City of Chicago Announces Community Growers Program
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CHICAGO ~ Today, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) announced the launch of the Community Growers Program, a $2M investment in urban agriculture with the goal to increase food equity in communities with a history of disinvestment. The program is designed in partnership with the City of Chicago Food Equity Council and will be administered by NeighborSpace alongside a collective of partner organizations: Chicago Food Policy Action Committee (CFPAC), Community Food Navigator, DePaul Steans Center, Grow Greater Englewood, Advocates for Urban Agriculture, Urban Growers Collective, and Windy City Harvest.

The Community Growers Program seeks to reduce barriers to urban agriculture by providing access to land and water resources, technical support, and resources to build long-term sites. This program will create new food access points in neighborhoods experiencing food insecurity while also creating wealth-building opportunities for growers.

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"The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fragility of our food system and the inequities embedded within it," said Mayor Lightfoot. "Through the Community Growers Program, we will enable us to use our urban agriculture to create a more equitable and resilient food system and supply food insecure residents with healthy and abundant options."

NeighborSpace is a nonprofit urban land trust in Chicago that preserves and sustains gardens on behalf of dedicated community groups. They provide support for community gardens through property ownership, insurance, water stewardship, education tool lending project planning fundraising support troubleshooting and more so that community groups can focus on gardening and their community-building vision generating food beauty play health safety for their neighborhoods.

"This program builds on the work of countless farmers and gardeners who have been growing food in Chicago for generations by permanently expanding the footprint of urban agriculture in our City," said Ben Helphand Executive Director of NeighborSpace. "Importantly this program will target its support to those growers who have not previously had access to a lot of resources or institutional support."

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Anton Seals Jr., Lead Steward of Grow Greater Englewood added: "Grow Greater Englewood is proud to come together to collectively administer the Chicago Community Growers Program. There is so much pent-up demand for growing in our communities; this program will jump start several dozen grassroots growing operations increasing hyper local food access while building up small businesses."

The first round of applications are open until April 1st 2023 through which interested urban growers can apply for assistance at The Community Growers Program is part of the City's plan to create an equity-based investment strategy as part of its recovery from COVID-19 pandemic; holistic investment in communities hardest hit by the pandemic is paramount toward supporting equitable economic recovery across Chicago.

Filed Under: Government, City

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