Radical Root Organic Farm

Emanuel Padilla | 11.14.2018

What has the farm to do with the city? How do they relate to one another? More often than not, the city is a parasite of the rural region beyond its limits. It attracts and often keeps the young talent born in the small town. It demands increased development to house commuting workers and their families, absorbing acres of farmland to that end. The city continues to leach from the land around it. When the local region reaches its limits, the city makes use of the global economy to continue to sustain its life. According to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), Illinois residents spend $48 billion on food annually, but roughly $46 billion is spent on imported food.[1] At the time of CMAP’s original report, food consumed in Chicago traveled an average of 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. The habits of Chicago and cities like it have become “increasingly violent toward the landscape.”[2]

This global food economy depends on industrial farms that produce efficient crops like maize, soybean, and grains. These industrial farms are highly subsidized by government agencies.[3] They make use of genetic modification, seed homogenization, mechanized planting, fertilizers, and pesticides which enable more efficient farming, but they also have devastating environmental repercussions. “For instance, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations records food wastage in the world at 33 percent, with little over half of that occurring at the level of agricultural production and storage, a number that if more responsibly managed would halt deforestation for agricultural production in the Amazon rainforest altogether.”[4] Whether we realize it or not, our choices about the food we buy and consume supports a system that affects everything from water shortages to insect populations and climate change.

How we imagine and use the land and its resources is a moral and religious concern as much as it is a practical one.” [5]

We need a new way of thinking about food, farming, and the city. Radical Root Organic Farm is one of a few Community-Supported Agricultural farms (CSA) surrounding the city of Chicago. Alison, a mother of two and co-owner of the farm along with her husband Alex, writes, “Instead of simply being careful not to harm the environment, we want to farm in way that benefits and contributes to the earth and to our communities.”[6] This feature is a conversation with Alison about the food industry, CSAs, and their call to make a system that connects the farm to the city in new ways. They graciously received the WOS team to their home and gave us a tour of the farm. Watch the video below, then listen to the podcast to learn more about ways you can support local organic food production and a new relationship between the city and farm.


[1] “Local Food – CMAP,” accessed November 14, 2018, https://www.cmap.illinois.gov/about/2040/livable-communities/local-food-systems.

[2] Jennifer Allen Craft, Placemaking and the Arts: Cultivating the Christian Life (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2018), 24.

[3] According to one report, $500bn is spent every year on agricultural subsidies (Damian Carrington Environment editor, “Avoiding Meat and Dairy Is ‘Single Biggest Way’ to Reduce Your Impact on Earth,” The Guardian, May 31, 2018, sec. Environment, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/31/avoiding-meat-and-dairy-is-single-biggest-way-to-reduce-your-impact-on-earth).

[4] Craft, 24.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Radical Root Organic Farm,” Radical Root Organic Farm, accessed July 17, 2018, http://www.radicalrootfarm.com/about-us.

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