CITY OF PEORIA: Sat., June 30 Ribbon Cutting for The Well Farm at Voris Field
City of Peoria issued the following announcement on June 21.
The Well Farm at Voris Field, a new urban farm in Peoria’s First District, opens to the public with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony and community BBQ on Saturday, June 30, 2018 at 1:00p.m. A USDA NRCS-funded pilot project, The Well Farm demonstrates how urban agriculture can reduce stormwater runoff that pollutes the Illinois River, and showcases many of the community benefits that result from green stormwater infrastructure development.
The Well Farm pilot project is part of the Peoria Innovation Team’s (i-team) work to help the City demonstrate how green solutions can help reduce overflow from the City’s combined sewer system while enriching community life and expanding opportunity for residents. Fresh Coast designed the site and programming in partnership engineering firm AKRF, the City of Peoria, and The Gifts in the Moment (gitm) Foundation, and a 20-member stakeholder advisory group representing residents of Peoria’s First District. The project team has been working since 2016 to bring the vision of a working “stormwater farm” to life. Site design and construction were completed on time and on budget in June, and attendees at the Ribbon Cutting will receive a guided tour of the site’s water management features, which include a stormwater forest with 126 trees, a 3,000 square foot floriculture space, and 100 raised planter beds. Together, these features will capture runoff from a 1.55 acre area, preventing an estimated 1.3 million gallons of stormwater from entering Peoria’s combined sewer system each year.
Fresh Coast VP of Programs, April Mendez emphasized that her team’s “deep partnerships with Peoria organizations like The gitm Foundation have been critical to shaping the project designs to maximize community benefits. Our community benefits-driven design approach to green infrastructure requires us to put down roots in this community, and it’s been such a rewarding process.”
The idea to pursue an urban farm concept began with Fresh Coast’s goal to pioneer green stormwater infrastructure solutions that maximize benefits to the local community, and engage residents in design, construction, and maintenance to ensure the long-term success of installations. First district residents’ desires to increase access to fresh produce and create new jobs made the urban farm concept an ideal fit for the community.
The working urban farm will produce locally grown flowers, food and timber, and provide internships and apprenticeships to youth and adults who want to learn agribusiness, hydrology, and other career skills. The gitm Foundation’s Urban Agriculture Apprenticeship Program will take up to 20 participants each year who will cultivate produce, cut flowers, and learn how to sell their products at local farmers market. The gitm Foundation’s Dwayne Harris, who oversees the apprenticeship program, said, “Our first twelve apprentices come from many walks of life, but they will leave this program with the same thing: real skills and experience that will allow them to pursue a fulfilling career and benefit their local community.”
The Well Farm complements other efforts by the Peoria i-team such as PeoriaCorps, a job training program for maintaining and developing green stormwater infrastructure for young residents who have been out of school and unemployed. The Peoria i-team is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies i-teams program to help cities solve problems in new ways to deliver better results for residents.
Mayor Jim Ardis, an early supporter of the project said “Peoria is known for its innovative spirit; we’re not afraid to be the first mover on better solutions – green infrastructure like The Well Farm is just one example; we hope to be the first city in the U.S. to address stormwater with 100% green infrastructure. It’s about a more beautiful, more sustainable future for our residents and businesses.”
The Well Farm is supported by a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, a federal program that stimulates the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural lands. In 2016, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded Fresh Coast Capital in partnership with the City of Peoria, gitm Foundation, and AKRF $1 million in funds to install an urban agriculture and stormwater management project in Peoria. This grant funding was met with $1 million in matching funds and resources.
“The Well Farm integrates agriculture, impact investing, community building and green infrastructure—it checks a lot of boxes for USDA and we’re excited to watch the project as it grows and delivers enormous benefits to Peoria and similar communities throughout the Nation,” said Kari Cohen, Director of the Conservation Innovations Team at NRCS.
The once-vacant property at 1013 Southwest Reed Ave where The Well Farm is located was originally purchased in 1835 by brothers Francis and Samuel Voris, farmers who were attracted to Peoria by the rich agricultural soil. The urban farm’s new name, The Well Farm at Voris Field, was selected by the community to reflect the site’s history and the many benefits of the farm, from helping to clean water and providing agriculture apprenticeship opportunities, to increasing community wellbeing through increased access to fresh produce and a welcoming gathering space.
Ribbon Cutting attendees can RSVP for free at https://wellfarmribboncutting.eventbrite.com. Please note that this is an outdoor event and will take place rain or shine.
Fresh Coast Capital is a green infrastructure delivery partner that helps cities achieve high-impact, community-driven stormwater solutions at scale. Our public and private land green infrastructure installations are designed holistically with the community, delivered at scale, and maintained for the long-term. That’s how our team of project managers, community organizers, landscape architects, engineers, and finance professionals helps get the most good out of green infrastructure. Fresh Coast is a women-owned, certified B-Corp. Additional information is available at: www.freshcoastcapital.com.
Bloomberg Philanthropies Innovation Teams Program
Now working in more than 20 cities across four countries, the Innovation Teams Program helps cities solve problems in new ways to deliver better results for residents. Bloomberg Philanthropies awards cities multi-year grants to create in-house innovation teams, or “i-teams,” which offer cities a different set of tools and techniques to innovate more effectively and tackle critical challenges—from reducing violent crime to revitalizing neighborhoods to strengthening the growth of small businesses. For more information on the City of Peoria Innovation Team, please visit www.peoriagov.org/innovation, www.facebook.com/peoriail, and follow @CityofPeoria_IL on Twitter.
Original source can be found here.