Windy City Harvest
Industry-Specific 14-Week Courses

Aquaponic Production Course

Spring 2015
Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Instructor: Andy McGhee, Windy City Harvest aquaponics coordinator

Class Location: Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western Avenue, Chicago

This course is intended for aspiring urban agriculture entrepreneurs and individuals who are interested in learning best practice aquaponic growing techniques. Aquaponics, a combination of hydroponic agriculture and recirculating aquaculture, is sustainable and highly adaptable to various urban settings. This course will combine classroom and hands-on work to prepare students for various types of aquaponic growing, specifically as it applies to urban agriculture projects. This course is a technical training course. It will involve farm work activities that are moderately physical in nature. Students are expected to be prepared to handle and process products from the system including vegetables, worms, and fish. Some horticultural or agricultural experience is recommended.

Course topics will include but are not limited to the following:

  • Aquaponic fundamentals and history
  • Biology and chemistry of aquaponic growing systems
  • Design and operation of aquaponic systems
  • Aquaponic seed propagation, crop management, processing, and integrated pest management (IPM)
  • Fish selection, care, environmental parameters, and disease
  • Aquaponic system operations: harvest methods, food safety, maintenance
  • Commercial aquaponic models

Students will build a fully functional home-scale aquaponics system. The class will take at least one field trip to visit an operating commercial aquaponic operation. The class will participate in hands-on workshops related to the various topics during most sessions. Some topics may be instructed by guest lecturers.

Registration*: We are always accepting applicants.

The first payment installment is due upon registration, the second installment is due April 20, and the final installment is due May 18.

*This course is limited to 20 students; determinations are made by Windy City Harvest staff.

To apply, please submit a cover letter, application, and income verification to Kate Gannon at kgannon@chicagobotanic.orgFor additional information on Windy City Harvest Apprenticeship programs, please contact Kelly Larsen at 847-650-7303

Business and Entrepreneurship for Local Foods 

Fall 2015
Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western Avenue

This course is intended for aspiring urban-agriculture entrepreneurs who are launching or planning to launch a local foods business. The course has been designed for those practicing sustainable urban agriculturalists who want to produce vegetable crops and agricultural products for sale in commercial markets. Course content has been developed in partnership with an M.B.A. team from DePaul University. Topics covered include:

  • Direct and indirect marketing of produce through channels such as co-ops, CSAs, restaurants, and other markets
  • Crop enterprise budgeting and accounting
  • Pricing and promotion in urban agriculture
  • Financing for small farms and food businesses
  • Land access and leases
  • Food-industry-specific business licensing issues

This course requires acceptance based on your local foods business plan concept and initial pitch. You will have an opportunity to pitch your business plan concept on August 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. to the program instructor and staff.  There will also be a business model canvas activity day for accepted students on September 15 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Students must commit to one local foods business model to create a business plan for the entire 14-week course. Guest speakers and activities designed to support the creation of a business plan will be incorporated into lessons. The final project is pitching a local foods business plan as well as submitting a completed written business plan.

Registration*: We are always accepting applicants.

*This course is limited to ten students, determinations are made by WCH staff

To apply, please submit a cover letter, application, and income verification to Kate Gannon at . For additional information on WCH Apprenticeship Programs, please contact Kelly Larsen at (847) 650-7303.

Season-Extension

Fall 2015

Instructor: Megan Baumann, Windy City Harvest Youth Farm coordinator, Lake County

Class Location: Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western Avenue

This is a technical training course intended for aspiring urban agriculture entrepreneurs and individuals who are interested in learning best practice season extension techniques. The course has been designed for individuals who already have a firm foundation in sustainable urban growing techniques. It will combine classroom and hands-on work to prepare students to effectively utilize season extension in their existing urban agricultural projects. It will involve farm work activities in all weather conditions. Students are expected to work indoors and outdoors throughout the duration of the course.

Topics and activities will include but are not limited to:

  • Crop planning and selection for both spring and fall season extension, for both in-ground and raised-bed gardens
  • High tunnel, low tunnel, and cold frame production, construction, and installation
  • Fertility, watering, venting, harvesting, and post-harvest handling for season extension
  • Overwintering crops and varieties
  • Marketing and pricing crops in shoulder season and throughout the winter
  • Field trips to urban and peri-urban farms utilizing season extension techniques
  • Guest lecturers from urban and peri-urban farmers
  • Hands-on production experience and living lab growing in WCH low tunnels and high tunnels

Students will create a season extension crop plan for an existing farm site. Guest speakers and activities designed to support the creation of a crop plan will be incorporated into lessons. The final project is presenting a season extension crop plan as well as submitting a completed written crop plan. 

Registration*: We are always accepting applicants.

*This course is limited to ten students, determinations are made by WCH staff

To apply, please submit a cover letter, application, and income verification to Kate Gannon at .  For additional information on WCH Apprenticeship Programs, please contact Kelly Larsen at (847) 650-7303.