Patchwork’s Annual Fundraiser

We need your help to keep the veggies coming in 2021! Due to the ongoing pandemic, Patchwork’s annual fundraiser has gone virtual. Our need is especially great this year because a key revenue source, our farm stand sales have severely declined.  We are raising funds to subsidize the costs of growing and distributing the best fresh organic produce Chicago has to offer. Our mission is to provide equal access to fresh organic produce regardless of income, especially as more community members face food insecurity due to covid-19. With your support, we can make equal access a reality and get farm fresh organic produce directly into the hands of residents who need it.
Your donations to our GoFundMe support local families accessing organic vegetables at low-to-no-cost to them, prioritizing BIPOC. Donations will also help Patchwork pay its farmers a living wage.

Sponsor one week of veggies for someone in need $80
Sponsor one month of veggies for someone in need $320
Sponsor a full season of veggies for someone in need $1680


About Our Farm:
Chicago Patchwork Farms is a sliding-scale-pay-what-you-can vegetable farm dedicated to transforming contaminated city land into biodiverse ecosystems, while increasing accessibility to healthy food in economically and environmentally distressed neighborhoods. Over 10 tons of nutrient dense and culturally significant vegetables are produced annually, as well as medicinal herbs, preserves, honey, flowers and eggs.

Additionally, the farm provides a habitat for native pollinators, outdoor gathering and compost drop-off for the surrounding community. It’s a place where city folk otherwise removed from agriculture can see organic farming practices in action and get to know the farmers who produce their food. Patchwork is a living resource that teaches people about the importance of food sovereignty and the power of regenerative agriculture.

Found Land

Friday, February 24

Today I met with Kenny, the owner of S and B Finishing, who gave us permission to farm half of his 1.5-acre parking lot.  My conversation with Kenny was very similar to the conversation I had with our landlord Sam 6 years ago.  In both conversations they were

-Chicago FarmWorks

-What he asked for – drawlings

Week 3 — Growing a lot on a little

Alright, so Molly and I aren’t good at writing these on time.  We just handed out the 4th week to the Wednesday CSA, but this is the third newsletter.  Hopefully we’ll get the 4th one out on Sunday, and we’ll be right back on schedule!

This time of year is a real crazy one on the farm–Transplant Days.  Right now we are tasked with harvesting at nearly full capacity, seeding and planting at nearly full capacity, weeding, feeding the plants, as well as transplanting nearly everything we seeded in the spring.  At least this year the watering is being taken care of for us!

One of the biggest adjustments from rural farming to urban farming is trying to get a large harvest out of a really small space.  It requires lots of intensive, successive plantings.  I feel like Molly and I really nailed our spring seeding schedule this year, and will be able to tweak it slightly to get the most spring and summer harvest possible in the next years.  In the beginning of April we seeded the section that would be the tomato, pepper, and eggplant section.  We plants these plants together because they are all in the family solanaceae and are all warm-weather fruiting plants.  The plants we seeded in April are the greens, radishes and lettuces we’ve been giving to you so far.  Now, we are tearing those up just in time to transplant all of the warm-weather fruiting plants.  The next thing we seeded in the spring were the beds that would be for the squash, cucumbers, and melons.  These plants are all in the family cucubritae.  They are all vining, fruiting plants that like warm weather.  We pre-seeded their section in three different classes of vegetable–really quickly growing (radishes, mustards, arugula); quickly growing (lettuce, spinach, bunching greens); and not so quickly growing (carrots, beets, scallions, turnips).  In one of the two beds that are full of really quickly growing things we have already seeded melons and in the other we seeded cuces and zuces.  Cucubrits require a lot of space between each plant, because they eventually sprawl extensively.  So instead of having lots of bare ground between the small, young plants, we will have harvest-able vegetables!

If we were in a rural area we would being using cover-crops instead of early greens, because organic farmers never want bare ground.  Cover crops tend to restore nutrients and give the soil a break; while growing food requires nutrients, and taxes the soil.  Because of our more intensive system, we need to compensate the soil in a few ways.  First, we don’t till or turn the ground between plantings.  Tilling and turning increases the surface area of the soil that is exposed to oxygen, and therefor speeds up the bacteria that break down the soil nutrients into ions that the plants can take up.  We like this bacteria to slowly release these nutrients over the course of our long, intensive season.  Also we try not to pull the old plants out of ground if we can.  Instead, we cut them just below the soil level so that their roots remain in the ground.  Plant roots are a living ecosystem of fungus and bacteria that symbiotically eat the plants’ excretions while also breaking down soil matter into small ions that the plants can take up through their roots.  By not disturbing or killing this ecosystem, it is all ready to support the new plants that we transplant or seed in the same spot.  Finally, we spread compost between every planting to restore the nutrients we harvested and ate.  This season we are trying to put compost directly in holes we are transplanting into.  We hope that this will give the plants the nutrients right where they need them.

I hope you all have been enjoying all the greens we’ve given you.  I really love our new spicy mix this year.  I find the flavors to be intense and interesting.  If you’re having a hard time eating all the spicy stuff, I recommend eating it in a salad with fruit and a sweetened dressing; here’s an example of a recipe:  Spicy Green Salad with Manchego and Pears

Don’t forget about our show on June 9th from 6p-10p.  There will be three great bands playing, a barbecue, and Molly and I might find ourselves in a rap battle!

See some of you Sunday, and some of you Wednesday,

Katie (and Molly)

Week #2 Farm News—Great Spring Disaster of 2013

Phew. Katie and I just finished a long, hot, and muggy work day at the farm. The sun really makes you tired, even if you take long breaks under the shade tent and drink lots of water. This is really one of the busiest times of the season because we have so much watering to do, seeds to plant, and young plants to transplant into the ground. It’s nonstop and as we check things off the list, we just add more and more things to it. As you walk onto the farm, you may have noticed trays full of plants in the rows between the beds. These are the subject of my news bulletin for the week–The Great Spring Disaster of 2013. As many of you know, Spring can be kind of a scramble for any person silly enough to try their hand at growing crops of any sort. Many things can go awry in this business, not to mention the unpredictable weather (e.g. never ending winter!) Many of you may remember back to our first year doing Patchwork when there was a hail storm at the end of June that probably lasted under a minute but managed to destroy half of the crops that we had planted in the field. Yes, we lost a lot of beautiful squash and melon plants to those golf ball sized nuggets from hell. In spite of this, we recovered and had an awesome year with lots of delicious squash and melons. Last year, you may remember being invited to a lot of “parties”  in April. These soil moving “parties” were an attempt to move an entire garden’s worth of soil onto our Chicago lot after being booted from a lot in Garfield Park. What a mess, but we did it with the help of a lot of friends. This year was no exception to the trend of Spring mishaps. In a nutshell, all of our plant starts failed. We bought our seed starting mix from a reputable Chicago company and it turned out to have a nutrient imbalance and all of our plants grew about 2 inches and then just stopped. We have a lot of diminutive tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, cabbages, and kale sitting in our hoophouse right now not doing much of anything. This was a pretty big blow for us, watching all of our carefully selected plant varieties suspended, never to grow into beautiful plants.Thankfully, this company replaced a lot of our plants that we lost and we have been able to purchase some as well. City Farm was nice enough to give us some extra onion and kale plants, too. If you haven’t been to City Farm (at Division and Clybourn) you should definitely go. It is an awesome place, very inspiring, and the people who run it are wayyyy cool. Anyhow, I just wanted to share with you some of our unfortunate history, but I also want to give you a sneak peak at some of the exciting things to come this year. We are expanding the chicken area and welcoming 20 or so new chickens to the farm. We are also starting to grow mushrooms and doing a farmers market for the first time. The Logan Square night market will be every Wednesday from 5-9 in Palmer Square. You should come by and say hi and tell your friends to come, too. Also, we are having a show/party/bbq on Sunday June 9th at the farm. There will be more details to come. That’s pretty much all for now. Please share your recipes with us as you invent them and be ready to take home a potted parsley plant next week in your csa share. If you can’t take it home for some reason we can keep it until you can figure something out. Thanks everyone for your excitement and positivity. We love growing food for you!


The First (2013)


Welcome to the spring CSA!  As most of you know already, our spring shares are generally composed of different types of greens (arugula, lettuce, mustard mix, spinach), herbs, radishes, scallions, peas, and then the beginnings of the summer treats toward the end.  This week is no different.  You received:

A choice between greens
Spring Onions
Eggs or Spinach
The Eggs you received came from the 16 hens that live on the farm.  Most of them are a breed called White Leghorn.  Leghorns are the standard commercial breed in the United States.  They are extremely efficient egg layers–they lay 25% more eggs a year than many heritage breeds, and are light eaters.  We didn’t choose this breed, we received them for free from a 5th grade science class that had hatched eggs as part of a lesson.  We were happy to get free chickens, but were worried that they wouldn’t be a good fit for our farm because of their reputation as a factory breed.  At first they did give us some trouble–they used to love to fly over the fence, and sleep in trees–both habits put them in higher danger of predation and being annoying.  We worried that all of their survival sense had been bred out of them.  As winter set in, though, they joined the others in the coop, and more than just surviving, they continued to lay eggs all winter long.  The experience reinforced my opinions about the amazingness of chickens–they turn all of our kitchen scraps and weeds into delicious breakfast, and they can survive a Chicago winter without any supplemental energy!
You may not have noticed, but we don’t have electricity at the farm, so the chicken coops are heated and cooled passively.  The tall coop has three inch thick insulated walls that help keep in the birds heat during the winter, and the heat out in the summer.  Both coops have lots of windows, and we put them under a large deciduous tree so that the Sun would shine on them in the winter, but they would be shaded in the summer.  The tall coop is also draft free except from bellow.  Because much of the gas given off by the chicken poop and bedding is heavier than air, it settles low in the coop and can be drafted out the bottom, while the heat the chickens generate will rise to the top where the chickens roost to sleep.  Also because we don’t have electricity at the farm, we have been brooding the next flock of chickens at my house where we can warm them with a lamp an a space heater if needed.  This is a flock of 25 chickens of many different heritage breeds.  The new chickens were born in early March and have recently gotten big enough to start to live outside (if the forecast cooperates).  We’re going to start expanding the chicken area at the farm to accommodate them this week, and will move them in as soon as the forecast seems warm enough.  We’re hoping that they will start to lay eggs in August, so that we can expand the egg CSA by September.  If you are interested in being added to the egg CSA, let us know and we’ll put you on the waiting list.
Okay, so Katie is writing this email, and Katie rarely uses recipes, BUT I found this recipe online that you all might want to try this week.  It will use the radishes, the onions, and possibly even the eggs!
If you try it, let me know how it goes.
See you next week
Katie and Molly

Oh, the Internets

We are not very good at this “blogging” thing over here at Patchwork Farms.  But here’s a brief wazup:

1. Seeds ordered and started!

2. 40 baby chickens brooding in my basement.  They’re moving to the garage tomorrow.

3.  CSA is full for this year, but you can email us if you want to be added to the waiting list.  Put “CSA Waiting List” in the subject please.

4.  Market stand and volunteer days will start on May 8.  They will be every Sunday and Wednesday from Noon – 5.

5.  We applied to a farmer’s market… we’ll try to internet about it if we get in.

6.  We, also, wish it was warmer.

June 20th: We’re throwing a party!

Our friend Al Scorch and we are throwing a square dance party on Wednesday, June 20th.

The evening will start at 5p with three live bands:

The Kodiak Farm Boys

Al Scorch

The Tillers

After that, we’ll move on to dance calling by T-Claw from Nashville, TN:

Beginners workshop at 7:00pm and dancing shortly thereafter, until around 10:00pm or when demand or energy is expended.

All dances will be taught. Everyone will have fun. No one is required to dance, but everyone is encouraged to try it out. No experience necessary.

There will also be beers from New Belgium Brewing Co.

It (like us) is on facebook —

Plants For Sale!

We have plants for sale, come check em out!



Tomatoes (many varieties)

Kale (4 varieties!)


Eggplant (small fruiting varieties)

Ground Cherries (very delicious fruit, you should give ’em a try)


We’re open Wednesdays and Sundays from 2-7 or by appointment.

The Great Migration

of soil is coming to an end this weekend. We are just a few beds away from having all of our soil moved to the garden on Chicago Avenue. It has been a lot of fun, but it will be such a relief to be done and be able to focus on growing vegetables again. Thanks to Christy Webber Landscape, we have been able to use an amazing dump truck with a lift gate for the past 2 weekends, which has made everything much easier. It also has a nice, loud stereo so we’ve been able to shovel along to all of the hits. Katie and I both agreed that we are going to miss working in Garfield Park. The neighbors have been really supportive and people are always stopping by to chat which made us feel at home there. I felt like that garden turned an empty lot into something beautiful, and now it’s going to be just another empty lot again. If the owners sell or develop it, I hope it becomes something useful and beautiful for the community.  Luckily, the landowner of the space on Chicago has been really supportive of our expansion and our future plans for the site. After this weekend, we can really focus on all of the neat projects we’ve been starting. We’ve just been lucky enough to have a bunch of fresh cut logs delivered to us from a local tree service which will become part of our mushroom garden. We have a nice shady spot in the southeast corner that will be the future home of these delicious fungi. Meanwhile we have been busy planting our onion starts, starting seeds in the hoophouse, and getting ready for our first CSA on May 2nd. We are just now realizing how ambitious this date is, considering the last frost date is right around this time. We’ve been super busy covering and uncovering the plants, trying to keep them safe through the cold Spring nights. Running a farm is about careful planning, but also knowing when to experiment and when to take risks. Sometimes these things pay off and sometimes they fail. And sometimes it hails. For every unfortunate event we’ve had, there’s always been something positive that comes along soon after. Thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way.


Dirt Moving Party!

This weekend we had a great time (at least I thought it was) moving 1/4 of the dirt from our St Louis Ave garden to our Chicago Ave garden!   With the amazing help from the landowner of the Chicago Ave garden, Sam, and his friend Stuart we were able to nearly continuously fill and haul dirt using a large dump trailer and large dump truck all day Saturday.  We had help from soooo many awesome friends, and did all the work using only shovels, wheel barrows and ramps.  We also had pie, crackers, cheese, a puppy, chips, a dirt jump, and a pretty good time on a nice day.

It rained Sunday morning so since the dirt was too wet to move, a group of us got together and readied rest of the garden to be moved.  We picked all the plants out, moved all the bricks to the side, and found the edges of the fabric the garden is built on top of.   That work will make the next dirt moving party run even smoother.

We’re hoping that we have only 3 more days of dirt moving ahead of us.  Then we probably have a full week of bed building at the Chicago Ave garden.

Check our facebook page for more info on our next dirt moving parties:!/profile.php?id=100002370638919

Also, if anyone took any pictures that day, please send them to us.  Thanks to Kim for these: