Farmers for Chicago: Farmer Incubation Program

UGC’s farmer training program is a hybrid business-training course that allows participants to learn the hands on fundamentals of farming, while simultaneously developing their business plan. The course will be a series of daylong, weekend seminars with benchmarks completed between sessions by participants. The format of the program supports both new program participants and ongoing development. Participation in all workshops is mandatory.

Our Goal: “To provide new and emerging farmers and ranchers with hands-on training in intensive urban agriculture production, post-harvest handling and wholesale volume, business and marketing planning, and long-term mentoring support to improve and develop farm operation viability, and as a foundation in promoting food security in food desert communities.”

The Farmers for Chicago Program provides an opportunity for active participation and learning to support the training and development of new farmers, regardless of skill level. Each session has a strong hands-on training and classroom session to support development goals, and to make each vision a workable business plan, to eventually make a new urban farm a reality. Please come prepared for field work with weather appropriate attire.

This practical adult education-training program is designed to assure that participants have the tools to begin their urban farming project when the training concludes. One-on-one advising is part of the program, both as participants work between sessions to develop your farming plan and at the conclusion of the formal program. This program is designed for those individuals who are serious and ready to contribute to the food system in their communities as members of the farming profession, and is designed to provide support and coaching to complete a viable plan. Our expectation is that participants complete their work between sessions and come prepared.

Structure

Each session will focus on a seasonal skill set and will provide opportunities for trainees to learn how to farm. This will be complemented by classroom learning and discussion to prepare participants to complete a realistic plan. Each session will include site visits and opportunities to connect with urban farmers, buyers, restaurateurs, funders and investors.

First year participants will be selected after presenting a project plan on a contingency basis. Attendance at all workshops, upkeep of farm plot, and participation will determine expansion of farm space after year-one.

Cost of Training: 

  • $500.00 and 100 hours of farm support work share, OR
  • $1700 total program cost without work share option

Click here for a 2019 FFC UGC Description & Application

*Space is limited. Applications will be reviewed and accepted in the order they are received.


Workshop Schedule:

Session 1: Project Visioning & Crop Planning
Saturday, February 2nd, 10:00am–4:00pm 
Location: Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W 35th Street Unit 3160, Chicago IL, 60609

Session 2: Marketing, Financials and Financing your Farm
Saturday, February 9th, 10:00am–4:00pm 
Location: Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W 35th Street Unit 3160, Chicago IL, 60609

Session 3: Greenhouse Production: Seeding & Transplanting
Saturday, February 16th, 1:00-4:00pm
Location: South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Session 4: Dismantling Racism in the Food System – Intensive Leadership Facilitator Training
Thursday, February 28th: Peace Circle Facilitation Pre-Training, 10:00am-4:00pm
Friday, March 1 – Saturday, March 2nd: ILFT Training, 10:00am-4:00pm (Friday & Saturday)
Location: Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W 35th Street Unit 3160, Chicago IL, 60609

Session 5: Mushroom Production & Medicinal and Culinary Herb Garden Planning
Saturday, April 27th, 10:00am–4:00pm 
Location: South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Session 6: Beekeeping 101 – Hive Setup and Installation / Compost and Vermicompost 101
Saturday, May 4th, Beekeeping 10:00am–12:00pm; Compost & Vermicompost 1:00-4:00pm 
Location: South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Session 7: Medicinal Herb Care & Urban Orchard Management
Saturday, June 8th, 1:00pm-4:00pm  
Location: South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Session 8: Beekeeping 101 – Hive Maintenance 
Saturday, July 8th, 10:00am–12:00pm
Location: South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Session 9: Medicinal Herb Harvesting & Use
Saturday, August 17th, 1:00pm-4:00pm  
Location: South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Session 10: Beekeeping 101 – Hive Winterization & Honey Harvest
Saturday, September 28th, Beekeeping 11:00am–1:00pm
Location: South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Workshop Descriptions

Session 1: The Vision, Seeding Your Future in the Community
Saturday, February 2, 2019, 10:00am-4:00pm
Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th Street (enter at Racine entrance – Dial UGC)
Big vision mapping session; mission & vision statements; defining core values, both personal and commercial; and community engagement. Crop planning will be the focus for farming oriented projects. Participants will develop a comprehensive vision of their commercial agriculture endeavor. It is important that participants clearly define the various program elements and economic aspects of their project. Once the big picture is developed, participants will create a project outline that will serve as the blueprint for the business plan to be developed over the year. The process is creative and provides a step-by-step approach to guide the development of a full project plan.

Session 2: Marketing, Financials and Financing your Farm Project
Saturday, February 9, 2019, 10:00am-4:00pm
Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th Street (enter at Racine entrance – Dial UGC)
We will begin the day discussing financial planning, budgets and spreadsheets, grant writing and financing your project, and small group budget development. Next, we will create a comprehensive operating budget, profit and loss format and begin to develop a financing or grant writing for the business plan. UGC will provide bookkeeping and accounting basics presentation and provide templates for developing the budget. This information will provide a springboard to begin strategizing how products and services will be sold to generate revenue for the enterprise. Planning value-added products, workshops, and sales to restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture, and farmers’ markets will all be explored through small group discussion and a questions and answers session.

Session 3: Greenhouse Production: Seeding & Transplanting
Saturday, February 16, 2019, 1:00pm-4:00pm
South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL 60617
Participants receive hands-on training to learn how to mix soil, seed, harvest, wash and package a variety of crops. Participants engage in-group discussion focused on year-round greenhouse production and marketing strategies to effectively sell products within marketplaces that suit their goals and resources.

Session 4: Dismantling Racism in the Food System – Intensive Leadership Training
Thursday, February 28th – Saturday, March 2, 10:00am-4:00pm (all days)
Bridgeport Art Center, 1200 W. 35th Street (enter at Racine entrance – Dial UGC)
An understanding to dismantling racism principles is critical to the success of any urban agriculture project. This three-day workshop will introduce a framework to better understand how racism and privilege manifests on an individual, cultural and institutional level, as well as provide space to reflect upon ways to create projects that empower low-income and communities of color through sustainable, local agriculture.

We will be discussing recent challenges and opportunities in the food movement world both from a local, in your community, perspective and from the national and international food sovereignty arena. Designed to build a community of leaders who are enabled to take action and provide intensive training and dialogue that facilitates anti-racism, with the hope that leaders take food justice actions in our own programs and neighborhoods

Session 5: Mushroom Production & Medicinal and Culinary Herb Garden Planning
Saturday, April 27, 2019, 10:00am-4:00pm
South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL 60617
This workshop will begin with visioning your healing garden. Growing herbs to expand culinary flavors, create healing tinctures and to add vitality to your reflective practices. One of the long term goals is to build a Urban Medicinal Plant network that shares knowledge and plants for healing work in the community.
In the afternoon, participants learn how to raise oyster, wine cap, and shitake mushrooms that are profitable and inexpensive to maintain. Fungi doesn’t take up “mushroom” in your garden and can be a fun and tasty addition to your edible landscape.

Session 6: Beekeeping 101: Hive Setup & Installation // Composting 101
Saturday, May 4, 2019, Beekeeping – 10:00am-12:00p, Compost 1:00pm-4:00pm
South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL 60617
Beekeeping workshops are held at our beautiful South Chicago Farm and Apiary.  The workshop is geared for beginning beekeepers who are interested in purchasing or currently own bee hives.  The first course introduces participants to honey bee biology and behavior, hive parts and tools, record keeping, as well as hive installation and set-up. The instruction for the course includes both a classroom-style presentation as well as hands-on work in the apiary.  Participants should wear light-colored pants and a long-sleeved shirt, socks and closed-toed shoes.  Protective gear will be provided while in the hives.  The workshop will be rescheduled in case of rain.
In the afternoon, participants will learn how to develop a comprehensive and sustainable growing system that can grow food with a consistent and affordable supply of fertility. We will show participants how to manage a small-scale compost system. Participants will discuss collection of waste streams in the city or on the farm. We will also teach the basics of Vermicomposting and will construct and explain how to maintain a worm bin.  The on farm use of vermicomposting as a fertilizer will be a focus and how to use it for generating cash from those who want an excellent, organic fertilizer or compost teas. After learning the fundamentals, we will focus on building beds, direct seeding and transplanting techniques.

Session 7: Medicinal Herb Care & Urban Orchard Management
Saturday, June 8, 2019, 1:00-4:00pm
South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL 60617
Learn along with us as we plant, maintain and grow our orchard. Fruit trees require special care to be productive and healthy. We will learn from expert arborists all the tricks of the trade. After working in the orchard, we will visit the medicinal herb garden to provide routine care.

Session 8: Beekeeping 101 – Hive Maintenance
Saturday, July 8, 2019, 10:00am-12:00pm
South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL 60617
The hive maintenance workshop will build upon the components of the first workshop, although it is not mandatory to have participated in the first workshop.  After a brief review of bee biology and behavior, we will spend the bulk of the workshop in the hive inspecting bee brood, honey flow, bee “work”, as well as pests and diseases in the hive. Come prepared to work and prepare the hives for full swing summer honey production. Participants should wear light-colored pants and a long-sleeved shirt, socks and closed-toed shoes. Protective gear will be provided while in the hives. The workshop will be rescheduled in case of rain.

Session 9: Medicinal Herb Harvest & Use
Saturday, August 17, 2019, 1:00-4:00pm
South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL 60617
We will demonstrate how to harvest herbs for their various properties and prepare them for use. Participants will tour the herb beds and learn about the various medicinal and culinary properties of the plants. This is a hands on, learning share workshop and a follow up to the spring Herb planning workshop.

Session 10: Beekeeping 101 – Hive Winterization & Honey Harvest
Saturday, September 28th, 2019
South Chicago Farm, 9000 S Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL 60617
Participants will inspect the hives for diseases, pests and honey flow. After inspection and clean-up, we will prepare the hives for winter. Learn the ins and outs of taking care of your bees over the winter months to help maintain a healthy hive all year-long. After the hives are prepared, participants will learn how to extract and process honey. Participants should wear light-colored pants and a long-sleeved shirt, socks and closed-toed shoes. Protective gear will be provided while in the hives. The workshop will be rescheduled in case of rain.

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