GP Chicago Entrepreneurial Training Program

Growing Power Chicago’s Entrepreneurial Farm Training Program is a hybrid business training course that allows participants to learn the hands on fundamentals of farming while simultaneously developing their business plan.  The course will be a series of four long weekend seminars with benchmarks completed between sessions by participants. Each session will incorporate hands on training and practical farm time.

Our Goal:
“To provide new and emerging farmers and ranchers with hands-on training in intensive urban agriculture production, post-harvest handling and wholesale volume, business and marketing planning, and long-term mentoring support to improve and develop farm operation viability and as a foundation in promoting food security in food desert communities.”

Cost: $2500. (Payment plan available)

For a full schedule and application, please email

Limited scholarships available via USDA-Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program supported Fellowship scholarship program for Farmers of Color.

The Workshops

Each session will have a strong hands-on training and classroom session to support each participant’s goals to make their business plan a reality. Please come prepared for field work with weather appropriate attire.

This practical adult education training program is designed to assure that participants have the tools to begin their commercial urban farming project when the training concludes.  One-on-one advising is part of the program, both as participants work between sessions to develop your farming plan and at the conclusion of the formal program.  This program is designed for those individuals who are serious and ready to contribute to the food system in their communities as members of the farming profession and is designed to provide support and coaching to complete a viable plan. Our expectation is that participants complete their work between sessions and come prepared.

Each session will focus on a seasonal skill set and will provide opportunities for trainees to learn how to farm. This will be complemented by classroom learning and discussion to prepare participants to complete a realistic plan. Each session will include site visits and opportunities to connect with urban farmers, buyers and restaurateurs, funders and investors.


All Classroom Activities will take place at: 1200 W 35th Street, Chicago IL, 60609

All Farm Activities will take place at: 9000 S. Mackinaw Ave, Chicago IL, 60617

Workshop Weekend 1 

March 31 – April 1 2017

The Vision, Seeding Your Future in the Community: Big vision mapping session; mission & vision statements; defining core values, both personal and commercial; and community engagement.

Participants will develop a comprehensive vision of their commercial agriculture endeavor. It is important that participants clearly define the various program elements and economic aspects of their project. Once the big picture is developed, participants will create a project outline that will serve as the blueprint for the business plan to be developed over the four sessions. Growing Power considers involving the community as one of the keys to the long range sustainability of a commercial urban agriculture enterprise. Often this outreach leads to partnerships, new resources, funding and investment, and marketing of your products and services.

Project Planning                   

Workshop participants develop a comprehensive vision of their commercial agriculture endeavor. It is important that participants clearly define the various program elements and economic aspects of their project. Once the big picture is developed, participants create a project outline that will serve as the blueprint for their community food system project. Project plans can range from school gardens, community farms, farmers markets, beehive cooperatives, urban youth farms, etc. The process is creative and provides a step-by-step approach to guide the development of a full project plan.

Living Biological Growing Systems: Compost and Vermicompost

Participants will learn how to develop a comprehensive and sustainable growing system that can grow food with a consistent and affordable supply of fertility. We will show participants how to build indoor and small scale compost systems, as well as design and maintain outdoor, small and large-scale systems.  Participants will discuss collection of waste streams in the city or on the farm. We will also teach the basics of Vermicomposting and will construct and explain how to maintain a worm bin.  The on farm use of vermicompost as a fertilizer will be a focus and how to use it for generating cash from those who want an excellent, organic fertilizer or compost teas.

Workshop Weekend 2

June 2-4 2017

Participants will learn the basics of marketing: retail, wholesale and direct. This information will provide a springboard to begin strategizing how products and services will be sold to generate revenue for the enterprise. Planning value-added products, workshops, sales to restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture, and farmers’ markets will all be explored through small group discussion and a questions and answers session with Growing Power’s marketing manager. Additionally, participants will be introduced to safe food handling and certifications required to open up new markets.

Mushroom Production

Participants learn how to raise oyster, wine cap, and shiitake mushrooms that are profitable and inexpensive to maintain.

Micro-greens, Marketing & Year-Round Production

Participants receive hands-on training to learn how to mix soil, seed, harvest, wash and package micro-green sprouts and wheatgrass.  Participants engage in group discussion focused on year-round greenhouse production and marketing strategies to effectively sell these high-value products.

Workshop Weekend 3

September 15-17 2017

Bringing it all Together: Financials and Human Resources: Making Sure Your Ends Meet. Financial planning, budgets and spreadsheets, grant writing and financing your project, and small group budget development.

Now that we have developed a concise vision and marketing plan, we will create a comprehensive operating budget, profit and loss format and begin to develop a financing or grant writing for the business plan. Growing Power will provide bookkeeping and accounting basics presentation and provide templates for developing the budget.

Workshop Weekend 4

December 8-10 2017

 Dismantling Racism

Farm planning for 2018 and DR Training.

We will also provide a community Building and Dismantling Racism Training that reflects the basic principles needed to operate a just food project that is community based.




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