The Talking Farm Holds Fundraiser To Support Expansion of Urban Farm
The Local Beet has long been fans, friends and supporters of Evanston’s Talking Farm. Long time Beet contributor Wendy Aeschlimann currently sits on the Board of Talking Farm. You may have heard that they have a fundraiser coming up in a few days. Well, there’s a just a few tickets left, and we want you to get them.
Since 2006, The Talking Farm, a non-profit organization based in Evanston and Skokie, has been dedicated to cultivating healthy, sustainable communities by promoting the production and appreciation of locally grown food through educational initiatives and hands-on learning programs. For years, they have operated the successful Edible Acre school garden program with Evanston Township High School. They provided technical assistance to groups looking to start community or school gardens. But their dreams were loftier — they wanted enough land that would produce a significant amount of food, as well as ease the expansion of their intensive educational initiatives. They wanted a farm. A place where people could learn, from top to bottom, how to organically grow vegetables through hands-on learning, and where the fruits of their labor — beautiful, locally-grown produce — would be distributed back to the community that grew it. A place where people could intern and learn about urban farming. Or to host community or corporate groups and teach them about the odd sense of satisfaction from a day of pulling weeds out of the ground.
In 2011, the Skokie Park District answered their call, and generously offered them 2.75 pristine acres of undeveloped parkland to use as an urban farm on Howard Street in Skokie. They called it the Howard Street Farm, and through thousands of volunteer hours, began the process of transforming wild land into neat, organized crop rows. They built a 10,000 square foot demonstration garden with raised beds that was used by community groups to grow ethnic heritage crops. The catch? It wasn’t zoned for them to sell or distribute produce grown on the farm. So, they began the long process of seeking a special zoning adjustment. And, after more than a year, in February 2014, the Village of Skokie gave them final approval to operate as a full-fledged farm.
The bad news is that fundraising was stifled by the zoning process. As a result of the zoning approvals, they now need costly infrastructure to operate as a “real” farm, such as irrigation and a processing shed to wash produce grown on the farm. So, this Sunday, they are partnering with locavore powerhouse-restaurant Farmhouse in Evanston, and are holding a fundraiser, “Celebrate the Growing Season,” which not only pays homage to the excitement of the upcoming growing season — their first — but raises badly-needed funds. $50 from each ticket will directly support The Talking Farm, and includes passed hors d’oeuvres, a generous, full buffet, dessert, and two drinks. Music will be provided by The Greenleaf Band. In other words, eat local food to support the growth of local food. A small price to pay to help this organization achieve its goals.