Funded projects

Grants • Learning and Evaluation Investments

Food to Market Challenge

$500,000 award to the multidisciplinary team that designs the most innovative solution to re-conceive supply chain practices that today limit scale of the local food market.

Team Leverage: Bringing it Home

Access to local, sustainably produced food is limited by the many inefficiencies that exist in the current supply chain. Food producers are particularly challenged to reach populations in underserved communities, where access to grocery stores and healthy food markets is limited. The result: farmers and their consumers never connect. Team Leverage looks to solve this problem by connecting a local farm network with two Chicago companies that currently move local food into schools. The solution leverages existing customers, partners, a distribution system, and a technology platform to create a lasting, sustainable supply chain between those who produce local, healthy foods and the consumers who want to purchase them.

Artisan Grain Collaborative

The Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) is launching a grain hub to bring new, artisan, food-grade crop varieties into Chicago markets. If a sufficient market can be created for these new grains, the region will see not only increased land in sustainable food production, but also an increased supply of high quality, nutritious grains. The crops being targeted by the Collaborative will result in more regenerative agriculture practices that will protect soil and water health; lead to stronger local food businesses and farms; and generate a model that can be adapted for use by other regions.

Farm On Ogden Development

The Farm on Ogden is an 18,000 square foot urban food hub and training center located on Chicago’s west side. Farm on Ogden Development (F.O.O.D.) will use a systemic approach to link important partners, including an incubator-based farmer training program, growers, healthcare providers, an urban developer, distributors and consumers to increase the distribution of local food in Chicago. F.O.O.D. addresses challenges around food, health and jobs, which often exist in low-income neighborhoods.

F.O.O.D will establish a food hub to aggregate small farmers’ harvests and provide needed refrigerated storage, processing and transportation as well as support services for business development. New farm sites, including graduated incubator space, will provide land to launch farm businesses. Producers will also have access to a commercial kitchen to develop value added product. The project will create new, reliable distribution channels and awareness of local food through its health partnerships and the VeggieRx program, which provides low-income patients with prescription produce from local farmers. Grant funds will enable F.O.O.D to purchase necessary equipment and supplies such as hoop houses; a refrigerated truck, seeds, and tools; and will cover food safety certification costs and start-up funds for its incubator farmers.

Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance

The Fresh Picks Farmer Alliance (FPFA) is addressing how small local farmers distribute and market products through a network of farm-based aggregation hubs located near interstate highways leading to Chicago. The hubs use an innovative approach to aggregate crops from neighboring farms and leverage existing structures to store and stage crops for regular truck pickups, reducing shipping costs. The Alliance is a collaborative of farmers, businesses and nonprofits, anchored by a distribution and marketing partner who is contributing an existing warehouse, refrigeration facilities, information technology, marketing, and a delivery fleet. Grant funds will help upgrade hub infrastructure, such as forklifts, wash tanks, and cooler spaces, and support marketing and training, all of which are critical to meet the demands of the wholesale buyer.

Dream Distributors

Dream Distributors is launching a new local food aggregation and processing hub in Kane County. The privately operated food hub will aggregate produce for wholesale purchasers; process produce for schools and other institutions; expand a farm to institution program to educate kids about nutrition and local foods; facilitate wholesale readiness training programs for growers; create a subscription box program for SNAP benefit users; and work directly with the region’s farmers to coordinate crop planning and harvesting. Grant funds will support enterprise planning and launch activities, including technical support for business planning and the purchase of food processing machinery or other vital equipment.

Eat to Live Incubator Farm

This is one of three projects in Englewood designed to increase the number of Englewood community members who are eligible and qualified to access and farm on land within the Englewood Urban Agriculture Zone by supporting capacity-building of Grow Greater Englewood and programming for the Eat to Live Incubator Farm.

Englewood Land Access Project

This is one of three projects in Englewood designed to increase the number of Englewood community members who are eligible and qualified to access and farm on land within the Englewood Urban Agriculture Zone by investigating cooperative business models that include land tenure agreements and identifying appropriate parcels for farming.

Englewood Community Farms

This project will support the development of a business model for Englewood Community Farms, a for-profit farming enterprise in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood. The project will include securing land for farming, training for farm businesses, and establishing an organizational structure to deliver a sustainable and profitable model for community farming.

Land Access Pilot Project

Over the course of three years, this project will investigate and demonstrate scalable models for land acquisition and tenure for sustainable agriculture in peri-urban settings.

Catalyzing Conservation Grazing in the Chicago Foodshed

This project will convert a 200-plus acre, private property site in McHenry County, Illinois into a large-scale, sustainable grazing operation and a hub for grazing education and networking. Openlands will pursue a creative land acquisition strategy to assist an experienced grazier establish an environmentally sustainable and profitable livestock operation. Concurrently, data will be collected on land and water health to illustrate the conservation value of rotational grazing practices. The project will demonstrate economic and environmental benefits, while increasing the supply of locally-raised, grass-fed proteins to the Chicago market.

Good Food Business Accelerator

This project provides selected Fellows with mentoring, strategic support, and access to capital to launch and expand profitable Good Food businesses.

Food Scrap Compost Market-building

This project scales the local food scrap composting industry to build healthy soil, conserve water, protect water quality and sequester carbon. It will create demand for food scraps through education, policy and pilot projects, while driving infrastructure development and targeted investments. Building on previous work to increase institutional composting systems, Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) will implement food scrap composting at 14 Chicago Public School (CPS) sites and provide training to universities and hospitals on specific elements of food scrap diversion programs. To encourage municipal curbside food scrap composting programs, SGA will develop a how-to guide for implementation. The project will also explore the viability of the production and use of liquid compost made from food scraps from grocery outlets through on-farm testing and research.

Routes 2 Farm

This project will expand and link existing growers networks and alliances in order to more efficiently distribute information about training programs and sources of capital.

Strategic Learning and Evaluation Framework

Rooted in the initiative’s Theory of Change, Food:Land:Opportunity will pursue ongoing learning, evaluation, and research activities to adapt to the changing needs of the field, measure the effectiveness of the initiative’s interventions, and broadly distribute findings in order to contribute to positive systemic change.

Supply-side Food Systems Study

This study will inventory existing local food market conditions to prepare for developing an economic model to assess the Chicago region’s capacity for supplying more local food. A report on phase 1 of this study is expected to deliver in June 2016.


Contact program staff or sign up to receive email updates.

Kinship Foundation

Lenore Beyer
Director of Conservation Programs

The Chicago Community Trust

Michael Davidson
Senior Program Officer

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