1. What is Cultivate Chicago?

Cultivate Chicago is a partnership between the City of Chicago and Together Chicago. Our mission is to better equip production farmers, resident growers, and community stakeholders with the fundamentals of business ownership and financing through technical assistance, coaching and/or mentoring, informational workshops, and data analysis. Our goal is to expand the knowledge, skill, and ability of all stakeholders, encouraging successful urban farm businesses and home gardens. (include justice and environmental food justice issues)

Launching urban agriculture and local food system endeavors can be complicated. There are many considerations including access to and land use policy, economic incentives and disincentives comprehension, and various intricate pieces to connect within the supply chain. Additionally, local resident growers may not have the time or resources to manage and propel farming activities and local food initiatives that have the potential to deliver real economic returns to their business and community.

2. What is the cost of participation?

Other than your time commitment there is no out of pocket cost to participate in this program.

3. Do I need to work on my farm full time to be accepted into the program?

No, you do not need to work full time on your farm to be accepted to this program. However, we will ask for certain information during your application process that will require you to show that you are actively pursuing your farm business.

4. How do you choose which farms you accept into the program?

Interested farms will submit an application for review by our selection committee who will determine which farms best complement each other and the program objectives based on the needs of the collective of applicants.

5. When is my deadline to apply?

The application deadline for cohort 1 is February 7th, 2020. Deadline for cohort 2 is TBA

6. Do I need to submit a business plan?

No. However, you should be able to articulate your vision for your business in the next several years.

7. How long is the technical assistance program?

The technical assistance program consists of a four month curriculum followed by two months of one on one coaching and/or mentoring.

8. Where will the technical assistance classes take place?

The curriculum will be delivered in a traditional classroom style format at a location to be disclosed once applicants have been accepted into the program.

9. Who teaches the classes?

Classes are taught by civic officials and industry experts who have a vested interest in successful outcomes for urban growers.

10. Why do I need technical assistance training?

You are the best person to answer this question. Cultivate Chicago will educate and assist participants with everything from business plan creation to financial model development, access to capital, and introduction to new markets.

11. I’m a veteran urban farmer, what resources do you have for me?

In this ever changing climate an opportunity for continued education and development can be useful for farmers at any stage.

12. Can you fund my urban farm?

Cultivate Chicago itself does not fund farms. However, stakeholders in this curriculum can assist you with access to obtaining funding should you be selected as a cohort participant.

13. I know a great urban farm who should go through your technical assistance program, how can I let you know?

That’s great! Please send them a link to our application process at CultivateChicago.org/Cohort

14. What else does Cultivate Chicago provide? Office space, internet, etc.

You will have access to the class facilitator during designated office hours. You will also have access to our online platform for homework assignments; general communication; announcements; Calendar; and peer to peer interaction.

15. What kind of urban farms do you work with?

Cultivate Chicago will work with farms across the spectrum of urban growing and within the city limits of Chicago.

16. How can I get funded after the technical assistance program ends?

During your one on one mentoring, you will work with a financing expert who can walk you through the process of applying for funding.

17. Do I have to attend each class for the duration of the program?

We encourage you to attend as many in person classes as possible. We do offer virtual attendance options on the rare occasion that a student is unable to attend in person.

18. How much time do I need to invest in this program?

Total time investment is completely up to you. The program will run for 3 Saturdays per month for four months of technical training and 1 hour per week for two months of one on one coaching and/or mentoring. How you invest your time in study and independent research outside of the program is up to you and will determine your ultimate success with this program.

19. What are the benefits of participation?
  1. How to work more collaboratively with the City of Chicago (zoning, permits, licensure, etc.)
  2. Business operations education including Human Resources, Marketing, Legal and Accounting
  3. Access to capital/ different financial models
  4. One on one mentorship with seasoned mentors who have vast networks and access to resources
  5. Peer to peer learning and networking
  6. Walking away from this curriculum with a solid and ready to implement business plan
  7. Access to Land
  8. Learning how to scale your business and become more profitable
  9. Product development assistance (VAPG)
  10. Building Community/ Social Capital
20. What can I expect to learn from this program?

The curriculum will focus on the business side of growing. Specifically, new growers will learn how to write a business plan, develop a financial plan, execute a marketing strategy, pitch their business to prospective buyers, and identify sources of funding.

21. What is one on one mentoring and How does it work?

One on One coaching/mentoring will focus on resolving your top three needs. You will meet with your mentor in person once per week following the technical assistance curriculum.

22. Will I be in class with people who have the same business model?

No, you will benefit from engaging with a broad range of urban growers.

23. How large does my farm have to be in order to participate in the program?

Cultivate Chicago accepts applications for all sizes and stages of urban grower. All are welcome to apply.

24. Who do I contact with questions about the program?

You may contact anyone on the Cultivate Chicago team by emailing us at info@cultivatechicago.org were one of our team members will further assist you.