Our Impact

Urban Growers Collective’s work aims to address the inequities and structural racism that exist in the food system and in communities of color. Research suggests that urban agriculture can produce a range of social, health, and economic benefits for communities. We believe engaging in this work will ultimately lead to healing trauma on many levels and will improve the economic vitality and overall health of communities in Chicago.

Our approach is to build economic opportunity for urban farmers and ranchers, mitigate food insecurity, and increase access to high-quality, affordable, and nutritionally-dense food on Chicago’s South and West Sides. As a Black- and women-led organization, healing through food justice is integral to our mission and in our approach to creating a market for urban growers, providing good food for the communities we serve, and throughout all of our programming.

Keep up-to-date with UGC through our 2022 Quarterly Reports posted on our blog.

Our 2021 Impact

A Message From Our Co-Executive Directors:

At Urban Growers Collective, we understand that even in neighborhoods where material security is scarce, our community is abundant.

As we conclude the second year of this global pandemic, we recognize
what extraordinary times we are in. Not only does COVID-19 exacerbate the generations of health and healthcare inequities in our communities, but it also brings wealth, food, and racial disparities to the forefront of public discourse. Throughout 2021, we found ways to hold space both virtually and in-person with our extended community. Together, we worked through new solutions for generating stronger, healthier, and more sustainable communities, and our conversations were met with action both in and beyond our farms.

Together, we began to move from scarcity to abundance.

We found abundance in our 8 farms throughout Chicago, where new and returning farmers welcomed bountiful harvests and created more community health and wealth.

We found abundance in the families and individuals across the South and West Sides who nourish their minds and bodies through our Fresh Moves mobile markets, CSA boxes, and workshops.

We found abundance in the youth who transformed their interests into new career pathways and business plans in our Youth Corps workshops.

Erika Allen & Laurell Sims

$169,687

Food vouchers for free produce allowing customers choice and agency over their food

$343,819

Worth of produce donated to families on the West and South Side

20,465

pounds of produce harvested & grown with love in Chicago

$81,610

Paid in Youth Corps stipends to 188 teens

Job Training & Education

Our Job Training & Education programming builds knowledge and awareness of healthy produce, urban agriculture, and our food system. Providing hands-on training, soft and hard skill development, and economic opportunity to youth and adults, this programming creates a strong foundation for school, work, and life.

Farmers for Chicago: Youth Corps

Our teen job training empowers youth on Chicago’s South and West sides to develop skills that will help them succeed in any career path they choose to follow. Youth Corps participants learn about our food system and business management through a hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) curriculum.

Farmers for Chicago: New Farmer Incubation, Growers and Herbal Apprenticeships

Farmer incubation is an intensive multi-year training program that aids BIPOC beginner farmers in developing and growing their own agribusinesses. The program’s goal is to remove barriers – such as limited access to land or market opportunities – that have historically prevented BIPOC growers and ranchers from owning their own farm or food businesses.

Farmers for Chicago: Adult Job Training

In partnership with Heartland Alliance, our adult job training program provides adults who are hard to employ or at high risk for gun violence with opportunities to gain hands-on experience in horticulture and basic construction.

Educare Preschool Farm

Our Educare head-start preschool farm allows students engage in age-appropriate garden activities and build a strong connection with food and nature. Students plan, plant, tend to, and harvest their own gardens and share the food they grow with their families.

Food Access

We increase access to healthy food through a variety of Food Access programming. It’s our hope that we can improve quality of life for people living on Chicago’s South and West Sides by prioritizing community health and well-being and increasing economic vitality.

Covid-19 Emergency Food Relief

Our COVID-19 emergency food relief efforts include working with our Squad of BIPOC-led partner organizations to distribute produce boxes and prepared meals to community members in need. Not only does our Squad approach meet the immediate needs of communities, it directly supports BIPOC businesses by allowing them to safely grow, process, prepare, and distribute high quality, nutritious meals and produce boxes.

Fresh Moves Mobile Market

The Fresh Moves Mobile Market is a bus that’s been transformed into a mobile farmers’ market to provide South and West Side communities with access to fresh, locally-grown produce; culturally-affirming non-local produce and pantry staples; and value-added products from BIPOC growers and makers. Monday through Friday, we visit partner sites like churches, health clinics, community centers, and schools – places that folks already frequent – to make our Mobile Market as accessible as possible.

Farmers' Markets & Farm Stands

During the growing season, we host weekly farm stands at two of our South Side farms: South Chicago Farm and Roosevelt Square Youth Farm, which is run by our Youth Corps ambassadors as part of their job training curriculum.

CSA Memberships

June through October, we offer a seasonal Collective Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscription. Members receive weekly shares of UGC-grown vegetables and herbs, fruit from Seedling Farm, micro greens from Urban Eden, and produce from our Incubator Farmers. Our members can purchase a Contributor level membership for an additional $25.00/week to provide a mutual aid share to a community member in need.

Community Engagement

The communities we serve are at the core of all of our programming. By prioritizing and engaging the communities around us, we work together to create nourishing environments for everyone. We believe that these spaces are essential to addressing trauma and inequality in our communities.

Workshops & Trainings

Led by UGC staff and industry experts, Urban Growers Collective hosts workshops and trainings on a large variety of topics, including urban agriculture, agribusiness development, mushroom growing, herbal medicine, and beekeeping.

Volunteer Opportunities

Our volunteer program offers weekly drop in opportunities for folks to give back to their community and connect with each other and the land as well as weekly recurring opportunities for those looking for a more long-term commitment. We also offer group volunteer opportunities for local businesses and organizations to get involved.

Community Garden Plots

We currently manage plots at two locations: Jackson Park and our South Chicago Farm. These community garden plots allow South Side community members to safely grow food for themselves and their families. Since many sites on Chicago’s South and West Sides are contaminated with lead and other toxins, we ensure that our community gardeners grow in compost that is either made at our South Chicago Farm or purchased from a mushroom composter outside of the city.

Farm Tours

Youth Corps ambassadors and Urban Growers Collective staff offer tours of our South Chicago and Grant Park farms to teach visitors about the the crops we grow, how we grow them, the importance of many of our crops, and their culinary and medicinal properties.

Questions?

Reach out at info@urbangrowerscollective.org or (773) 376-8882.