“One of the first things we learned during the Master Urban Farmer Training Program (MUFTP) was you can’t do everything,” explains Mary Harkenrider, urban farmer, Illinois Extension Master Gardener, and 2019 MUFTP graduate. “We’ve taken that lesson to heart. You have to define what you are there for because you’re pulled in all these different directions.
Approaching the hives along the Metra tracks on Chicago’s south side the smell of grass smoke intensifies as Oscar Villa, beekeeper and owner of Bee-utiful Honey, waves his smoker. “Don’t worry. Come closer. Young bees tend not to sting, and they are the ones busy working in the hive,” declares Villa. “Most of the older bees are out gathering pollen at this time of day.
“I blame this on my Granny Flo,” Kevin Lindley, urban farmer and executive director Green Pastures Eco Community Farm, shakes his head and declares while standing in a high tunnel located on his 5-acre non-profit farm in Chicago’s south suburbs. “When I was growing up, she took me to U-pick farms in northern Indiana and southern Michigan. We would pick beans, corn, strawberries, and apples and bring them home to preserve and share with the family. I don’t know why she chose me, but I was the only grandchild who ever went with her.