Inner City Farming Project Set
To Raise Bees, Ducks and Goats

Chicago's public housing may soon be home to more than people and pets. In an innovative "urban farming" project, residents are planning basement earthworm farms, indoor catfish tanks, rooftop beekeeping and pens for rabbits, ducks, geese and goats.

The aspiring inner-city farmers are receiving training from Heifer Project International, a 53-year-old anti-hunger group that traditionally donates livestock to help rural families in 110 countries produce their own food and income. The Chicago project is the group's first urban initiative.

Alison Meares, HPI's Chicago field representative, says, "Lots of groups do urban gardening, but we would be the first in the U.S. to introduce animals." She points to many successful models of urban agriculture, including 800 city farms in Europe.

Residents of the Robert Taylor Home are building a basement earthworm farm, learning how to harvest the castings for use as organic fertilizer and how to market them for sale.

Children in the Cabrini Green Youth Gardening Project will be raising dairy goats. "Protein is something that's often missing in the diets of people whom we serve," says Meares. "We've been doing some training in the care of goats and in making goat cheese to eat or sell to restaurants."

In mid-August, HPI took 20 people from Chicago to visit the group's ranch in Perryville, Ark. There they were given instruction in intensive training in husbandry, including rooftop apiaries and indoor aquaculture -- catfish farming, apartment-style.

Posted August 26, 1997
Copyright ©1997 American News Service

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