In May 2020, Chicago Grows Food (CGF), a collaborative of nearly a dozen individuals, school-based organizations, university partners, and non-profit organizations, launched the Grow Your Groceries Grow Kit program, which provides a reusable fabric grow bag, soil, seeds or a seedling, and an educational booklet, to address the growing food insecurity in Chicago due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Chicago Grows Food continues the Grow Your Groceries Grow Kit program and have expanded to include customized Home Garden Installations, one on one technical support, and educational workshops.
Chicago Grows Food is a collaborative project devoted to expanding and unifying the food growing community in Chicagoland. Our mission is to creatively connect advocates for safe and environmentally-conscious food production, land stewardship, food access, food security and nutrition to catalyze and sustain equitable and holistic health outcomes for the communities of Chicago.
By reducing barriers to gardening, Chicago Grows Food hopes to increase access to fresh produce, reduce food insecurity and the financial burden of procuring fresh, healthy produce, and improve health equity.
Robert Johnson, Peter Hoy, Marjorie Kersten
Born and raised in Chicago, Elizabeth has experience with supporting capacity building for nonprofits across Colorado, teaching nutrition, cooking, and gardening, and a Master’s in Public Health. She is excited to share her knowledge of educational programming, her experience building collaborative systems, and her passion for food justice in this role.
As a democratic collaborative working towards food sovereignty through individual grow kits and home garden installations, we recognize white supremacy as the cause of systemic barriers that exist for growers of color. We are committed to reducing these barriers by providing opportunities for food production and by fighting for economic and social justice. We believe that by empowering individuals and communities to grow their own food, we can create a more just and equitable food system that benefits all.
Chicago Grows Food ensures our efforts are informed with an antiracism and social justice lens in the following ways:
- Our programs are developed collaboratively to be accessible and free from oppression for those interested in gardening. One way we do this is by striving to offer materials and resources for free in both English and Spanish.
- We combat systematic oppression by creating opportunities to grow groceries at home for those most likely to face food insecurity reducing the burden of accessing healthy food.
- The collaboration within the organization strengthens the impact and reach of our efforts by ensuring the participant communities have representation and a voice.
- We are a diverse group of people who share our commitment to antiracism as defenders of soil, plants, and the earth, and believe that our efforts are part of a larger movement towards a more just and equitable world.
- Our programs are designed to build the skills and knowledge of the participants so they are better equipped for managing their own gardens and educating others.
- We recognize that many of the barriers Chicago city gardeners need to address are rooted in white supremacy and we understand that silence is not an option. We need to make space for all to be heard, participate in decision making, and lead.