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COMMUNITY

SUPPORTED

AGRICULTURE

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Meet us at our farm stands for high-quality produce while supporting essential programs for young adults with autism and related challenges.

 

ONSITE FARM STAND

(2200 W. Campbell Park Drive)

From May 15 - November 1

Wednesdays 10 am - 2 pm

Fridays 2 pm - 6 pm

OLD POST OFFICE

(433 W. Van Buren Street)

Dates: May 16, June 13, July 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 12, Oct. 10

11:00 am - 2:00 pm

GROWING SOLUTIONS FARM

Growing Solutions Farm is a 1.2-acre produce farm located in the Illinois Medical District -- just steps away from Stroger Hospital, Rush Medical Center and the Jesse Brown VA Hospital -- where Chicago public high school transition students (16-22 years old) with autism and related challenges gain vocational skills as they work at the farm.

 

Students learn how to harvest food and develop skills in food safety and sanitation, build raised beds, prepare soil, tend compost piles and harvest and prepare food for sale at our farm stands while practicing important transferrable job skills like following directions, communicating effectively with co-workers and supervisors, and managing and completing tasks.

 

During the school year, about 50 West Side students work at the farm. During the summer, the farm hosts 20-25 students in the One Summer Chicago jobs program. These students work at the farm and get paid by the City of Chicago.

Produce grown at the farm is sold at weekly on-site farm and community stands and to restaurants and wholesalers. The farm also offers an eight-box CSA subscription. Proceeds from these sales directly support our vocational programming at the farm.

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Approximately ninety percent of students who participate in activities at the farm are from low-income families at or below the federal poverty level and experience food insecurity. Every week during the growing season, these students take home a bag of fresh, nutritious produce from the farm. Growing Solutions Farm also donates 20 percent of its harvest each week to Grace Seeds Ministry, which distributes it to food pantries on the West Side of Chicago.

The farm launched in 2013 as a pilot program consisting of a 900-square foot growing plot. That year, we welcomed students from West Side public high schools to work at the farm. Realizing that we wanted to offer our farm experience to more young adults with autism and related challenges, we pursued additional land to increase the footprint of the farm.

Today the farm has close to 7,000 square feet of growing space and has allowed us to provide more consistent, intensive vocational training opportunities.

In 2021, the Windy City Lions Club funded and installed a sensory garden at Growing Solutions Farm. Plants in the garden have a heightened appeal to the senses: sight, sound, touch, taste and smell. The sensory garden is a place people with -- and without -- autism can go to engage in ways that are less stressful than socializing.

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In 2021, the Windy City Lions Club helped fulfill our goal of creating a sensory garden at Growing Solutions Farm. With their support and amazing volunteers, the first plants were installed in May of 2021. 

In 2022, NEXT for AUTISM provided additional

funding to help expand the sensory garden and put in a new palate of plants for visitors to enjoy. With the help of volunteers from the Windy City Lions Club, more than 150 new plants went into the garden in May of 2022. ​

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