There are many wonderful urban farms in our region. Places like Eden’s Place in Fuller Park, organizations like Growing Power, and resident-driven efforts such as the Bush Community Garden of Hope are leading the way. These local agriculture efforts are serving several goals: creating access to healthy foods, improving health, educating residents, reclaiming vacant land, and providing job training and employment opportunities. However, if you ask the urban farmers and community-based organizations driving these local initiatives, you will hear a range of stories about how hard it is to get it done. From prohibitive zoning codes and landscaping ordinances to cost- and time-intensive environmental clean-up measures, growing in urban environments can be tough.
This is why the Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Disparities (CEED) at the University of Illinois Chicago is working to increase support for community-based agriculture and overcome some of the barriers hindering it. CEED is hosting a day-long workshop, Planning Local Food Production for Healthier Communities, on Wednesday, July 27, 2011, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The workshop is designed to foster partnerships and dialogue between elected officials, planners, and community agriculture practitioners. To inform this workshop and its resulting actions, CEED has conducted interviews with many planners and practitioners throughout the greater Chicago region, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan, to identify barriers, challenges, opportunities, and successes that are common and can benefit from shared solutions. Participants will come away from the workshop with tools to plan for their local food system and will help set priorities for CEED as they advance policy change.
We at MPC are particularly interested in this project because it is such a wonderful example of creating vibrant public spaces and working with municipal leaders to remove regulatory barriers and establish effective long-term partnerships. This is core to our Placemaking work. Also, as communities across the region grapple with what to do with underutilized and distressed land, urban agriculture will continue to be an important solution. However, this will require thoughtful and responsive policies and regulations that will make it easier to create urban farms. We look forward to participating in this workshop to learn how we can help advance systemic changes that will allow for the creation of more urban farms in the region. We hope you will join!
Register by July 20th by clicking here. On-site registration will not be available.