Crops on Top brings the farm to the Riverwest neighborhood

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Two brothers take the farm to Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. Jamie and Joel Lichoski are the green thumbs behind Crops on Top, an urban organic farm that’s working on its second crop season this summer.

“We grow everything organically, there are no chemicals,” Jamie said. The small business supplies the surrounding community with fresh and organic products.

“Crops on Top is kind of an adventure when it comes to working on food sustainability in this area. We try to offer a huge variety of products here so that people in the community don’t have to rely entirely on grocery stores. ‘ said Jamie.

Despite the limited garden space, the farm offers a wide selection, including more than 60 vegetables and herbs.

“Having those options for people in the neighborhood kind of brings the community together,” Jamie said.

“Our food production is more than expected,” said Joel Lichoski, Jamie’s brother.

Jamie and Joel are the main builders. Both have backgrounds in the restaurant industry but turned to growing food during the pandemic. They transformed an industrial lot into a plant-based hub built from eco-friendly material.

“This entire garden was created from recycled and reused material. There are very few things we have actually bought from a store. All over our containers, which come from a store in Franklin, planes are communicating with parts that they spent thousands of dollars getting rid of, we found a way to use them and not fill landfills,” said Joel.

And now, about a year later, the 36 x 20 meter urban farm has become a neighborhood hub for the freshest produce.

For the brothers, it’s about much more than just growing and selling vegetables and herbs, it’s also about providing access.

“If you look at the neighborhood, the dining options here are very limited and it’s sort of a big chain grocery store. And even if you look at the yards in the area, they don’t have room for big gardens,” Jamie said.

Community members and even chefs can choose the products they want and need. During the summer, the brothers welcome youngsters to teach them about cooking, gardening and healthy habits. Whether it’s picking vegetables for the community or teaching them how to do it, they’re about giving back.

“We just hope people see that there are different ways they can get involved in the community,” Jamie said.

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