BIOS Farm is a Blue Island-based community farm in its third year of production of organic vegetables, greens and herbs for local consumption.
The farm is led by Joe O’Meara and Larry O’Toole, who have more than a quarter century of farming experience.
Larry is a 20-year veteran of farming and urban garden development. Before starting BIOS, Larry was Farm Manager of Growing Home, where he oversaw the organizations urban and rural farms, and developed staff training programs.
Inspired by a cooking career that led him to the kitchens of Frontera Grill/Topolobampo, Joe spent the last 9 years working at local farms including City Farm, Tempel Farms Organics and Radical Root.
In two seasons, despite challenges with drainage, water access and inadequate facilities, BIOS has:
Grown, processed and distributed more than 20,000 pounds of quality organic produce, of which over 95% is distributed in Blue Island by way of:
30 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscriptions – providing fresh, high-quality food and a taste of seasonal eating to local families.
Local restaurant distribution including The Maple Tree Inn and Cottage on Dixie.
Weekly On-Site Farm Stand – providing affordable, fresh produce to our diverse and economically challenged neighborhood.
Regular donations to individuals and St. Benedict Food Pantry.
Created positive community partnerships and events:
The Olde Western Artisan Market, a monthly food market featuring local and regional meat, produce, prepared food, and entertainment at the Blue Island Beer Company.
Collaboration with Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail & City of Blue Island to develop infrastructure for a bike trail rest stop next to the farm.
Events focused on healthy living and sustainable growing, many of which are free to attend, including potlucks, fermentation workshops, yoga on the farm, spring seedling sales, and foraging workshops.
Partnerships with local businesses and organizations like the City of Blue Island, Blue Island Beer Company, Rock Island Public House, Camchi Kimchi, Maple Tree Inn, Cottage on Dixie, my B.I., St. Benedict Parish, Friends of the Cal-Sag Trail, and more.
BIOS Farm has been cited as an example and potential model for developing local food enterprises by the Center for Neighborhood Technology