Help Build Iron Street Farm on Chicago's Southside

 
$14,053 $20,947
Raised Remaining

We are happy to report that this summer has been one of our busiest and most prosperous summers yet.  We continued to build existing partnerships and create new ones, increased production and our outreach efforts.  Below is a list of specific activities performed during this quarter:

 

  • We worked with 230 teens during this summer at our Chicago farms, teaching grow bed construction, seeding and planting, harvesting, marketing produce to their communities, cooking and nutrition.
  •  A new partnership with Working Bikes, a Chicago based non-profit, was launched to teach our teens bicycle repair and safety.  Teens learned how to fix-up salvaged bikes, how to safely navigate city streets, and how to transport produce via bike cart.  More than 200 teens were certified through this program.
  • Staff maintained our seven active farm sites totaling 7 acres of vegetable production.  Vegetables included tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, eggplant and  greens. Our Chicago crew is selling our produce at farmers markets and stand across the city of Chicago.   We will be breaking ground soon on our newest farm site in partnership with the Chicago Park District.  This 7 acre site will include an urban orchard, a community garden and will incubate 5-10 farmers with the launch of our “Farmers for Chicago” project.
  •  Our Chicago farm launched sprout production during this past summer.  You can purchase local pea shoots and sunflower micro-greens at our Iron Street Farm location.
  • Growing Power benefited from a recent change in State of Illinois composting laws.  This change will allow us to significantly increase our compost production at our Iron Street facility.  We are processing 60,000 lbs of produce, brewery mash and wood chips monthly at this location.
  •  We are working with Tru Blooms Fragrance Company to grow florals at our Grant Farm park to be used to create a hyper-local perfume.  This year, our farmers grew lavender, two varieties of roses, patchouli and rose scented geranium for the perfume company.
Little Debbie
Little Debbie

Spring is finally here in Chicago and we have some wonderful updates to share with you at Iron Street Urban Farm.

  1. We have goats.

Yes, you read that correctly- Iron Street Urban Farm now has two adorable pygmy goats. Welcome Little Debbie and Billy Ray Valentine to the Growing Power Family!

If you can't tell, our staff and youth absolutely love our new furry friends.

(teaser: we got chicken on the way too!)

2. Compost, compost, compost!

The Growing Power Chicago crew built our first of four 96ft hoop houses to expand our compost operation. Each hoop will contain a compost windrow that will be able to accommodate 100 tons of food and carbon waste!

Iron Street Urban Farm is currently picking up thousands of pounds of food waste from local restaurants, breweries, bakeries, and organic wholesalers every week. As we expand our capacity, we will be able to grow even more fertile soil to grow healthy fruits and veggies all year round.

3. Youth Micro Enterprise

Mothers' Day is right around the corner! Still don't know what to get Mom? Well, Growing Power Youth Corps have been hard at work making beautiful bath and garden items to celebrate the holiday. This weekend, we will be featuring two different gift baskets you can purchase:

   -Beauty Basket: Includes hand made bath bombs, sugar scrubs, soaps, scented oils, and fragrance sprays featuring lavender and roses grown in Growing Power's TruBlooms Fragrance Garden in Chicago's Grant Park. ($30)

  -Garden Basket: Includes worm castings, seed bombs, seeds, garden gloves, and a hand-painted flower pot for Mom to get her garden started! ($30)

You can pick up your Mothers' Day baskets at Growing Power's markets this Saturday (5/11/2013) at Green City Market in Lincoln Park, 61st Street Market in Woodlawn, and Iron Street's Farm Stand here in Bridgeport. Purchase your mother something hand crafted by these amazing youth. Only a limited number of baskets will be available so come get yours quick!

GP Production Manager, Laurell, and Billy Ray!
GP Production Manager, Laurell, and Billy Ray!
Teens helping construct the new compost hoop house
Teens helping construct the new compost hoop house
Beauty Gift Baskets made by Growing Power Teens
Beauty Gift Baskets made by Growing Power Teens
Dominique finishing her Mother
Dominique finishing her Mother's Day Gift Basket!
CEO, Will Allen kicks off ILFT weekend!
CEO, Will Allen kicks off ILFT weekend!

Happy New Year!

We hope you had a safe and healthy holiday season.

Even though winter is upon us, Growing Power is still hard at work at Iron Street Urban Farm.

Intensive Leadership Facilitator Training held at Iron Street

December 7-9th, 2012: Growing Power Chicago and the Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative (GFJI) held its second annual "Dismantling Racism through the Food System" Intensive Leadership Facilitator Training (ILFT) at Iron Street Urban Farm. The event sold out with over 80 community activists from across the country and beyond who came to Chicago to engage in this 3-day training and dialogue intended for participants to facilitate anti-racist food justice trainings in their own regions/communities.


The Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative (GFJI), hosted by Growing Power, Inc. is a comprehensive network that views dismantling racism as a core principal that brings together social change agents from diverse sectors working to bring about new, healthy and sustainable food systems and supporting and building multicultural leadership in impoverished communities throughout the world. To learn more and find ways to get involved, please visit www.growingfoodandjustice.org

Growing Power's Youth Program Holiday Gift Basket Series

This holiday season, 25 Growing Power youth corps members dedicated much time and effort to create a series of  beautiful gift baskets for the holiday season. The baskets included lips balms and candles made and designed by the teens using beeswax from Iron Street's rooftop apiary! In addition, youth made herbal teas and dried herb mixes from produce grown on site. Not only did the experience teach the teens how to create and sell their own products, the sales from the baskets went towards providing a supplemental stipend for each teen's participation in the program. Be on the lookout for what we have in store for you in Spring 2013!!

Upcoming Events

Inner Ecology to Co-Host Midwest Farmer Training Workshop in East Asian Herb Cultivation, February 1-2 2013

Eco-Vision Sustainable Learning Center (Lake Geneva, WI), FamilyFarmed.org, Growing Power, and The Land Connection have joined Chicago’s own Inner EcologyTM to host a two-day workshop at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum on February 1 & 2, 2013 for Midwestern growers interested in diversifying their businesses with specialty crops.

The workshop, titled Pioneers in Ecological Medicine (PEM), will introduce growers to the basic strategies of producing domestic East Asian medicinal herbs. Topics include: selecting zone- appropriate crops, applying propagation strategies, assessing and managing risks, developing production plans, calculating production costs, implementing quality controls, marketing, and understanding legal and regulatory issues. It will be followed on Sunday, February 3rd by a benefit event open to the public.

Noted herb farming experts Jean Giblette of High Falls Gardens in New York and Peg Schafer of Chinese Medicinal Herb Farm in California will facilitate the workshop. With three decades of combined domestic herb-farming experience, Giblette and Schafer believe that sustainable production of East Asian herbs in the U.S. has the potential to benefit both local producers and practitioners.

For more information or to register for the workshop, visit innerecology.com/PEM.

Saturday Farm Stand, Tours, and Volunteer Opportunities

The Iron Street Farm Stand will continue to provide you with fresh veggies throughout the Winter every Saturday from 9am- 3pm. Come get your locally grown produce and stay for a tour or to volunteer. Even in the cold, we still need your help! 

Tours and Volunteer opportunities are available year round at Iron Street.

  • Tuesday and Thursday: Tours are at 1pm. Saturdays: Tours are at 10am and 1pm. There is a $10 fee per person for tours.
  • Volunteer Opportunities are available Tuesday and Thursday 1-4pm and Saturdays 10-4pm. First time volunteers must come on tour for orientation (fee omitted for volunteers). Please wear clothing that is weather-appropriate and can get dirty, and bring a water bottle and snacks. You are welcome to stay as late as 4pm, or leave earlier.

 

Community Leaders in Visioning Exercise at ILFT
Community Leaders in Visioning Exercise at ILFT
Youth Gift Baskets
Youth Gift Baskets
Homemade Herbal Tea!
Homemade Herbal Tea!
Youth Honey Gift Basket!
Youth Honey Gift Basket!
Youth Gift Baskets- Dried Herbs
Youth Gift Baskets- Dried Herbs
Youth Corps in hoop house full of okra at Iron St.
Youth Corps in hoop house full of okra at Iron St.

Even though summer is officially over, Iron Street Urban Farm is still in full bloom. This summer has been especially exciting as we have seen this once abandoned site, which we've spent so much time transforming, prove to be a productive urban farm! We have tons of tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, and other delicious veggies growing in our hoop houses and outdoor raised beds.  Growing Power Chicago was able to train and employ over 225 youth throughout Chicago this summer! Over 45 youth from Chicago's south side participated in our programming at Iron Street Urban Farm. Our teens assisted us in seeding, harvesting, weeding, and other general maintenance of the farm including putting on shade cloth on all of our 6 hoop houses.

All the produce grown has been sold to local restaurants and farmers' markets, including the creation of 5 new markets on Chicago's west-side. Growing Power partnered with the City of Chicago to open 5 new farmers' markets in food insecure communities including Austin, West Humboldt Park, and Garfield Park. Growing Power was able to hire a new market manager as well as 5 local youth to assist with managing and promoting the markets. If you have an opportunity please come support any of the following markets, as they will run through October!


Tuesdays
COLUMBUS PARK (South Austin)
June 26 – October 30, 1pm – 7pm, Harrison and Central
 
Wednesdays
LA FOLLETTE PARK (Austin/ West Humboldt Park)
June 20 – October 24, 1pm – 7pm, 1333 N. Laramie
 
Thursdays
AUSTIN TOWN HALL (Austin)
June 28 – October 25, 1pm-7pm, Lake and Central
 
Saturdays
MT. EBENEZAAR BAPTIST CHURCH (Humboldt Park/East Garfield Park)
June 30 – October 27, 10am-4pm, 3555 W. Huron
   
Sundays
HEALING TEMPLE CHURCH (West Humboldt Park)
June 24 – October 28,  2pm-6pm, 4941 W. Chicago

Aside from starting new farmers' markets and engaging hundreds of teens, Growing Power Chicago also assisted in installing 6 new urban farms/ gardens this summer!!! These included:

- Trublooms Garden in Grant Park in partnership with TruFragrance to create Chicago’s first truly local perfume consisting of lavender, lilies and roses.

- Educare Garden at 59th Street and South State Street, Chicago, IL 60621. This site will be a teaching garden for the preschool at Ounce of Prevention. It contains 200 square feet with 10 beds, an herb spiral, and pumpkin patch.

- Beloved at 78th Street and Racine Avenue, Chicago, IL 60620, which will be a youth run farm with a market. 

- 3 community gardens in partnership with Chicago Housing Authority located at Wentworth Gardens, Lathrop Homes, and Lake Park Place. These sites each employ 6-8 youth from the designated community to assist with garden design, implementation, maintenance, and community engagement.

 

Come check out all the hard work we've done this summer!

Cooking session with Youth
Cooking session with Youth
snap peas and radishes
snap peas and radishes
Growing Food in the City
Growing Food in the City
flowers and hoop houses
flowers and hoop houses
GP Staff and Interns at Educare Garden
GP Staff and Interns at Educare Garden
Lots of kale flourishing in the dead of winter!
Lots of kale flourishing in the dead of winter!

Happy New Year! 

Despite the drop in temperatures, Iron Street Urban Farm is still bustling with activity and year round food production! 

Updates:

-We now have 6 hoop houses finished that are growing delicious winter greens such as kale and spinach. These along with other Growing Power goodies are sold at our weekly farm stand at Iron Street on Saturdays from 10am-4pm. 

- Iron Street Urban Farm also has officially open the doors to volunteers 3 times a week. Even in the winter months, there is plenty to do at Iron Street! Work may include moving wood chips or compost, sifting worm castings, tending crops, and general maintenance.

Tuesdays: 1-4pm, Thursdays: 1-4pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm

So come on out and get your hands dirty!
 
- Growing Power held it's first School Garden ABCs workshop on Saturday, January 14th from 9am - 4pm. The workshop was designed for school garden educators or involved community members who wanted to learn more about designing, planning and sustaining school gardens. Over 50 teachers participated, shared their vision of a comprehensive and engaging school garden, and learned more about Growing Power's techniques and how to better integrate the garden into their curriculum!
- Growing Power staff and youth have also helped harvest our first batch of honey. Youth in our after school job training program are learning all about bees, their vital role in the environment and on the farm, and how to make value added products such as lips balms and other beauty products.
Lots more to come in the upcoming months! Growing Power Chicago will be celebrating its 10 year anniversary on February 25th. More information to come! We hope you will come and help us celebrate all we've accomplished over the past decade. 
Teachers learning about oyster mushroom production
Teachers learning about oyster mushroom production
Teachers making mini vermicomposting bins
Teachers making mini vermicomposting bins
Harvesting Honey!
Harvesting Honey!
Harvesting Honey!
Harvesting Honey!
Harvesting Honey!
Harvesting Honey!

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Organization

Project Leader

Erika Allen

Chicago, IL United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Help Build Iron Street Farm on Chicago's Southside