On a bright, sunny Saturday in June, more than 1,500 people came to see just what was happening inside the renovated paint store along Ogden Avenue in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago.
It was the opening weekend for the Farm on Ogden, a joint project between the Chicago Botanic Garden and Lawndale Christian Health Center (LCHC) that brings food, health, and jobs together under one roof. Visitors explored the 7,300-square-foot greenhouse, marveled in the blue-purple glow of the 50,000-gallon aquaponics system, and picked up vegetables grown in the corner Windy City Harvest Youth Farm.
Autumn Berg, a North Lawndale resident for 17 years, could barely contain her emotions. “I’ve never been more excited about my neighborhood in my life,” she said.
The day before, Garden President and CEO Jean M. Franczyk thanked the many donors and partners for their generous support and steadfast belief that growing food locally makes for healthier individuals and communities. Speakers included Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Alderman Michael Scott, Jr. (24th).
“For a corner that needs economic development, it’s everything a community could ask for. I’m just so happy the Garden has decided to invest in a community like North Lawndale,” said Scott.
Here’s a look inside the Farm, which will be managed by Windy City Harvest, the Garden’s urban agriculture program, in partnership with LCHC.
Learn more about the Farm on Ogden at chicagobotanic.org/urbanagriculture.
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