The city of Peoria Public Works Department’s Mayor’s Youth Program paired up with PeoriaCorps in July to tackle cleanup efforts at the City’s Well Farm at Voris Field.
The Mayor’s Youth Program’s mission is rooted in the commitment to bettering the City’s green infrastructure and supporting the stormwater utility. The group of 13 student workers conquered nearly 100 planter boxes in two days’ time — pulling weeds, churning soil, and placing mulch to ready the site for future growth opportunities.
“We’re calling on members of the public to come forward and say, ‘Hey, I want to take on this project,’” said Sie Maroon, Peoria Public Works deputy director of operations.
Maroon’s Operations Division inherited the green space when Greenprint Partners handed the project over to the City in 2019.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in the space, but we haven’t had anyone with a long-term plan come forward and take over the planting and harvesting portion. No one is managing the urban agriculture piece,” said Maroon.
The Well Farm is home to three different elements of green infrastructure, including urban agriculture, pollution and water filtration, and urban forestry.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the urban agriculture arm has gone untouched since Fall 2019, however, other spaces at the site have gotten some attention.
In 2021, PeoriaCorps planted native flowers in one of the site’s larger bioswales. The combination of deep rooted plants and infrastructure decreases the velocity of stormwater runoff while removing pollutants from the discharge.
“This site is a gem in our green infrastructure toolbox,” said Andrea Klopfenstein, city engineer. “From bioswales to our urban forest, it really offers a lot of variety that benefits our environment. We just need a solution for the original concept of urban agriculture. We have to find an answer or an alternative use for that space.”
Any individual or organization that has a proven larger scale sustainable business model, and interest in planting and harvesting the urban garden, contact Alex Williams, Public Works Communications Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Well Farm is the winner of the 2019 U.S. Water Alliance U.S. Water Prize, the 2019 Illinois Green Alliance Emerald Award, and the 2019 Sun Foundation Making Waves Award.