Master Urban Farmer Training Program

A program for aspiring urban farmers


In this course, students will gain the knowledge and skills to start an urban farm and expand their capacity to produce food. At the end of the program, participants will be able to write a simple business plan and have the information necessary to move forward with their urban farming goals. We recommend you already have two or more years experience growing food prior to attending this program.

Who should attend?

Entrepreneurs who want to start an intensive urban produce farm.

Community members who want to develop their food production skill set in order to increase food security and/or establish a community food system project in their neighborhood.

Master Gardeners interested in intensifying their food production skill set.

Educators who want to bring food production knowledge back to their organization.

Growers interested in more intensive training programs, but not sure if they want to commit the time or the money.

Anyone who is interested in urban farming.

What is covered?*

  • Business plan basics
  • Compost and media-based growing systems
  • Community development using urban agriculture
  • Composting
  • Cover crops
  • Designing a vision and mission
  • Emerging specialty crops
  • Farm finances for beginning farmers
  • Farm law basics
  • Food safety
  • Grants and other resources for urban farms
  • Harvest and post-harvest handling
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Introduction to urban agriculture 
  • Irrigation
  • Planning, scheduling, and recordkeeping for market gardens
  • Tools and equipment
  • Transplant production
  • Season extension and protected culture growing
  • Site selection
  • Small farm marketing
  • Urban soils
  • Weed management

*Note: all topics may not be covered in depth every session. 

How is the course structured?

Live Zoom lectures 1x per week. Attendance at and participation in these lectures is expected.

In-person demonstrations (optional) at our farm in Matteson IL 2-4 times per session.

Weekly homework assignments/quizzes are graded as complete/incomplete.

Dedication to course materials outside of class time is expected.

Who are the instructors?

Extension Educators Zack Grant and Kathryn Pereira are the primary instructors.

Regional and local topic experts will deliver guest lectures.

Local practicing urban farmers will share their real-world experiences and lessons learned following some lectures.

2022 Program

If you are interested in our next session, stay tuned here or reach out to Sarah Batka for updates.

Contact Sarah Batka for further questions.

Please sign up for our mailing list to stay updated about our urban agriculture programming and to receive our quarterly newsletter, The Urban Ag Connect.