Signalites get their hands dirty at City Farm

Sep. 19, 2014

Farm and the City

Working as we do at a tech company, our jobs at Signal involve sitting at a computer for much of the day. We enjoy our work and our office, but on a beautiful late-summer day, sunshine and fresh air beckon.

So it’s not surprising that many of us Signalites jumped at the chance to volunteer on Wednesday at City Farm, just about a mile north of our office. City Farm is stunning and surprisingly bucolic: tidy strips of kale and chard, row upon row of plump red tomatoes, hoop houses brimming with habanero peppers, all with the Chicago skyline as a backdrop.

City Farm’s Dave Henderson gave us a tour of the farm, which is on property owned by the Chicago Housing Authority. We found ourselves to be standing some inches higher than the sidewalk outside the fences; Dave explained that Chicago’s soil has been contaminated by its industrial heritage, so a fresh layer of good growing soil covers the whole site.

Tiago with Wheelbarrow

We would soon get to know that soil well, as we were tasked with a perhaps less-romantic aspect of urban agriculture: weeding.

Half us worked our way along the farm’s edges on Division Street and Clybourn Avenue, pulling the weeds that spilled onto the sidewalk. We became closely acquainted with cucumbers: both their sharp, spiny vines, and the thrill of uncovering a full-grown cucumber, growing right on the sidewalk. The other half of our group weeded on the farm proper, pulling out the intruders amidst the carrots and chard.

Weeding along Division

Beth Dugan, content creation expert, organized the event. “This was our second year at City Farm; it has become a tradition that’s very popular at Signal. Everyone had a great time, and it was a neat way for us to get together in a different environment than usual.”

Mile Milovanovic, a front-end developer, agreed. “It’s really nice to step away from technology work and get into the farm and do some dirty work,” he said. “It also helps me to appreciate my job here after farming for a couple hours. I think I’m going to keep my day job.”

Signal's Farm Team

P.S. We’re hiring! Check out our open positions here.

Photos by David Michaels and Laurel Wamsley.