Column: Organic grower may lose farm due to unpaid taxes. ‘I can’t believe this has happened to me.’ – Chicago Tribune

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Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Chicago Tribune. Jim Armstrong, 70, ekes out a living growing vegetables organically on a 5-acre farm in Richton Park and selling produce to local restaurants and at farmer’s markets. Customers clamor to buy his fresh tomatoes, kale, carrots, pumpkins, cucumbers, green beans, lettuce and other vegetables. “I’m taking these snow peas to market,” he said, showing me around his farm off Crawford Avenue. “They’ll be gone in 15 minutes. I tried planting 800 feet of them out there and they didn’t germinate.” Armstrong donates surplus produce to food pantries, he said. This year’s drought adds to challenges that threaten the loss of Armstrong’s livelihood. Armstrong will surrender ownership of his farm unless he pays the county $8,112 by Nov. 24 to cover a tax bill, Will County Treasurer Tim Brophy said. Taxes on the agricultural property were only about $2,500 a year, but they were unpaid for 2017, 2018 and 2019, records showed. Someone paid the bill at a recent tax sale. Armstrong faces a Thanksgiving deadline to redeem his taxes and save his farm. “It’s coming down near the end where if I don’t do something they’re going to come over here,” he said. “Are they going to drag me off the land, the other people who bought the land? What happens to my tractor, what happens to my equipment? I don’t know.” Armstrong said he does not want a handout or one of those popular online crowdfunding appeals. “The one thing I’m not looking for is a GoFundMe or someone giving me anything,” he said.