Proposals Underway to Build Community Garden, Urban Farm and Nature Preserve

September 8, 2011


Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced proposals to City Council today that would provide for the development of a North Side nature preserve, a South Side urban farm, and a West Side community garden.

 "Chicago's natural areas, whether they're used for growing food or for recreation, are essential to neighborhood health and well being. These proposals would help reinforce the City's commitment to improving and expanding these assets," Mayor Emanuel said.

Nature Preserve

The nature preserve would be located on 21 acres of woods and wetlands on the northwest corner of Rosehill Cemetery at 5900 N. Western Ave. Under the proposal, the City would acquire the property for $7.8 million and eventually improve it for passive recreational uses.

The site was never developed for cemetery use. It includes mixed woodlands and a seven-acre pond that are identified in Chicago's "Nature and Wildlife Plan" as forming part of a unique, natural landscape within the Lincoln Square community.

Tax Increment Financing and tax exempt bonds would be used to purchase the property and dredge the pond.

Future enhancements would involve new trails and wildlife viewing platforms. Once developed, the preserve would be owned and managed by the Chicago Park District.

 Honore Street Farm

The urban farm would be created by the sale of 10 pacels of City-owned land for use by Growing Home, an organic farming business that provides transitional job training to homeless and low-income individuals.

The parcels, located on the 5800 blocks of South Wolcott and Honore streets,  would be used by Growing Home to raise organic produce that would be sold to community residents and at farmer’s markets. The proposed sale price is $1 for all 10 parcels.

The NeighborSpace land trust would own the land and Growing Home would manage the property as Honore Street Farm, which would serve as an extension of its nearby Wood Street Farm.

Ujima Garden

The community garden would be developed on one parcel of City-owned land at 545 N. Central Park Ave., which would be used by local residents for growing vegetables in raised beds. Plans also call for a walking path, shed, compost bin and rain barrel.

The City would sell the 5,900-square-foot site for $1 to the NeighborSpace land trust, which would provide insurance and make the land available for local Humboldt Park residents to provide day-to-day upkeep.

The City’s GreenCorps program would fund the installation and maintenance of the garden as part of an initiative aimed at unifying the community and promoting healthy living.

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