Some Chicago roofs have gotten a much needed facelift in recent months, as students from Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School in Chicago helped to install greenhouses on top of their school buildings.
The students began growing the fruits and vegetables as part of a science project required by their instructors, who believed it would increase their chances of getting into a university.
But the fervor spread to the neighborhood.
The students began to focus more on healthy living, creating a program called “Muevete,” or Active Life, encouraging members of the neighborhood to begin exercising. The neighborhood, primarily Latino of all races, has an extremely high obesity rate.
Carlos De Jesus, Assistant Principal, expressed how the neighborhood lacked fresh food.
“Of the 10 grocery stores in our community, only one sold fresh produce. You had to go a long way to buy a tomato.”
Can you imagine?
It took four years to get the project off the ground, but when it finally began to flourish the greenhouse housed lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, red peppers, sweet chili peppers, cilantro, cilantro, and oregano.
According to De Jesus, “The district is ready to provide more land if we show that the use of it is productive — and we’re going to convince them enough so they’ll give us 10 acres next year.”
This urban farming project has expanded to Humboldt Park where the students plan to grow fruit including experiments with apples, pears, oranges, lemons, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, and dates.