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Chicago’s urban farm district could be the biggest in the nation

A rendering of the planned urban farm district, which would run along the Chicago’s New ERA Trail.

11,000 vacant lots totalling 800 acres available

By Lori Rotenberk
Nov 15, 2012
Lori Rotenberk is a Chicago-based journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, Chicago Wilderness Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times.


Chicago’s Black Belt area, on the historic South Side, was once a hub for jazz, blues, and literature, but today is riddled with vacant lots, poverty, and blight. Now, a new plan envisions the area as a thriving urban farm district.

In the coming weeks, the city’s planning department is expected to approve the creation of a green belt with a strong focus on urban agriculture within the neighborhood of Englewood. The plan is an element of Chicago’s Department of Housing and Economic Development’s (DHE) Green Healthy Neighborhoods initiative, designed to shepherd and foster redevelopment in 13 square miles of the South Side. Years of disinvestment and population decline have left the area riddled with 11,000 vacant lots totaling 800 acres.

Peter Strazzabosco, deputy commissioner for the DHE, says that although the plan lays out a district “with a small d,” the city has a deep history in urban planning know-how. He, along with other city officials and community organizers, hope the farm district will help stabilize the South Side by putting vacant land to use and creating entrepreneurial and job opportunities. They also expect it to become a model for other city planners as well as a tourist destination for people interested in farming

Read the complete article here.

See urban agriculture plans in ‘Planning for Green and Healthy Chicago Neighborhoods’ Chicago here.