WBEZ | urban farming http://www.wbez.org/tags/urban-farming Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Soil moisture back to normal, now rain hampering Illinois farmers http://www.wbez.org/news/soil-moisture-back-normal-now-rain-hampering-illinois-farmers-106697 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Moisture_130417_LW.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s sprouting time across the state and farmers are breathing a sigh of relief as soil moisture in Illinois returns to normal after a year of uncertainty. Spring of 2012 was marked by arid, warm weather that led into one of the hottest summers on record and a drought that continued through the winter. Illinois farmers&rsquo; concerns about planting conditions for the spring planting season have scarcely subsided, but the forecast is better than it has been for a long time.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now, we are pretty much seeing normal levels across the state, which is a lot better than what we were seeing at this time last year,&rdquo; said Jennie Atkins of the Illinois State Water Survey, which monitors soil moisture daily. Above-average precipitation in January and February made up for a middling fall, and stormy weather this week can&rsquo;t hurt moisture, either.</p><p>&ldquo;After last year, soil moisture is a very precious commodity in the state,&rdquo; said John Hawkins of the Illinois Farm Bureau.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s also a downside to the influx of rain. There were flood warnings and severe storms in parts of Illinois Tuesday, and now many farmers have to wait for warmer, drier weather to plant.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have a lot of rain and flood it definitely affects the larger crop productions,&rdquo; said Toni Anderson, the organizer of Sacred Keepers Sustainability Garden in Chicago&rsquo;s Bronzeville neighborhood. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t necessarily have to worry about that in the city because we need every drop we can get.&rdquo;</p><p>She says the sandy soil on Martin Luther King Avenue on Chicago&rsquo;s south side drains easily, and the garden&rsquo;s focus on native species means they can tolerate weather extremes. But given concerns about climate change, she&rsquo;s not necessarily jumping for joy about yet another swing of the weather pendulum.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s refreshing and scary all at the same time,&rdquo; Anderson said.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 17 Apr 2013 15:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/soil-moisture-back-normal-now-rain-hampering-illinois-farmers-106697 Goat and chicken lovers get together http://www.wbez.org/news/goat-and-chicken-lovers-get-together-105557 <p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" mozallowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/59748968" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="500"></iframe></p><p>From the street, Carolyn Ioder&rsquo;s house on the western side of the Austin neighborhood looks pretty normal. It&rsquo;s a large off-white stucco with an American flag hanging out front and a big trampoline crammed into a fenced-in backyard.</p><p>It&rsquo;s the sounds from the garage that give it away. Inside her two-car garage, Ioder keeps one car, six goats and a small coop full of chickens. The animals live here year-round, and Ioder takes the goats to pasture daily in a vacant lot down the street. She has the owner&rsquo;s permission, and she gets water for the goats from the Chicago fire station at the end of the alley.</p><p>&ldquo;Goats are such flock animals, they like to be with each other but they&rsquo;re also extremely bossy,&rdquo; said Ioder, wrangling the goats onto leashes for their daily walk to pasture.</p><p>The occasion of this visit is the first-ever Chicago Urban Livestock Expo, to take place this Saturday at the Garfield Park Conservatory. The event, sponsored by a small coalition of urban agriculture enthusiasts, features workshops on raising bees, rabbits, chickens and goats within city (or suburban) limits.</p><p>Officially, Ioder&rsquo;s goats aren&rsquo;t livestock. They&rsquo;re pets. But Ioder does keep them as a food source.</p><p>&ldquo;In my house all the pets work,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The cats take care of the mice, the dogs scares the people that aren&rsquo;t supposed to be around, and the chickens lay eggs and the goats give milk.&rdquo;</p><p>In the summertime, the goats can yield up to two gallons of milk a day, which is a lot for a single family to deal with. Ioder&rsquo;s only had them for a couple years, so she&rsquo;s struggling to get up to speed on goat cheese production. She started with just two goats, they had twins and twins again, and now she&rsquo;s dealing with a small herd. So she may also have to <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/19540560/wanted-1-goat-herder-30-goats-at-ohare-intl-airport" target="_blank">sell some off</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;Not because I want to make a profit,&rdquo; she clarified. Feeding six goats every day is a big task, and her actual yard is a scarce patch of grass.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7026_018-scr.JPG" style="height: 174px; width: 310px; float: right;" title="The garage where it all happens. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p><strong>That&rsquo;s actually allowed?</strong></p><p>There are no regulations specific to goats in Chicago, except that you&rsquo;re not allowed to slaughter them. Same goes for chickens, a more popular pet that&rsquo;s already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/owning-chickens-scratches-controversy-95624" target="_blank">banned in some Chicago suburbs</a>.</p><p>But urban agriculture experts say no one should get into city goat or chicken farming without getting educated. The backyard pen or coop can be clean and contained, but it takes some work. And they recommend checking in with the neighbors before you welcome in a new flock or herd.</p><p>&ldquo;I have met a couple people who&rsquo;ve complained about it,&rdquo; said <a href="http://urbanchickenconsultant.wordpress.com/chicken-faqs/" target="_blank">urban chicken consultant</a> Jennie Murtoff. &ldquo;I talked to a woman [...] who was adamantly opposed to chickens. She said they were noisy and they were smelly, and she was very unhappy about her neighbor having chickens. And then she told me she was a pit bull rescuer.&rdquo;</p><p>But she says if they&rsquo;re managed right, chickens should be less of a nuisance than some dogs.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re relatively quiet. If the owners keep the pens well, which doesn&rsquo;t take a whole lot of work, there won&rsquo;t be any smell. A lot of people don&rsquo;t even realize that the chickens are in the backyard,&rdquo; Murtoff said.</p><p>Plus, good housekeeping is the key to keeping the city from cracking down, which is part of what the Expo aims to educate people about. An unregulated urban farming landscape is ideal for these passionate local foodies, and they want to have a real conversation about what that takes.</p><p>&ldquo;If people are looking for a day out with the kids at a petting zoo, this probably isn&rsquo;t the place for them,&rdquo; Murtoff said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s an event for people who are seriously interested in the urban agriculture movement.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Local food systems, cute pets</strong></p><p>Murtoff stressed that getting eggs or milk from your own backyard isn&rsquo;t just a novelty. To her it&rsquo;s about having a hyperlocal source of good food, knowing where your food comes from, and maybe even saving some money.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7021_021-scr.JPG" style="height: 337px; width: 710px;" title="Carolyn Ioder's goats wonder whether microphones are edible. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" />&ldquo;Too often we think that, oh, eggs come from the supermarket,&rdquo; Murtoff said. &ldquo;And they don&rsquo;t. They come from a bird.&rdquo;</p><p>And a cool bird, too.</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re just wonderful little people inside those feathered bodies,&rdquo; she added.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re working for is local community development of food systems,&rdquo; Ioder said.</p><p>By day, she runs a bread company and stays active in various groups working on issues of food security. And she&rsquo;s not the only goat farmer in town - a scattered number of Chicago and suburban residents keep pygmy goats, which are small enough to pass as terriers but still give milk. Chicken farmers in the Chicago area probably number in the hundreds.<br /><br />Ioder doesn&rsquo;t see her work as real farming, but she said it helps keep her connected to her roots.</p><p>&ldquo;We were the first generation, my husband and I, to be born off the farm,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>And she ran out to catch a goat who was wandering towards the CTA tracks on Lake street.</p><p>The first <a href="https://sites.google.com/site/chicagochickenenthusi/events/urban-livestock-expo" target="_blank">Chicago Urban Livestock Expo</a> takes place Saturday, February 16 from 10am to 1pm at the Garfield Park Conservatory.</p><p>Follow <a href="https://twitter.com/LewisPants" target="_blank">Lewis Wallace on Twitter</a>.</p></p> Fri, 15 Feb 2013 10:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/goat-and-chicken-lovers-get-together-105557 At the Plant, entrepreneurs turn waste into jobs http://www.wbez.org/content/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-04/DSC_0088.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/31628140?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" webkitallowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="336" scrolling="no" width="600"></iframe></p><p>The old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” may be a tired cliché, but the operators of small business incubator on Chicago’s Southwest Side hope this mantra will help them turn spent grain into money and fish waste into jobs.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/greatlakesjobs"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACTIVE GRAPH:</span></strong> <strong>Are the Great Lakes a great source for Jobs?</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong>Are you a job creator? Tell us about it.</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Tucked away on a dead-end corner of 46<sup>th</sup> Street, <a href="http://www.plantchicago.com/">the Plant</a> is a collection of food-related small businesses working together in a kind of entrepreneurial ecosystem whereby the waste from one company – spent grain from the brewery, for example – becomes literal fuel – charcoal briquettes – for the bakery upstairs.</p><p>Plant founder John Edel, who colleagues describe as a “benevolent mad scientist,” says that by "following the waste" and finding the inefficiencies inherent in any manufacturing process, he and his team can create jobs and rebuild the economy of a neighborhood that was once home to the Union Stockyards and countless related jobs. The Plant received a $1.5 million grant from the state to help create 125 jobs in its 93,000 sq. ft. facility, which they hope will put a dent in replacing the estimated 400 jobs lost when Peer Food Products shut down their meat processing operations at the site in 2006.</p><p><em>Front &amp; Center</em> visited the Plant in October to see how Edel and his team are trying to pioneer a new model of business ecology and job creation. You can see what they’re up to in the video above.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 00:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-0