Urban Farm Center

This interview details Urban Farm Center, a company based in the United States. The interview is with Eliza Fournier, Director at Urban Farm Center.

Source: Urban Farm Center

What is the origin story of Urban Farm Center?

The Urban Farm Center was conceived of by a group of food systems stakeholders in Lake County, Illinois who were inspired by the work being done by the Chicago Botanic Garden at the Farm on Ogden on the west side of Chicago.

Once inspired, the group was unclear on what Lake County organization/institution had the capacity and interest in seeing this vision to reality and approached College of Lake County. The concept of a “Community Food Hub” that promotes high quality and wholesome food, health and wellness, and workforce training and education, and sustainability aligned with College of Lake County’s purpose, and strategic priorities. With support from a generous “seed” donor, CLC was able to launch the Urban Farm Center project as part of the College’s Lakeshore campus revitalization in downtown Waukegan. The College leadership and board of trustees integrated this community and workforce-focused project into the CLC Master Plan at that time. 

Source: Urban Farm Center

What are some of the goals of the Urban Farm Center? 

The Urban Farm Center seeks to grow high-quality, affordable local produce year-round in a controlled environment at CLC’s Lakeshore Campus in downtown Waukegan. The Urban Farm Center will 1) increase access to locally-grown produce at an on-site retail location; 2) promote and make possible healthy lifestyle choices in a community whose average life expectancy is 10 years less than neighboring towns; and 3) train and educate local food system workers and entrepreneurs to ensure local food systems are resilient and adaptive to withstand future supply chain disruptions.

Source: Urban Farm Center

What will be the current size of your growing area? 

The Urban Farm Center will include three growing areas:

  • 2200 square foot greenhouse for tall crops like tomatoes and cucumbers;
  • 3300 square feet of vertical farming spaces for herbs and lettuce greens;
  • 400 square foot fungiculture laboratory

Source: Urban Farm Center

What are your thoughts in CO2 usage in indoor farms? 

Carbon supplementation is an important consideration when designing and maximizing growing systems. The CO2 supplementation strategies for this project are still being considered, as we strive for balance in the demonstration/education/production goals of the Center.

Source: Urban Farm Center

Energy is a big topic in indoor farming right now. Will your farm draw energy from the grid or renewables?

CLC is ranked as one of the nation’s top 10 greenest community colleges. Among many other sustainability initiatives, including solar and geothermal, CLC’s Science building on its Grayslake Campus received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Additionally, the new Student Center at the Lakeshore Campus (located directly south of the future Urban Farm Center) is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. The College is currently seeking funding to support a portion of the Urban Farm Center’s energy needs with renewable energy.

Source: Urban Farm Center

How can people connect with you or learn more about Urban Farm Center?

Eliza Fournier the Urban Farm Center Director and can be reached at efournier@clcillinois.edu. For additional information, visit our website at: www.clcillinois.edu/urbanfarm

Source: Urban Farm Center

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