Chicago

CPS students help open container farm to provide fresh produce in the middle of South Side food desert

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CHICAGO — Thirteen Chicago-area high school students celebrated the opening of their first container farm in the city’s Altgeld Gardens neighborhood Saturday.

The goal of the container farm is to grow produce in a temperature-controlled environment, so that the students can distribute fresh foods to families, food banks and other organizations year-round.

While working on the container farm, which is also the first of it’s kind in Chicago, students learn about science, agriculture technology, and gain invaluable business skills, all the while helping address a neighborhood challenge.

The young entrepreneurs will be responsible for operations at Bowen Harvest, overseeing crop planning, mineral and water management, lighting and temperature control and harvesting. In addition to an educational stipend they earn for their participation, students will get valuable lessons in science, technology, engineering, math and reading as well as exposure to real-world business concepts like profit and loss, marketing, food trends, partnerships and more.

“Bowen Harvest is a testament to what happens when we trust in God for our nourishment,” said Donnita Travis, president and chief executive officer for By The Hand. “He blessed us with incredible partners, each of whom helped us bring to life His vision for a hub of education, nutrition and opportunity in the Altgeld neighborhood. Through Bowen Harvest, our kids are learning life-long skills while taking care of one another and their community.”

The 500-square-foot container farm will produce more than one ton of fresh, nutrient dense produce for the community each year, filling a significant need in one of the nation’s starkest food deserts, where the nearest grocery store is more than three miles away.

Freight to Plate — the Chicago-based organization leading the hyperlocal food movement — partnered with By The Hand on planning, procurement and activation for the container farm at Bowen Harvest. Freight to Plate’s programs are designed to educate and feed hyperlocal communities, promoting food equity in under-resourced areas through sustainable agriculture technology. Their founders will provide ongoing services to ensure equipment optimization and productivity as the team of local CPS students bring nutrient-rich produce to the Altgeld Gardens neighborhood.

For more information on By The Hand, you can visit their website by clicking here.

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