Growing Power - Chicago

Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. We implement this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food sustainably.

Growing Power - Chicago
3333 South Iron Street
Chicago, IL 60608
United States
 BRIDGE Number: 6026582377


Will Allen

Management Team

Eric Williams, Will Allen, Malcolm Evans, Brian Ellis, Erika Allen, Karen Parker, Lauralyn Clawson, Laurell Sims, Gillian Knight, Tammy Enevol, Loretta Mays, DeShawn Parker, Robert Pierce, Shellie Pierce, Martin Bailkey

Board of Directors

Ariel Kaufman, Welford Sanders, Matthew Cain, Clyde Matthews, Don Richards, Larry Adams, Don Austin, Sharon Adams, David Lerman, Oliver Plunkett, Will Allen


Growing Power is a national nonprofit organization and land trust supporting people from diverse backgrounds, and the environments in which they live, by helping to provide equal access to healthy, safe and affordable food for people in all communities. We implement this mission by providing hands-on training, on-the-ground demonstration, outreach and technical assistance through the development of Community Food Systems that help people grow, process, market and distribute food sustainably.


Growing Power Chicago currently conducts the following programs: 1) Youth Corp program, which employs and trains at-risk youth in sustainable urban agriculture and local community food system development. Aside from learning hands-on concrete skills such as planting, weeding, watering, harvesting, compost production, sales, and marketing; youth are also immersed in life skills training in the form of work ethic and appropriate work place socialization. The key long-term goals of this program are to engage youth in the production and consumption of healthy food, increase physical activity through gardening and farming, and to contribute to the understanding of health and wellness via urban agriculture and community food systems. During the summer of 2012 alone, Growing Power was able to employ and train 225 youth throughout Chicago. 2) Local food production via 11 different urban farms/ gardens throughout Chicago- aquaponics, roof-top apiary, mushrooms, year-round food production; Iron Street Urban Farm: This site will be the first of its kind in Chicago and will be a hub for community activism, local food production, education, and green job training as well as micro-enterprise development. This urban farm is in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood, located on a seven-acre old industrial warehouse that has been abandoned for nearly ten years. Within one year, Growing Power has already taken this property that was not a resource to the surrounding community and transformed it into highly productive community food center. Iron Street Urban Farm has the vision to "grow" healthy soil (compost) and energy, using closed-loop ecological practices in order to produce local, healthy, and sustainable food year-round for Chicago. The site already includes 6 hoop houses for year round food production, (3) 700- gallon aquaponic systems, oyster mushroom production, composting and vermicomposting, and a rooftop apiary with 6 beehives. Altgeld Gardens Urban Farm: During the summer of 2010, Growing Power received an opportunity to establish a new urban farm in Altgeld Gardens, one of Chicago's most impoverished, food insecure, and isolated public housing communities. Due to a partnership with CHA and U-CAN, Growing Power was able to create a 2.5 acre farm and employ 150 adults and 40 youth from the community during the summer of 2010. This program included hands on experience in compost production, building garden beds, hoop-house construction, as well as nutrition education. Years of environmental degradation and exposure to pollutants has made the soil unsuitable for food production. Growing Power staff worked with the community to cap the contaminated soil with clay and then build beds with healthy, organic compost. The site now has 50 planter boxes, 40 growing beds, 1 hoop house for year round production, 20 compost bins, and a worm depository. In 2011, Growing Power also began a weekly farmers market in this food desert community to provide consistent fresh produce to its residents. 120 youth from the community are working at this site during the summer of 2012. Chicago Lights Urban Farm at Cabrini Green: Since 2002, Growing Power has worked in collaboration with Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church to facilitate the Chicago Lights Urban Farm. As the neighborhood transitions from low-income "projects" to mixed-income housing, the overarching goal of the community garden is to help facilitate a thriving diverse community and ensuring that present residents are not cast aside in this process of transformation. Since its inception, Growing Power has supplied the materials, assisted in designing and building the space, served on the garden's planning committee, provided daily staff and technical assistance during the growing season, and developed and implemented a youth curriculum for neighborhood kids and new gardeners. In 2010, the Chicago Lights Urban Farm truly transformed from a community garden to a full operating youth-led urban farm. Youth assisted in constructing two hoop houses on the site, which will allow for increased local food production and longer growing seasons. They also sold fresh produce to the surrounding community every Saturday during the season to community members through the newly acquired farm stand. Grant Park 'Art on the Farm' Urban Agriculture Potager: In partnership with the Chicago Park District and Moore Landscapes, Inc., Growing Power created a 20,000 square foot urban farm on Chicago's lakefront in Grant Park. Over 150 varieties of heirloom vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers are grown at the urban farm in the heart of downtown Chicago. Jackson Park Urban Farm: This half-acre site was established in the spring of 2007 in partnership with the Chicago Parks District, in an effort to demonstrate how public land can be used to address the city's growing problem revolving around communities' lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Roosevelt Square Urban Farm: This 1 acre site was developed in partnership with Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) in 2011 in the Roosevelt Square public housing community. Last year, nearly 70 youth from the community assisted in the design and develop of the new site including the construction of a hoop house for year round production and 45 garden beds. South President's Court Garden in Grant Park: In June of 2012, Growing Power partnered with Chicago Park District and TruBlooms Fragrances to create a floral and herb garden of lavender, roses, and lilies to create a truly local perfume. Educare Garden (est. 2012) is located at 59th Street and South State Street, Chicago, IL 60621. Teaching garden for the preschool at Ounce of Prevention encompasses about 200 square feet with 10 beds, an herb spiral, and pumpkin patch. Beloved (est. 2012) is located at 78th Street and Racine Avenue, Chicago, IL 60620. This site will be transformed into a youth managed farm and market in the Englewood community. 3) Composting: Growing Power's Chicago chapter collects and composts food scraps from 15+ local restaurants creating healthy soil for our urban farms. In 2011, the Growing Power Chicago office composted over 460,000 pounds of food waste that would have otherwise been sent to local landfills. Growing Power is now picking up larger quantities of food scraps on a weekly basis including brewer's mash from micro breweries, such as Revolution Brewery and Piece Pizzeria. Growing Power Chicago hopes to transition to commercial level composting that would allow our organization to create thousands of yards of fertile compost a year while continuing to train individuals in urban agriculture, composting, and green energy. 4) Urban Growers' Aggregation Project: As a direct result of the work of the Chicago Food Policy Advisory Council (CFPAC), supported by Growing Power- Chicago, the city instituted urban agriculture friendly policy. As a result of this, an urban growers' aggregation project is in the process of planning that commits large retail stores, including Walgreens and ALDI, to buying as much as we are able to deliver local, community grown produce! That will be sold within the communities that have the least access. Growing Power-Chicago has been selected to be the aggregator and trainer for the other growers involved in this project. GPC will evaluate and ensure the quality of the produce grown and then package and distribute the product to the stores, train emerging urban farmers in production and post harvest handling and also refer growers to Technical Assistance and Capacity Building opportunities. It will provide incentive/training and economic development opportunities for folks seeking new employment, and as a leveraging tool for emerging food entrepreneurs from low-income communities, who are implementing innovative retail models. Upon successful implementation, this project will provide an assured market for hundreds of small-scale farmers in the area and can be replicated nationally. Farm-City Market Basket Program (FCMB): Growing Power provides hundreds of these CSA style baskets each week with the hope of increasing the distribution of healthy and fresh foods from local growers and wholesalers. Much of the produce comes from the Rainbow Farmers Cooperative, which Growing Power helped establish in 1993 with efforts to support and train approximately 300 small family farmers while giving them adequate market access in order to thrive. One of Farm-City Market Basket Program's current goals is to enhance this availability of fresh produce to 'food deserts' around the city, areas or neighborhoods that would normally not have such access to healthy food options. Growing Power Chicago Office currently coordinates 13 pick-up sites throughout the city to benefit from this weekly, year-round, food security program that supplies safe, healthy, affordable vegetables and fruit to these communities at a low cost ($16). In 2011, nearly 3,600 market baskets were distributed in Chicago, averaging at 300 market baskets per month. Farmers Markets: Growing Power is ensuring access to safe, healthy, affordable produce for hungry families, while at the same time supporting local sustainable agriculture. We participate in farmers' markets all over the city, including Green City Market, the 61st street market in Woodlawn and farm stands at our Iron Street Urban Farm, Altgeld Gardens Urban Farm, and Chicago Lights Urban Farm. In 2012, Growing Power has partnered with the City of Chicago to start five (5) new farmers' markets on the City's west-side, including food desert communities such as Ausitn, Garfield Park, and Humboldt Park.

Statistics on Growing Power - Chicago

Financial Statistics

  • Annual Budget for 2010: $2,852,048
  • Maximum Annual Budget: $2,852,048
  • Other funding sources: 30% private revenue (individuals, corporations, foundations), 25% government, 30% fee for service and income generating projects, 15% community contribution of labor/ gifts
  • Religious Affiliation: none
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