UIC farm in the city

Uploaded by uicmedia on 14.11.2011

[Narrator] UIC's Jane Addams Hull-House Museum runs an urban farm to foster a healthy bio-culture,
just as the museum promotes a healthy social culture. The farm just harvested fifteen hundred
pounds of German garlic, Chinese napa cabbage, and other heirloom vegetables.
[Ryan Beck, Hull-House Museum’s urban farmer] Heirloom is, has kind of a loose cultural
connotation so it could be a plant or a fish or of course it could be a hat from grandpa
or a necklace from grandma, something that’s been passed down for generations,
be it fifty years or thousands of years.
[Narrator] But organic farmer Ryan Beck is still raising crops this fall.
[Beck] This is a passive solar greenhouse, know as a hoop house or a high tunnel,
it helps extend the growing season here in the four-season climate we live in in Chicago,
by about six weeks on either end of the summer.
[Narrator] After three years of growth, the farm now supplies the soup for the museum's
lunchtime lecture series, called "Re-Thinking Soup."
[Beck] So that was fall of 2008, you know, we didn’t have time to really grow much
that season, but it was the perfect time to start a garden because we could, you know,
we could develop a lot of the infrastructure and get all the things in place for
the following spring 2009.
[Narrator] It's required a long collaboration among humans, plants and bugs.
[Beck] These were in full bloom, you know, in August and September. A few, last of the
prairie flowers, these are the things again that attract the beneficials -- the butterflies,
the dragonflies, the praying mantises, the, uh, the honeybees.
[Narrator] But Ryan has help from volunteers, including some from the Veterans Administration.
They built him a scarecrow. A bee colony helps, too.
[Beck] And they’re pretty quiet on a day like this, but, uh, they’ll still be harvesting
for a few more weeks to survive the winter. They’re really packed in there. I don’t
know if you can see, like, that third comb in, but their comb's caked with them.
[Narrator] The next heirloom crop may be perch.
[Beck] This tub and gravel bed medium is known as an aquaculture system. And so the idea
is that you’re growing fish in this tank here, and that their waste, every fifteen
minutes or so, is pumped up with the water into the gravel medium and fertilizing the
roots of the plants growing in that bed. And in the meantime, that gravel and those plant
roots are cleaning the water out.
[Narrator] It's all part of the museum's commitment to local culture.
Anne Ranallo, UIC News.