The Green Youth Farm, a project of the Chicago Botanic Garden, offers students the opportunity to learn all aspects of organic farming — from planting seeds and starts to managing a hive of bees, from cooking with the food they grow to selling it at farmstands and markets (and to the Garden Café, where the chef incorporates the fresh organic produce into many menu items available to Chicago Botanic Garden visitors).
Students are paid a stipend for four hours per week in the spring and fall and 20 hours per week in the summer working at the farms, but the benefits they gain far outweigh the wages they earn. By the end of the season, participants have learned how to work together as a team, gained valuable job skills, discovered a whole new way to look at the food they eat, and grown their support system to include supervisors, program coordinators, legislators, and their fellow participants.
The one-acre farm in suburban North Chicago is located in the Greenbelt Forest Preserve off Green Bay Road. The quarter-acre site is in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, at 3555 West Ogden Avenue. An additional farm was added in 2009 — the Washington Park Farm at Dyett High School at 555 E. 51st Street added an additional three-quarters of an acre of growing space to the farms.
Finally, Chicago Public Schools has hosted one more Jr. Green Youth Farm since 2006, currently located at Helen J. McCorkle School at 4421 S. State Street. This Jr. Green Youth Farm serves 10 to 12 middle-school students after school and for a six-week program during the summer.