CHICAGO — After announcing plans this week to open a new grocery store in Englewood, the CEOs of Whole Foods Market donated $100,000 to fund a nearby urban farm, the mayor's office said.
Whole Foods Market co-CEO Walter Robb and its Midwest President Michael Bashaw visited Growing Home's West Englewood farm at 58th and Honore streets after announcing its plans for an 18,000-square-foot store near Kennedy-King College.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel also took a trip to the city's only organic farm, known for its leafy greens, carrots and tomatoes.
The executives' donation will go toward building a new greenhouse and hiring eight more interns, according to a statement from the mayor's office.
In 2011, Growing Home produced 11,000 pounds of organic crops. With the expansion, the farm expects to produce three times as much, said Growing Home's outreach manager, Sonya Harper.
While none of the farm's produce ends up at Whole Foods now, the mayor's office said the Englewood grocery store could be a buyer once it opens in 2016.
"We would, of course, be elated if Whole Foods wanted our produce," Harper said. "We're very appreciative to see how Whole Foods will partner and work with the community."
The high-end market's plans to build in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods has been met with mixed response, with some in the neighborhood welcoming the development, while others questioning if area residents could afford shopping there.
"I'm not sure how we are going to do it, but we will address the price differences between us and other grocery stores," Robb said at a Wednesday news conference. "We plan to engage the community in this process and find out from them what products they want sold at the Englewood store."
A price check conducted by DNAinfo Chicago comparing prices at the Englewood Aldi, 620 W. 63rd St., and a Near West Side Whole Foods Market, 1101 S. Canal St., showed significant price differences for similar items.