January 12, 2017

USDA-NRCS Announces $300,000 for Cook County Urban Farmers

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces $300,000 in financial and technical assistance for Cook County agricultural producers!

Learn about eligible projects and receive one-on-one application assistance at an informational workshop on Wednesday, January 25th, 9am-12pm. The training is free, open to the public, and organized by the USDA-NRCS, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, and the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development. Click here to register for this workshop.

Funding is through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and designated for urban agricultural producers who address natural resource concerns. In 2016, participants received funding to implement three practices: hoop houses, conservation cover, and cover crops. Historically disadvantaged and beginning farmers may be eligible for increased payments.

January 25th, 2017 USDA-NRCS Workshop Schedule:

  • 9am-9:30am: Joint presentation from NRCS and the USDA Farm Service Agency
  • 9:30am-12: Tables for one-on-one with prospective applicants to answer questions on: 1) farm tract number, 2) ownership documents for the application (i.e. how to get a copy of your land deed), 3) eligible projects and anticipated expenses

There are no pre-requisites to attending. USDA-NRCS encourages interested urban ag producers to submit a NRCS-CPA-1200 form before the next enrollment period ends on January 20th, however it is not required. Contact your local NRCS Service Center to submit an application. NRCS will work with you to develop a conservation plan after the application is submitted. Visit the NRCS website for more information on their programs.

Workshop location: The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, 233 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 800, inside the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). It is highly accessible by public transportation. Please allow 10-15 minutes to pass through security and bring a valid state ID.

About the program: The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers in order to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, or improved or created wildlife habitat.

Click here to register for this free workshop.

About the organizers:

– Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is a coalition of individuals, organizations and businesses working to support and expand sustainable agriculture in the Chicago area, from home- and community-based growing to market gardens and small farms.

– NRCS helps America’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners conserve the nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.

– The City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is its principal planning agency and promotes the comprehensive growth and sustainability of the City and its neighborhoods.

January 3, 2017

Thank You for Helping AUA Reach our Year-End Fundraising Goal!

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A grateful thank you to all who helped AUA reach our year-end goal of raising $1,000! As a grassroots organization, your support is integral to our coalition’s work of promoting sustainable urban agriculture in Chicago. Thank you as well to all the volunteers who contributed their time, efforts and passion in 2016! Our successes would not be possible without you.

AUA is dedicated to connecting people and communities across our city to create a strong, united voice for urban agriculture, and to providing opportunities for practitioners to share information and resources. Thank you for your involvement in this movement, and we look forward to working together in this new year!

December 30, 2016

Get Involved! 8th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Food Justice and Sustainability Weekend: January 13-15, 2017

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Climate Change and Water

KAM Isaiah Israel’s Food Justice and Sustainability Committee presents the 8th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Food Justice and Sustainability Weekend. The focus this year is Climate Change and Water. The weekend long education and advocacy program includes a keynote address on climate change and a resilient food system, workshops on topics ranging from lead contamination in urban water, to soil carbon sequestration and improved food production, to irrigation management and rain fall mitigation structures. The weekend also features a community design workshop case study at which a three acre urban food forest will be designed for the roof of a big box store. The goal of the weekend is to provide participants with powerful tools for change and a heightened motivation to work toward a greener, more equitable and sustainable world.

January 13 – 15, 2017

All events are held at KAM Isaiah Israel and are free of charge and open to the public. Learn more and register here!


Friday, January 13
7:30 PM

Shabbat service followed by keynote address by the Director of Fresh Taste, Karen Lehman. The title of her talk is Earth, We’ve Got You Covered: Food System Resilience In the Context Of Climate Change.


Saturday, January 14
4:30 – 6:30 PM

Community Design Workshop: An Urban Food Forest Case Study, a Big Box Store

•       Annie Gill-Bloyer, Farm Manager Emerita, KAM Isaiah Israel
•       Noel Deehr, Farm Supervisor, Seminary Hill Farm, Delaware, Ohio
•       David Durstewitz, KAM Isaiah Israel Farm and Food Forest School Instructor
•       Breanne Heath, Farmer, The Pie Patch
•       Annamaria Leon, Manager, Edible Landscapes, Christy Weber Landscapes
•       Amy Coffman Phillips, Co-Founder, Biomimicry Chicago
•       Robert Nevel (moderator), Founder, KAM Isaiah Israel Food Justice and Sustainability Program

6:30 PM:  Reception


Sunday, January 15:  Workshops
10:00 AM – 2:45 PM

10:00 – 10:45 AM

  1. Using Cover Crops to Improve Soil Health, Duane Friend, Educator, Environmental Stewardship and Energy, University of Illinois Extension
  2. Native Species Strategies in the Era of Climate Change, Jason Zylka, Illinois Native Plant Society Northeast Chapter
  3. Water, Water Everywhere – Will We Have A Drop To Drink? Urban Lead Contamination and Shrinking Surface Water In Light Of Global Warming, Doriane C. Miller, M.D., Director, Center for Community Health and Vitality, Urban Health Initiative, University of Chicago Medicine
  4. Land, Fuel and Water: the Three Hidden Ingredients On Every Plate, JP McIntyre, Chef
  5. Soil Moisture Improvements with Biochar, Mark Moxley, Lake Street Supply and Tom Marrero, PhD, Wakefield Biochar

11:00 – 11:45 AM

  1. Cultivating Soil Microbes – Promoting Below Ground Biodiversity To Maximize Soil Ecosystem Services, Dr. Bala Chaudhary, Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Science and Studies, DePaul University
  2. Urban Farming and Gardening in the Age of Unpredictable Weather: Irrigation Management, Rain Barrel Water Safety, Rain Fall Mitigation Structures, Mulches, and Monitoring Rainfall, Zachary Grant, Local Foods and Small Farms Educator for the University of Illinois Extension
  3. Advocacy For Climate and Water: How to Make Your Voice Heard and Work Towards Positive Environmental Change, Jennifer Walling, Executive Director, Illinois Environmental Council
  4. Healing Our Food System, From Water Rights to Worker Rights, Jose Oliva, Co-Director, Food Chain Workers Alliance

12:00 – 1:00 PM:  Complimentary Lunch

1:00 – 1:45 PM

  1. Climate Variability and Soils, Duane Friend, Educator, Environmental Stewardship and Energy, University of Illinois Extension
  2. The Carbon Cycle, Soil and Climate Change: How Soil Carbon Sequestration Can Improve Food Production and Reduce Atmospheric Carbon, Breanne Heath, Farmer, The Pie Patch
  3. Root to Seed, How to Get the Best Out of Your Food, David Durstewitz, KAM Isaiah Israel Farm and Food Forest School Instructor
  4. Space to Grow: An Innovative Approach to StormwaterManagement, Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa, Neighborhood Programs Director, Openlands

2:00 – 2:45 PM

  1. The Boyz and the Bees, Urban Bee Keeping, Thad J. Smith, Cofounder and Head Beekeeper, Westside Bee Boyz LLC
  2. Inseparable Nature: Water and Soil Conservation Practices in a Time of Climate Disruption, Dave Coulter, Horticulturist & Owner; Osage Inc.
  3. Weathering Change: Self Sufficiency By Using Food As Medicine, Geeta Maker-Clark, M.D., Integrative Family Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Integrative Medical Education, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago
  4. Urban Agriculture and Civic Engagement in Chicago, Nick Lucas, Outreach Coordinator, Advocates for Urban Agriculture

All events are held at KAM Isaiah Israel and are free of charge and open to the public. Learn more and register here!

December 30, 2016

AUA Named One of Five Urban Farming Projects to Watch in 2017: Last Chance to Help Us Reach Our Year-End Fundraising Goal!

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As we all look ahead to a new year, we’re proud to share that AUA was recently named one of Five Urban Farming Projects in Chicago to Watch in 2017 by the Chicago Tribune! The ambitious plans that we and our coalition are growing continue to transform Chicago – but we can only do it with your support. These are the final days of our campaign to raise $1,000 by 12/31 for our grassroots organization – and we’re almost 80% there! Will you join the year-end giving of fellow urban agriculture supporters and contribute as much as you can today?

Urban agriculture provides essential green infrastructure in our city. It connects practitioners and residents to nutritious food, to educational opportunities, to economic and community development, to neighborhood green space, and to so much more. Will you support AUA as we promote this transformation in our city?

Your year-end giving to AUA supports the growth of the urban agriculture movement. That’s not all though! With a donation of:

aua-real-gloves– $75 or more receive: two delicious free drinks at our 2017 New Year’s Resolutions Celebration + 10% off any Peterson Garden Project cooking or gardening class + snazzy AUA-embossed gardening gloves
$50 or more receive: 10% off any Peterson Garden Project cooking or gardening class + snazzy AUA-embossed gardening gloves
$30 or more receive: snazzy AUA-embossed gardening gloves!

Thank you to all who have donated in 2016, and to those about to contribute. As we look ahead to 2017, we’re excited to kick off the big year with a New Year’s Resolutions Celebration on Saturday, January 7th, at Whiner Beer Company! Don’t miss this fun start to an action filled year, and pick up your stylish AUA gardening gloves at the same time!

Your contribution and involvement invest in a sustainable city and future. Thank you for all that you do, and wishing you the very best in the new year!