The Mobile Food Collective is a group of people who designed a mobile cultural center around food issues.
In pursuit of this traveling cultural center, they facilitate conversations about food—issues of access, education around how to grow your own, food story narratives, seed/recipe exchange, or simply sharing a meal together. They bring people to the table (or, literally, bring our table to the people).
The project was developed within Archeworks, an alternative design school where students work in multidisciplinary teams with nonprofit partners to create design solutions for social and environmental concerns. The Mobile Food Collective was a project devised as a public education campaign to inspire a rethinking of our relationship to food, emphasizing heritage, ownership, exchange, and connection.
The MFC is many things: an education/exchange platform for planting, growing and cooking; demonstrations and distribution of seeds, soil, compost, and produce; a space activator within a community event; or the centerpiece of a harvest dinner.
Physically, the MFC is a fleet of mobile structures. The larger mobile unit houses a harvest table and flexible storage cabinets that double as seats. At a smaller scale, there are bikes and trailers, equipped to carry the modular storage cabinets. The mobility of the project allows this dialogue to be constant and moveable—they can go where they are needed, bringing different things to different audiences, connecting different groups across a city, or around the world.
City Farm, a program of the Resource Center, is a farm designed to operate on city-owned vacant land with the capacity to move as soon as the land is sold for development. It sells primarily to restaurants, but also operates a seasonal market stand and recently started a CSA. It runs an After School Matters program in the summer.
City Farm is a sustainable vegetable farm bordering Cabrini-Green and the Gold Coast. The farm boasts thirty varieties of tomatoes as well as beets, carrots, arugula, gourmet lettuces, herbs and more. All produce is grown in composted soil generated from various sources, such as restaurant trimmings from some of the city’s finest kitchens.
See also: Resource Center
Filed under Agriculture, Beekeeping, Community Organizing, Community Space, Compost, Conservation/Green Space, Environmental Health, Farmers' Market, Food Desert, Healthy Food, Hoophouse, Job Training, Jobs, Local Food, Urban Farm, Volunteer, Youth
The Resource Center is has many programs including recycling, City Farm, the Creative Reuse Warehouse, perishable food recovery, and (formerly) Blackstone Bike Works.
For 35 years, the Resource Center, a non-profit environmental education organization, has led the way in demonstrating innovative techniques for recycling and reusing materials. Chicago’s first and largest non-porift recycler, the Resource Center operates four community drop-off sites and provides recycling collection services throughout the city.
With the cooperation of grocery stores and restaurants, the Resource Center collects food that they no longer wish to sell for various reasons; a recent expiration date, surplus stock, or damaged produce. Typical donations include slightly dented canned goods, lightly bruised fruit, and day old bread. They pick up donations from stores and deliver the food to homeless shelters and soup kitchens in the same neighborhood. Unique to their Perishable Food Recovery Program is that they are able to handle food that cannot be stored for a few days. They deliver food to the recipients immediately after the pick-up as opposed to gathering all the food, repackaging it, and distributing it a few days later. Additionally, they target small businesses who may not participate in larger food recovery programs because they dispose of small quantities of food.
Other programs include composting education and operations and garden assistance for Chicago residents.
They have been devoted from the beginning to the economic and educational revitalization of city neighborhoods through recycling, urban gardening, composting, and other programs that reclaim and reuse resources.
See also: City Farm
Filed under Agriculture, Community Organizing, Compost, Conservation/Green Space, CSA, Environmental Health, Farmers' Market, Food Pantry, Healthy Food, Hoophouse, Local Food, Recycling, Urban Farm
Slow Food Chicago seeks to create dramatic and lasting change in our local food system to ensure equity, sustainability and pleasure in the food we eat.
Slow Food is an educational non-profit with the goal of creating a world in which everyone can enjoy food that is good, clean and fair. Slow Food represents a growing movement of 18,000 members nationally, including over 3,000 supporters in the Chicago area. They seek fulfillment of our mission by 1) Connecting eaters to the Chicago region’s biodiverse and sustainable producers through organizational partnerships, publications, and social events; and 2) Increasing public awareness around the economic, environmental, political, and cultural impact of our eating through education, garden projects, and social events.
The Chicago Botanic Garden (CBG) is a 385-acre Garden featuring 24 display gardens and four natural areas, uniquely situated on nine islands surrounded by lakes. Their mission is to promote the enjoyment, understanding, and conservation of plants and the natural world.
At the Garden, you can take a course, attend a lecture, buy a gardening book, find 2.2 million garden plants, or have your mystery plant identified. Visitors to the CBG website can help themselves to detailed plant and gardening information.
The CBG also offers a series of internships and seasonal jobs for youth and adults. See Green Youth Farm and Windy City Harvest.
Filed under Agriculture, Blog/Forum/Online Resources, Community Garden, Community Space, Conservation/Green Space, Education for the Public, Job Training, Jobs, Leadership Development, Parks, Technical & Resource Assistance, Volunteer, Youth
The Green Youth Farm, a project of the Chicago Botanic Garden, offers students the opportunity to learn all aspects of organic farming — from planting seeds and starts to managing a hive of bees, from cooking with the food they grow to selling it at farmstands and markets (and to the Garden Café, where the chef incorporates the fresh organic produce into many menu items available to Chicago Botanic Garden visitors).
Students are paid a stipend for four hours per week in the spring and fall and 20 hours per week in the summer working at the farms, but the benefits they gain far outweigh the wages they earn. By the end of the season, participants have learned how to work together as a team, gained valuable job skills, discovered a whole new way to look at the food they eat, and grown their support system to include supervisors, program coordinators, legislators, and their fellow participants.
The one-acre farm in suburban North Chicago is located in the Greenbelt Forest Preserve off Green Bay Road. The quarter-acre site is in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, at 3555 West Ogden Avenue. An additional farm was added in 2009 — the Washington Park Farm at Dyett High School at 555 E. 51st Street added an additional three-quarters of an acre of growing space to the farms.
Finally, Chicago Public Schools has hosted one more Jr. Green Youth Farm since 2006, currently located at Helen J. McCorkle School at 4421 S. State Street. This Jr. Green Youth Farm serves 10 to 12 middle-school students after school and for a six-week program during the summer.
Good Food Jobs is a job-search tool for jobs and opportunities in various categories that intersect with the good food movement. The site also includes a blog that profiles the most interesting and unlikely food professionals that they can find, and publishes their stories to inspire you.