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Farming & Food Distribution
We’re a fully functioning farm—and we’ve got a bounty of produce to share. Our micro-enterprise not only provides healthy, local food to the community, but also gives teens and young adults invaluable work experience, building skills they’ll need to transcend systemic barriers in their education and careers. This helps make our community stronger! Support our young people by visiting our Farm Stand. Learn more.
Farmstand & Market Vouchers
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. Students are paid a stipend through After School Matters.
Typically, on site at the Chicago Lights Urban Farm
444 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago on Tuesdays & Thursdays
On site at the Fourth Presbyterian Church
126 E Chestnut St., Chicago on Wednesdays
Occasional field trips off-site may occur with prior notice
APPLY THROUGH AFTER SCHOOL MATTERS
Registration for 2023 garden plots is now closed.
Check back in late-March 2024 to apply to garden with us next year.
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.
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. We want everyone to be able to garden. Plots are available for free to SNAP-eligible neighborhood residents. Please contact Director Pax Suggs with any questions: email@example.com.
*Registering doesn’t guarantee you a spot. Farm staff will be in touch about next steps once you register.
Our work is based in the community. In addition to offering garden plots, we offer volunteering, host events and classes, donate our produce, partner with local schools and a health clinic.
If you’d like to partner with us, contact Pax Suggs: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schedule & Location
Saturdays, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
June 24th – October 28th, 2023
Chicago Lights Urban Farm
444 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago
Market Voucher Program
Sponsor Food for a Family
You can be a part of the Chicago Lights Urban Farm’s mission to alleviate food insecurity and support the local community. Sponsor a share of fresh, local produce for a family living in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood.
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 four programs of Chicago Lights 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.
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. 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 though 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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Every dollar you give goes directly toward empowering youth in need.