in 2016 toward establishing the Farm on Ogden, a food hub and training center, and piloting the Food as Medicine initiative. This work represents a partnership between Lawndale Christian Health Center (LCHC) and Windy City Harvest (WCH), the Chicago Botanic Garden’s sustainable urban agriculture program. In the past year, what began as a simple cleanup of an old bow-truss building grew into the redevelopment of an entire block deep on Chicago’s West Side.

The Farm on Ogden, will now be a 29,500-square-foot food hub and training facility, with an adjacent quarter-acre Windy City Harvest Youth Farm. This complex will engage youth and adults in growing food, increase consumption of produce in food insecure households, educate participants and community residents about healthy eating, and grow the local food system by training more than 200 people in sustainable urban agriculture. The site will link small urban farmers, culinary training programs, healthcare providers, urban developers, distributors, and end users together through a unique ecosystem of proven partners.

Farm on Ogden – Fall 2017

The Chicago Botanic Garden and Lawndale Christian Health Center are anticipating a Farm on Ogden construction start in April with a grand opening in fall 2017. Once completed, the Farm on Ogden will be a highly visible addition to Chicago’s West Side, just two blocks from the LCHC’s main clinic at a transportation hub of Ogden Avenue and the CTA Central Park pink line.

In contrast to the many boarded-up buildings and hidden activities on Chicago’s West Side, the transparency of the Farm on Ogden is intended to draw the curious. In addition to the planned aquaponics system, hydroponics will also be included, and both will be visible street-side. The six interior grow beds, six aquatic tanks, and a 6,000-square-foot greenhouse will support fish (tilapia) and leafy greens production; its scale will allow training for commercial businesses.

Ex-offenders in transitional jobs will use the micro-processing center to learn preparation of vegetables for ready-to-eat packages, while a commercial kitchen will be used by incubator farmers to develop products, such as tomato sauce, jams, and honey, which will be sold and available through a healthy corner store. The kitchen will also offer cooking/nutrition classes for LCHC patients, area adults, and youth. Cold storage in two walk-in coolers will assist with managing the aggregation, processing, and distribution of products from 13 sites. An enclosed produce-packing station will help WCH meet Good Agricultural Practice standards and further professionalize food safety and post-harvest produce handling. The facility will centralize WCH offices and streamline operations. A large multi-purpose community space will provide room for Food as Medicine classes and produce-box pickup. The adjacent quarter-acre Youth Farm will use the facilities year-round for programming with high school students. The site will serve as conducted jointly between the Chicago Botanic Garden and Lawndale Christian Health Center.

Presented by: Windy City Harvest

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