New Fall 2019 FLO Grants

November 1, 2019

New FLO projects address innovative food and farmer training and education and promote regenerative farming practices:

Farm to Hospital Supply Chain

Basil’s Harvest primarily works in supply chain development for regenerative foods and experiential education for health and culinary professionals and farmers.

Healthy Food Hub

Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living is dedicated to enhancing the education, training and facilitation of the local food system value chain from Pembroke to Chicago.


We are pleased to announce renewal funding for the following projects in Fall 2019:

Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance

The Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance (FPFA) connects small, local farmers through a network of farm-based hubs to distribute and market their products.

Fresh Taste

Fresh Taste is a funder initiative focused on re-localizing the food system in the Chicago foodshed, and improving equity of access to good food (healthy, green, fair and affordable).

South Cook County Land Access

NeighborSpace will identify ways to transition underutilized land in south Cook County for sustainable urban agriculture.

Farm 2 Neighbor Program

Top Box Foods and This Old Farm partner on a food distribution corporate delivery model to bring locally-sourced protein into Chicago’s corporate and institutional workplaces.

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FLO Grants Funded in Spring 2019

October 15, 2019

FLO projects address innovative food and farmer training, land access and promote regenerative farming practices:

Transformative Farmer Training and Education

The McHenry County College is providing educational opportunities for farmer entrepreneurs through their Center for Agrarian Learning (CAL) and a new degree program in Entrepreneurial Agriculture.


We are pleased to announce that the following projects received renewal funding in Spring 2019:

Urban Growers Certification Program

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is a membership organization that joins individuals, organizations and businesses to support and expand urban growing in Chicago, including home and community-based gardens and small farms.

Angelic Organics Learning Center

Angelic Organics Learning Center provides educational programs for more than 5,000 people each year through programs at partner farms and urban growing sites.

Developing Capacity for Regenerative Farming

ReGenerate IL is a coordinating space and coalition bringing together a diverse group of people who believe in the power of regeneration to restore soil health, store carbon, protect water quality and enhance biodiversity in the state of Illinois.

Artisan Grain Collaborative

The Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) is developing a grain hub system to bring new, artisan, food-grade crop varieties into Chicago markets.

Good Food Accelerator

The Good Food Accelerator (GFA), developed by FamilyFarmed, supports food businesses in the Chicago foodshed through mentoring, business planning and access to capital.

Land Access Project
Liberty Prairie Foundation (LPF) and its partners works to identify strategies to connect landowners and local food farmers, test land tenure leasing agreements with public and private landholders, and further build a pipeline of beginning and second-career farmers.

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Innovative Financing for the Local Food Ecosystem

April 8, 2019


Submission deadline: April 26, 2019 at 5:00 pm CT

FLO announced today that it is launching an effort to seek out and support innovative financing in Chicago's local food system. FLO has long recognized the importance of deploying adequate capital in the local and sustainable food system. Recent research by FLO on the region's financing landscape uncovered select gaps in the availability of short-term financing for local, sustainable food enterprises. Early and growth stage producers, distributors, processors and retailers, for example, often struggle with meeting various short-term capital needs. FLO aims to fill a portion of this capital gap by working with partners to unlock the financing needed of established businesses within the local food ecosystem to allow their businesses, as well as the sector, to grow.

FLO is looking to engage with one or more financial intermediaries that are interested in extending the reach of their current products and services or designing a new financial instrument targeted to early and growth stage local food businesses in need of short-term capital. FLO will deploy up to $1.0 million to one or two partners in the form of a recoverable grant. Partners will be selected through a two-phase process. Details including eligibility requirements, submission requirements, key dates and frequently asked questions, can be found by downloading the Request for Letters of Interest.

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New FLO Grants Announced

February 12, 2019

New FLO projects will address land access and promote regenerative farming practices:

Accelerating Regenerative Livestock Production and Value Chains in Illinois

This project will examine the current state of the Illinois grass-fed beef and dairy sector with the end goal of creating scenarios to develop a stronger grass-based livestock economy.

Coalition Building to Remove Policy Barriers to Local Food Economy Growth

An overarching goal of FLO is to reduce fragmentation in the local food movement. This project looks to unite key stakeholders to increase the amount of land available for sustainable agriculture and local food.

Illinois Farmland Conservation Initiative

This project will bring new financial resources to increase land access in the peri-urban areas of the Chicago regional food system.

Reaching Climate Resilience

This initiative looks to accelerate climate resilience strategies by promoting regenerative practices for agriculture.


We are pleased to announce that the following projects received renewal funding in Winter 2019: 

Englewood Village Farms

Grow Greater Englewood is leading the development of Englewood Village, an urban farm initiative that includes the creation of a plaza that will host a demonstration farm and connect to the Englewood trail.

Farm On Ogden Development (F.O.O.D)

F.O.O.D, one of the finalists in the 2016 Food to Market Challenge, continues its efforts to connect sustainably produced food in Chicago through its food hub on Ogden.

Food Scrap Compost Market-building

Seven Generations Ahead is demonstrating how the food scrap composting industry can drive economic development and protect natural resources.

Routes 2 Farm

The consortium of farmer alliances plans to launch a marketing campaign to raise consumer awareness about the benefits of buying local, sustainable foods.


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Chicago Local Food System Study Released

November 15, 2018

Food:Land:Opportunity is pleased to announce the release of the Chicago Local Food System Study: An Analysis of Opportunity for Local Foods, which sets a baseline of the capacity of the Chicago region to satisfy the demand for local food. The study is presented in the form of a website, organized in five parts: an economic analysis of various growth scenarios and benefits of sustainably produced local produce and grains; a policy and program scan to understand how regulations and programs currently drive and deter the local food movement; a strategy to measure the ecosystem services provided by on-farm practices in the local food system; a review of the various studies, articles and resources on food system planning and policy; and a set of conclusions and recommendations. View the study online.

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New FLO Projects Focus on Land Access and Food Distribution

October 10, 2018

Land Trusts, Land Access and Local Food
The Land Conservancy of McHenry County will lead a project to explore agricultural easements as a means for securing land for farming.

South Cook County Land Access
NeighborSpace will partner with the Chicago Food Policy Action Council to transition land in south Cook County for sustainable agriculture. Funding will also allow NeighborSpace to continue their land access work in the Englewood neighborhood.

Farm to Neighbor Program
Top Box Foods and This Old Farm developed a food distribution program tapping an existing supply chain serving Chicago schools. Now they are partnering again to bring local and sustainable protein to employees of large corporate and institutional workplaces.
We are also pleased to announce renewal funding for one of the finalist projects of the 2016 Food to Market Challenge: Dream Distributors, the local food aggregation and processing hub continues its efforts to connect local farmers with institutions in Kane County. Renewal funding will allow them to develop necessary readiness programs targeting farmers, institutional buyers and food hub operators.
Update on Catalyzing Conservation Grazing in the Chicago Foodshed
Earlier this year, Food:Land:Opportunity provided funding to Openlands to explore the possible conversion of an approximately 265-acre former golf course in McHenry County, Illinois into a large-scale, sustainable grazing operation. Results from a soil sampling, performed as part of the due diligence, led Openlands to determine that the property was unsuitable for a sustainable grazing operation. Read about the process, actions and lessons learned in their report.

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Liberty Prairie Foundation Launches Website for Local Food

July 13, 2018

Liberty Prairie Foundation has launched a new website to help people in Lake County find locally grown food. Grow Lake County is designed to make it easier for people to find and purchase local food, find tips and local resources to help them grow their own food, learn about the local food movement in Lake County and about what is happening in their community, and find ways to get involved.


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Two New Projects Funded through Food:Land:Opportunity

July 2, 2018

New projects funded through FLO will support urban growers and promote regenerative farming practices in Illinois:

Urban Growers Certification Program
Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) will develop a certification program for urban growers to elevate and scale the success of urban agriculture. AUA will focus on providing necessary technical assistance to growers on city land.

Developing Capacity for Regenerative Farming
ReGenerate IL and the IDEA Farm Network will bring about systems to regenerate soil, water and biodiversity in Illinois, while creating local food options and economic opportunities for farmers. 

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FLO Grantees in the News!

June 28, 2018

Food to Market Challenge finalist and recent grantee, Farm on Ogden (F.O.O.D) officially opened its doors this past weekend. The project brings local food, health and wellness programs, and job training together in one location. Their story was featured in the Chicago Tribune, on WTTW's Chicago Tonight and WGN News.

Shelly Herman, representing the Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance, was recently featured on local news giving tips on how to keep fruits and veggies fresh during the summer. Another one of our Challenge finalists, the Alliance is distributing and marketing products through a network of farm-based aggregation hubs near Chicago.

And Seven Generations Ahead recently consulted on the development of a compost pilot project at the Lake County jail, where approximately 80 percent of the total waste stream at the prison is food waste and six percent is recyclable materials. Currently, all waste goes to the building’s compactor, which results in higher costs for frequent pick-ups and more volume entering landfills.

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New Projects Funded through Food:Land:Opportunity

February 21, 2018

Englewood Community Farms
Grow Greater Englewood (GGE) has been a core community partner in FLO's Urban Pathways project. Leveraging this experience, GGE will develop a business model for Englewood Community Farms, a for-profit farming enterprise. The goal is to establish farming enterprises through cooperative business models that include land tenure agreements and identification and remediation of appropriate parcels for farming.

Catalyzing Conservation in the Chicago Foodshed
Openlands will develop a project to convert a 200-plus acre property in McHenry County into a large-scale sustainable grazing operation. Previously, Food:Land:Opportunity funded Openlands and Liberty Prairie Foundation to explore viable land access strategies. The grazing project will illustrate the potential economic and environmental benefits of sustainable grazing while bringing locally-raised, grass-fed proteins to the Chicago market.

Food Scrap Compost Market-building
Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) has received renewal funding for its project to scale the local food scrap composting industry in the region. As a result of FLO-supported research and pilot projects, SGA is leading composting projects with institutions, educating policymakers and helping to promote composting for economic development.

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Contact program staff or sign up to receive email updates. Please note: staff is working remotely with access to email and phone services. For the quickest response, please e-mail us rather than calling or sending physical mail.

Kinship Foundation

Lenore Beyer
Director of Conservation Initiatives

The Chicago Community Trust

Michael Davidson
Senior Director - Community Impact

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