The Chicago Botanic Garden, through its Windy City Harvest system, has developed a two-acre urban farm and incubator within the footprint of the former Robert Taylor Homes public housing project (now Legends South). The program’s new Legends Farm, supported by site developer Brinshore-Michaels and USDA, includes multiple quarter-acre farm plots, as well as shared-use tool storage, a Good Agricultural Practices-approved wash pack station, and hoophouse propagation space. The urban farm will occupy the site until the homeownership portion of the new mixed-income development is ready to be built.
This public-private initiative is dedicated to education, community development, and entrepreneurship training. Last spring, two beginner or “incubator” farmers started growing their crops in raised beds at the site. These Windy City Harvest graduates have completed the nine-month certificate program; taken another required course, Business and Entrepreneurship for Local Foods; and are working toward careers in urban agriculture. Each received a quarter-acre of land to work, along with shared tools, cooler space, and the guidance of an on-site farmer. The two-year incubator period also gives starting farmers shared access to markets until they secure a Chicago business license.