Loyola’s University Chicago’s Institute of Environmental Sustainability (IES) is engaged in advancing skills and knowledge in sustainable agriculture and developing local food systems through the Urban Agriculture Program.
There are three main objectives of the Urban Agriculture program:
- Educate- Provide hands on experiences and educational opportunities for Loyola students and faculty to support the IES curriculum through class projects, internships, research, and outreach.
- Provide- Harvest and distribute campus-grown food products to the Loyola Farmers Market, local restaurants, and donate to local food pantries that serve those in need.
- Engage- Provide opportunities to engage the local community through visits, tours, workshops, and demonstrations of our urban agriculture production spaces.
We manage several edible production spaces on Loyola’s Lakeshore campus including Winthrop Garden, Mertz Terrace Garden, Quinlan Rooftop Garden, and the Greenhouse Lab featuring two aquaponics systems. In 2014, we harvested 1,700 lbs of produce with the help of 14 student employees and 300 total student volunteers.
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We are exploring creative ways of producing food in an urban environment. One of the best methods to obtain both plant produce and protein using nutrient recycling is an aquaponics system. In our aquaponic systems, fish waste is converted into plant food with the use of bacteria and worms, recycling valuable nutrients in the system with minimal outside inputs.
The Ecodome is the home of two aquaponic systems. To learn more, click here.
One of our main goals is to grow food that is healthy for people and the planet. With one greenhouse and three outdoor gardens under our care, we are able to provide the community with local and responsibly grown food. Our produce is sold at Loyola’s very own Farmers’ Market and donated to local food pantries. In 2014, we donated 460 lbs of produce to serve local residents in need, equivalent to over 20% of our 2014 production.
To find out more about our gardens and food production, click here.
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
In addition to growing food for the community, we aim to educate ourselves and others on the benefits of sustainable agriculture. There are internships, volunteer opportunities, and projects available for Loyola students who are looking to get involved. We also provide group tours, and host school group visits. In the future, we aim to offer workshops for the community.
To find out how Loyola students can get involved in Urban Agriculture through Internships, volunteering, or projects, click here.