Black lives matter to Chicago Lights. 

Urban Farm

Our Urban Farm is a green oasis in the middle of a bustling city.

I have a passion for food and farming, and the internship at the Urban Farm helped me pursue a career in both.

Marlon came to the Urban Farm after rehabilitating from a gunshot wound and was ready to make changes in his life. After working as an Assistant Grower intern at our Urban Farm, he was hired at the Stein Learning Gardens at St. Sabina, where he helps provide education and community programs for residents of the South Side Gresham neighborhood.

We cultivate an engaged community through educational and employment opportunities and access to fresh, local, and sustainably grown produce.
Education

Education is at the root of our Urban Farm programming. Thanks to a partnership with After School Matters, high school students get their hands dirty—literally working the farm while gaining transferable job skills.
 Learn more. =

Internships

Getting work experience isn’t easy. Especially for young people with barriers to employment—like low-income, homelessness, past court involvement, chronic unemployment, or no high school diploma. Our Assistant Grower Internship helps young adults overcome these barriers and gain on-site training so they’re ready to take on their next job with confidence and expertise.
 Learn more. =

Community Garden

Want to grow your own food but don’t have the space? Get a plot at our Urban Farm. Community gardeners choose the foods they want to grow while getting support from our experts on staff. Be a part of our farm family while supporting local urban agriculture—it’s a win-win.  Learn more. =

Microenterprise

We’re a fully functioning farm—and we’ve got a bounty of produce to share. Our microenterprises not only provide healthy, local food to the community, but also give teens and young adults invaluable work experience.

CSA Salad Shares

Our weekly salad shares take the guesswork out of shopping for produce. During the growing season, members receive a bag of seasonal, sustainably grown food through our Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Learn More.=

Farmstand & Market

Get your favorite produce on-site at our Farmstand or at our market at Fourth Presbyterian Church. Choose from a wide variety of seasonal vegetables, herbs, and even flowers. When you get your food through the Urban Farm, you’re directly supporting our job-training programs and boosting the local economy. Learn More.=

HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION

Teens learn all the techniques central to growing food and maintaining an urban farm (watering, seeding, pruning, harvesting, compost making, working with power tools, etc.), customer service skills, nutrition and cooking knowledge, self-efficacy and responsibility, leadership, communication, and job skills, including resume writing and mock interviews. Students are paid a stipend through After School Matters.
Schedule

Due to COVID-19, the fall 2020 session is being held virtually, October 7-December 19.

Location

The fall 2020 session will be held virtually. Typically the program is on site at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm at 444 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago. Occasionally field trips take place off site.

Schedule Eligibility

Students in grades 9–12 who attend Chicago Public Schools are eligible.

Apply through afterschoolmatters.org by September 2, 2020!

For more information, email Director of the Urban Farm Ben Jaffe at bjaffe@chicagolights.org

Sign Up for Fall 2020 Youth Workforce Development: Deadline is 9/2!

Internship Program

General
Internships foster job-readiness skills (career preparation, knowledge of emerging industry needs, communication, critical thinking, decision-making, leadership, positive work habits) and on-site training (advanced urban agriculture techniques, crop planting and farm operations, market and wholesale account management, externship opportunities). Assistant Grower interns are paid an hourly wage.
Schedule

The Assistant Grower Internship will take place summer 2020. The position is part-time and hours vary.

Location
Chicago Lights Urban Farm, 444 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago

Student Eligibility

Applicants must be between the ages of 18–26; face one or more barriers to employment (have no/low income and/or receive public assistance; have previously experienced homelessness or be in supportive or transitional housing; have prior court-involvement or juvenile adjudications; be chronically under/unemployed; be without a GED or high school diploma; and/or be an emancipated foster care youth); and have interest in urban agriculture and gardening.

Community Garden

Eligibility

Community garden plots are full for the 2020 season.

Plots are available to community members living or organizations operating within a five-block radius of the Farm (east to LaSalle St., south to Ohio St., west to Halsted Ave., north to Division St.). Community gardeners are encouraged to become involved in our Urban Farm through volunteering and helping maintain communal plots.

Fee & What’s Included
Your Community Gardener membership is $100 (additional donations are always welcome!), plus a mandatory five hours of Saturday volunteer work throughout the growing season. This includes a 3-foot by 9-foot plot (27 square feet of growing area) filled with organic soil, communal garden supplies (tools, compost), water access, and technical support.

Gardeners are responsible for their own seeds, plants (get yours at our spring plant sale!), and personal garden tools. This is a communal space, so outside soil and fertilizers are prohibited without express permission from Urban Farm staff.

Our community gardeners attend orientation, where we’ll help you learn the basics of gardening.

Our staff is also available throughout the growing season to answer any questions and provide support.

We want everyone to be able to garden. Gardeners who are unable to pay the entire membership fee can supplement by volunteering additional hours at the Farm (10 volunteer hours = $100).

CSA Salad Share

What’s Included

CSA salad shares are full for the 2020 season. 

A salad share is a weekly selection of seasonal produce that usually makes one to two meals or salads for one to two people. Each week has a $15 to $20 value and includes seven to eight items. Depending on your share selection, the weekly bag may include vegetables, eggs, and fruit. Each year we strive to incorporate customer feedback into the crops we grow and the share options that we offer. Each item is thoughtfully selected, creating a well-rounded batch of produce to use in your meal prep throughout the week.

Our CSA members know where and how their food is grown and who grows it. Most of your CSA produce is grown on site at our Urban Farm. You may also choose to receive eggs and fruits that are sourced from local farms who follow National Organic Program practices and aim to farm sustainably. While you cannot select which vegetables you receive each week, we include a diversity of crops over the course of the season. Examples include the following:

Summer
Lettuce, arugula, spinach, zucchini/summer squash, cherry tomatoes, salad turnips, beets, radishes, kale, swiss chard, onions, etc.
Late Summer & Fall
Kale, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, salad turnips, beets, zucchini/summer squash, butternut squash, scallions, onions, herbs, swiss chard, watermelons, cantaloupe, etc.
Membership Benefits
As a CSA member, you will:
– Receive seasonal weekly vegetables and fruits grown on our farm and other local farms.
– Know where and how your food is grown and who grows it.
– Receive a weekly newsletter with recipes, upcoming produce, and education about farm programs and practices.
– Receive discounts on purchases at the Urban Farm’s Farmstand.
– Directly benefit your local community by supporting open, green spaces and boosting the local economy.
Pick-Up & Delivery Schedule

Shares for members are available to pick up on Fridays, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Urban Farm. Delivery is an option if you live or work in the delivery zone (east to Lake Michigan, west to Chicago River, north to Division, south to Ohio) or choose Fourth Presbyterian Church (Chestnut and North Michigan Avenue) as a delivery location.

Share Options

2020 CSA SALAD SHARES ARE FULL.

Sponsor a bag instead for a family with a low-income or visit our Farmstand on Fridays. See below for details.

We have limited availability this year because we are making it a priority to get more of our produce to individuals and families with a low income in the community. A small portion of your share helps offset that cost.

Full-Season Share

20 weeks of salad shares, June 19–November 6
Includes eggs and fruit on alternating weeks

Reduced-Price Share

$200; You may qualify for our Reduced-Price Share (RPS) if you and/or your family qualify for Illinois SNAP benefits. If you already receive a monthly LINK Card or WIC Farmers Market Coupons, then you may sign up for our RPS.

Reduced-Price Share: Pay as You Go

Contact Ben Jaffe at bjaffe@chicagolights.org.

Sponsor a Bag: Sliding Scale

Consider adding $50-$100 onto your membership share price to help a family with a low income enjoy the same fresh produce you do each week! You can be a part of the Chicago Lights Urban Farm’s mission to alleviate the effects of poverty while also helping generate revenue for programs. Many people in the Near North/Cabrini-Green neighborhood would love fresh produce from the Urban Farm but can’t afford it. When you sponsor a CSA, you’ll know that it goes directly towards putting fresh produce in the hands of a family near the Urban Farm. See the sign-up link below for more information.

2020 CSA IS FULL!

Farmstand

Schedule

The Farmstand is open on Fridays, 1:00–5:00 p.m, now through October 30.

Location

Chicago Lights Urban Farm, 444 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
Visitors are required to wear face masks and socially distance while on site.

The Fourth Church Market

Schedule

Due to COVID-19, the Fourth Church market is currently suspended.

General

Produce varies based on the season, but items may include lettuce, spicy greens, kale, swiss chard, scallions, onions, peas, beans, radishes, salad turnips, squash and zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, heirloom large tomatoes, sweet peppers, beets, spinach, okra, basil, cilantro, dill, mint, flower bouquets, and more.

History

Overview

The Chicago Lights Urban Farm started as a community garden in 2003. It sprung out of a long-standing relationship between Fourth Presbyterian Church and residents of Cabrini-Green. The community garden, through a collaboration with Growing Power, was a ministry of the church until it became one of the five programs of Chicago Lights (the nonprofit of Fourth Presbyterian Church) in 2009. The garden transitioned to an Urban Farm in 2010 as part of a community decision-making process. Community residents wanted more jobs for teens and young adults and more produce available for those that didn’t want to garden.

Neighborhood Background

The entire Urban Farm grows on top of the asphalt! It acts as a natural cap, but historically, the space was a place where Cabrini-Green residents would gather, typically for basketball games and tournaments.

The Farm is located on the south end of the Cabrini-Green community in view of the original 1942 rowhouses. Cabrini-Green was a Chicago Housing Authority public housing complex that occupied close to 70 acres of land. The Rowhouses, named after St. Francis Cabrini, were built in 1942 and meant to house individuals with low incomes. The Cabrini Homes Extension (red mid-rises) were built in 1957. The Green Homes (white high-rises), named after William Green (president of the American Federation of Labor), were built in 1962. In its heyday, the community had upwards of 15,000 residents.

This community demonstrates how social policies and a lack of city investment can affect the health of a community. Over the years, city divestment, social policies that separated families, and neglect led to poor living conditions. The neighborhood may have received more bad press in its day because of its location next to the high-income and predominately White neighborhood of the Gold Coast. But the Cabrini-Green community was also a place for families to grow, clubs to take place and community to be built. There are many examples of the positive aspects of the community that were present despite the lack of press these got in the public eye, including dances in the basements of buildings where people dressed their best, basketball tournaments, block party cookouts, church clubs for kids and teens, and much much more.

In 1997, the Chicago Housing Authority announced its Plan for Transformation with the goal of changing Cabrini-Green into a mixed-income community. Although the last high-rises were demolished in 2011, a population of residents still remain in the rowhouses (176 units that were renovated) and among many of the new buildings in this community.

The Chicago Lights Urban Farm land was secured by Fourth Presbyterian Church as a way to provide programming for residents, a space to bridge community, and a place to give voice to those who feel as those theirs do not matter. The land was sold to the CHA in 2013, but the Farm continues to work along-side the community to fulfill its shared goals.

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