Community Growers: Food Equity


The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the food inequality issues experienced by many in low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. Because of this, the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) has created the Community Growers Program. The City of Chicago seeks to reduce barriers for urban agriculture by increasing land access to growers through City-owned vacant land on the City’s land sale platform, ChiBlockBuilder. BACP is excited to announce the Urban Agriculture Land Access Program. The purpose of this Urban Agriculture Land Access Program is to support land access for projects led by experienced growers, that show a commitment to growing edible produce for community and long-term stewardship of the land. Selected applicants will be notified in December 2023, and the land transfer process will begin in early 2024. Successful applicants will have sufficient financial and staff resources to begin growing operations in Spring / Summer 2024.  Visit Urban Agriculture Land Access Program to see the land parcels available. 

 
Through this program, BACP and partner agency NeighborSpace expect to reduce the barriers to urban agriculture by supporting urban growers with access to land, resources to build long-term sites, and technical support. This program will increase equitable community-access to healthy foods by creating new food access points in neighborhoods experiencing food insecurity. Through the Community Growers Program, the grant awardees will be growing produce that will be available for purchase on-site and at local farmers markets, helping make fresh food more accessible in communities with limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. 

 
As the lead delegate agency of the Community Growers Program, NeighborSpace will provide grants and ongoing technical assistance to growers, understand the specific needs of each project site, and provide the appropriate guidance. This support includes assisting new and existing agriculture businesses with infrastructure and/or other resources: water hydrant installations, environmental assessments and land remediation, activation of vacant lots into productive urban agriculture sites, capacity building projects, and providing technical support and guidance with business management.  

 

The following partner agencies will be collaborating with NeighborSpace to make this program happen: 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. 

 Community GrowersHow to Participate: 
The first round of applications for the Community Growers Program has closed. Applications will reopen for future opportunities in Autumn 2023. More information will be available soon. 

  
Questions: 
Questions may be emailed to: communitygrowers@neighbor-space.org