'Storm water farm garden' development bringing new job opportuni - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

'Storm water farm garden' development bringing new job opportunities to Peoria

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Peoria, Ill. (WEEK) -- Sewage overflow is an ongoing problem in Peoria... but one local group is trying to minimize it with one small plot.

It's a lot on SW Reed street.. it usually gets pretty flooded when it rains. 'Gifts in the Moment', or GITM, is helping develop a storm water farm garden. This is the first of its kind in the country.

A rainy day like today is exactly what this lot in Peoria will need for it's upcoming project. On Thursday, GITM will break ground.

The unique project is a combination of an urban ag farm and storm water forest. Co-Director of GITM, Denise Urycki says the project will make a significant impact on a long-time problem.

"The idea is that these trees will hold storm water and if it's holding that storm water it means it's not contributing to the combined sewer overflow issue that Peoria has", said Urycki. She says the half of the project, the urban farm, is bringing job opportunities.

"Openings for 20 apprentices will start in February with some classroom education. Then they'll put heir knowledge to the test and they will be using this as their location for their farm and growing produce", said Urycki.

Urban farm educator Dwayne Harris says their apprenticeship could be a great opportunity for any skill level. They will be growing and selling produce for the community.

"They don't need any experience in agriculture. This is truly to teach them the business of agriculture", said Harris.

This project is a collaboration between GITM, the city of Peoria, and Fresh Coast Capital. As for location, GITM Co-Director Kim Keenan says this spot was an easy decision.

"They wanted a large enough site that we could put the forest and the urban agriculture farm on. They also wanted to figure out a site on the south village where it was probably collecting the most storm water run-off", said Keenan.

The project receive a grant for $940,000 from the USDA Conservation Innovation Grant.

GITM invites the community to join them for their ground breaking on Thursday with food, music and entertainment.

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