Crops on Top brings the farm to Riverwest neighborhood

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

"We raise everything organically, there's no chemicals," said Jamie. The small business provides fresh and organic produce to the surrounding community.

"Crops on Top is kind of an adventure in trying to work on the food sustainability in this area. We're trying to do a huge selection of produce here so that people in the community don’t have to rely totally on grocery stores," Jamie said.

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

"To have those options for the people in the neighborhood, you know it kind of brings the community together," said Jamie.

"Our production of food is kind of more than we expected," said Joel Lichoski, Jamie's brother.

Jamie and Joel are the lead farmers. Both have a background in the restaurant industry but turned to growing food during the pandemic. They turned an industrial lot into a vegetable fulcrum built with eco-friendly material.

"This whole garden has been made with recycled and reused material. There's very few things that we actually bought from a store. Anywhere from our containers coming from a business down in Franklin shipping airplanes communication parts that they were spending thousands of dollars to get rid of, we found a way to use them and not fill landfills," said Joel.

And now about a year in, the 116 x 65-foot urban farm has become a neighborhood hub for the freshest produce.

For the brothers, it's much more than just growing and selling veggies and herbs, it's about providing access, too.

"When you look at the neighborhood, the options here for food are very limited and it's big chain kind of grocery stores. And even when you look at the yards in the area, they don't have space for big gardens," said Jamie.

Community members and even chefs can pick the produce they want and need. During the summers, the brothers welcome youth to teach them about cooking, gardening and healthy habits. For them, whether it's picking greens for the community or teaching how to do so, it's all about giving back.

"We’re just hoping people see that they can get involved in the community in different ways," Jamie said.

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