Date and Time

March 14th and 15th, 2015

We will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday the 14th, and end around 1 p.m. on Sunday the 15th.


We are super excited that this year’s summit will be held at The Plant (<— learn about their cool projects on their website), one of Chicago’s most ambitious and inspiring urban farming projects. Tours of the building will be offered during the summit.


We are asking for a donation of $10-30 per person, but no one will be turned away. This money will cover basic expenses, including meals and our use of the space.  Your admission donation will also get you a free tour of The Plant (a $10 value), plus free admission to the party on Saturday night (a $10 value).

Housing and Travel

If you’re coming from out of town and need a place to stay or a ride to the summit send us an email, or simply fill out the RSVP form.


Saturday, March 14

Registration, meet and greet, breakfast snacks
Welcome Presentation in the main room by John Edel of The Plant and Katie Williams from Chicago Patchwork Farms and the MWUF Summit team.
Presentation Session I
  1. Growing in the Cold: Season Extension Practices and Materials for Urban Farms - Ben Jaffe, Chicago Lights Urban Farm, Chicago, IL.
    Learn how to extend your harvest on an urban farm regardless of who your market is.  Hear about specific crop examples, general techniques, structures and other materials that will enhance year-round production.
  2. Bridging the Urban/Rural Divide: Urban Cooperatives and Collaborations - Robin Major, Stone’s Throw Urban Farm and Shared Ground Farmers’ Cooperative, Twin Cities, MN; Alex Poltorak, Urban Canopy, Chicago, IL.
    The presenters will focus on the advantages and challenges of marketing and working collaboratively among many farms and urban farm groups.
  3. Getting Abel to work for Cain - Mark Brown, Gateway Garlic Urban Farms, St. Louis, MO;  Sia Xeros, The Salty Prawn, Chicago, IL.
    Micro multi-species mob grazing  and it’s primal permacultural benefits to the health of the land and your back.
    How using multiple species to help you efficiently cultivate postage stamp farms can be achieved and why it’s better to go primordial.
  4. High-Production Rooftop Farming – Darius Jones, McCormick Place Rooftop Farm, Chicago, IL; Bill Shores, Urban Edible, Chicago, IL; Mary Ostafi, Urban Harvest STL, St. Louis, MO.; Moderator: Angela Mason, Windy City Harvest, Chicago, IL
    These successful rooftop farmers will discuss how they established their soil, maneuvered within micro climates, and developed infrastructure in order to feed their many high-end clients.  They will discuss what systems, varieties, and techniques have worked best in their two very different and very ambitious situations.
Snackin’, Stretchin’, and Relaxin’
Presentation Session II
  1. Is Bigger Better? - Dan Hurowitz (Gary Comer Youth Farm, Chicago, IL) and Alex Liebman (Stone’s Throw Urban Farm, Twin Cities, MN)
    These farmers will discuss strategies for maximizing the amount of food produced in small, urban spaces while focusing on whole farm planning, marketing, tools, and other basics of successful urban food production.
  2. Urban Farm Incubators - Incubators allow for ideas to nurture and grow into successful ventures, with the help of mentors who guide you. We will explore the Urban Farming landscape and see how Incubators can fit into our overall Urban Ag ecosystem. Our panelists have experience in developing support services through incubators and will provide exceptional insight in how they work, who should use them, and how to develop shared local support for a range of Urban Food solutions.
    Mark Brown, Gateway Garlic Urban Farms, St. Louis, MO
    Dirt Doll, Chicago, IL
    Tom Ancona, Chicago Innovation Exchange, Chicago, IL
    Elliot Washington, Blue1647

    Gillian Knight, Growing Power, Chicago, IL

    Moderated By Ed Hubbard, NLRworms, Chicago, IL
  3. Urban Bees & Biz Panel
    Hosted by Jana Kinsman of Bike a Bee ( and Michael Thompson of
    the Chicago Honey Co-op (
    Panelists are Greg Fisher of Wild Blossom Meadery in Chicago,; Thad Smith of West Side Bee Boyz in Chicago,; and Kate Franzman of Bee Public in Indianapolis
    We will discuss the legalities and business side of beekeeping in urban
    areas. This isn’t your hobby beekeeping panel; we will be discussing how to
    sustain a beekeeping business through community involvement, value-added
    products of the hive, farmers market sales, and other creative venues.
    There will be some discussion on urban beekeeping best practices as well.
Lunch and “Open Mic” – During lunch everyone is encouraged to get up and do a 2-3 minute presentation on their farm or project.
A. Breakout Session I – These breakout session topics will be proposed by participants at the summit throughout the day, and will be announced after lunch. The discussions will be facilitated by summit organizers.
B. Plant Tour
A. Breakout Session II – These breakout session topics will be proposed by participants at the summit throughout the day, and will be announced after lunch. The discussions will be facilitated by summit organizers.
B. Plant Tour
Dinner Break
Party!  Featuring karaoke, dancing, popcorn, beer, good people, and possibly more!!!

Sunday, March 15

Doors open, set up, networking, breakfast snacks
A. Plant Tour (10-11)
B. Group Conversation:  Future of the Midwest Urban Farmers Summit–Was this useful? How can it be more useful in the future?  How can we continue to share knowledge with each other?
11 – 11:30

Snackin’, Stretchin’, and Relaxin’11:30-1

  1. How-To Mini Sessions
  2. Final Break-Out Session

1-1:30Final Gathering — network, clean up, group photo, group hug



We want this to be a sharing experience and encourage you to please bring any pictures, literature or other material about your farm businesses and/or projects. We will be setting up an info-sharing area and hope that this will be one of the best tools for educating each other about best practices.


The generous people at Donation Diner have volunteered to collect food donations and prepare meals for all of us at the Summit.  As you can see on the schedule, on both Saturday and Sunday, they will be providing light breakfasts and snacks.  Also, on Saturday there will be a full lunch provided.  Please bring your own plate or bowl, cup and eating utensils, as we don’t have enough for everyone.


We are not asking for you to pay in advance, but we would love it if you could let us know you are coming so that we can plan accordingly.  You can click anywhere on this paragraph to be taken to the RSVP form.  You will also see that we are trying to facilitate carpools and housing shares, so please help everyone out by answering those questions, too.  Thanks a lot, this is all a really big help to us!

Get Down, Farmer!

Nobody is all business, all the time:

Friday, March 13, 7-11p

Our friends are throwing a farmer-themed party and have invited us all to join them.  Please stay tuned for more details.


Saturday, March 14

“After the summit is the after party, and after the party is a good night’s rest.”

Elise and Katie invite all tired travelers and unfinished conversations to join us at our own house for a fun, little get-together!  We live in a non-formal artist collective on Chicago’s Westside, near our farm.  We have parties all the time, and they are always good fun.  We will screen the documentary “Plant this Movie” and possibly host some YouTube Karaoke.  We will also popcorn.  We are trying to secure a beer donation, but you may have to bring your own (we’ll let you know at the summit).  Catch yourselves some dinner before you come by.  The hangout will go from 8-midnight.   Our address is 818 N Drake, Chicago, IL, 60651, we have a blue gate and poorly displayed address numbers.