To give you an idea, Green Youth Farm is located in Greenbelt Forest Preserve off Green Bay Road in North Chicago. It's a Chicago Botanic Garden project, which really got me interested. Have you seen my post about Cabbage and Violets, just for a tiny sample of what the CBG has to offer to gardeners?
At Green Youth Farm, local teenagers from the area learn job and life skills while also learning about and working on a one-acre organic farm. They work part time together with staff and learn about composting, natural pest deterrent options instead of conventional pesticides, and a ton of other great things.
The kids and I caught up to a local library group also strolling through the farm grounds and listened to a staff member explain the different plants and answer questions. The workers, in the meantime, were all around taking care of plants and learning about different plants and methods of farming.
This familiar looking weed is purslane. No, they don't sell garden weeds there. But you can actually eat it! And it's loaded with nutrients. Purslane is another example of the Colombian Exchange, a weed commonly eaten in Europe that came over accidentally with white settlers just like dandelions did.
You can see purslane growing between these onions...
Check out this idea with tomato plants, basil and marigolds along the bottom outside edge of the row to deter pests and help the tomato plants. Brilliant! I plan on doing this next year in my garden.
This is what cilantro looks like when it "seeds". The seeds become one of my favorite spices... Coriander!
Produce is sold every Wednesday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., starting July 9 through October 8. The best part? It supports their efforts and keeps the program going.
When we had arrived, I assumed I would give the kids each a dollar to buy some produce with.
I left with a half-bushel of organic produce. The cost was a mere $15 and we also received a $10 coupon for our next visit as well as a recipe for a "Green Smoothie". By my estimates, the produce would have cost me somewhere around double at the grocery store for organic produce, if I could even get it all in it's organic form.
I actually spoke to two of the teenage workers who kindly offered to carry my produce and watermelon to the car while I walked with my kids. In their words, this was their first year each and they loved it. They each said "I've learned so much."
I chatted with Chicago Botanic Garden yesterday and loved this...
@PolPrairieMama Yes, the idea is to sell fresh organic produce at an affordable price for people living in food deserts.
— ChicagoBotanicGarden (@chicagobotanic) July 25, 2012
These are blackberries getting ready to be picked in a couple of weeks.
Some grapes growing on an arbor.
The kids and I were curious as to what this flowering vine could be. Any ideas?
A better photo of the vine...
I'd love if you would vote for Chicago Botanic Garden to receive a $25,000 grant from Plante Moran.
What they plan to do with the grant funds:
Chicago Botanic Garden - To promote the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of plants and the natural world.
With a $25,000 award, the Garden can purchase a cargo van to deliver fresh, affordable or donated produce to communities in need as well as local businesses that support program growth and development.
Green Youth Farm was exactly what I had been looking for:
- Serves the community
- Organic produce
- Actually affordable (I've been wanting to join a CSA but it was always out of our budget, this works even better for us!)
- Informative and helpful staff
I hope you go and check out Green Youth Farm. This will now be on our weekly list of things to do.
Disclaimer: I was not in any way compensated for writing this post or talking about or even visiting Green Youth Farm. We went because we were curious and ended up loving it, enough to write about it.