Growing Access: Modeling a Community Based Food System with Urban Growers Collective
Our guest today is Laurell Sims, Co-Founder & CEO of Urban Growers Collective in Chicago, here to talk about food accessibility and the development of community-based food systems. Urban Growers Collective (UGC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that was co-founded by Laurell Sims and Erika Allen in the fall of 2017. Working closely with community partners, their approach is to demonstrate and to support communities in developing systems of their own where food is grown, prepared, and distributed within the community itself.
Urban Grower's Collective operates 8 urban farms on 11 acres of land, predominantly located on Chicago’s South Side. These farms are production-oriented but also offer opportunities for staff-led education, training, leadership development, and food distribution. Each farm utilizes organic growing methods, intensive growing practices, and year-round production strategies to best maximize growing space.
In this conversation, we talk about the numerous programs operating within UGC that are helping not only to bring food to underserved areas but to facilitate youth involvement and outreach programs for positive community impact.
Laurell is active in the Chicago Food Policy Action Council and formerly served on the Board of Directors for Slow Food Chicago and Green City Market. In 2011, Laurell was selected as a Bold Food Fellow, a State Department exchange with farmers from Uganda and Kenya, and has managed development projects with urban farms in Haiti. In her spare time, Laurell is a volunteer magician for Open Heart Magic which provides bedside magic for hospitalized children.
Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podchaser, Podtail, Youtube, or on your favorite podcast platform.
- How Laurell came to the Urban Grower's Collective
- ReVision Urban Farm in Boston
- The impact of the urban farming movement
- The eight farms and programs within in the Urban Grower's Collective
- Healing aspects of community spaces
- Fresh Moves Mobile Market
- Linkup Illinois for food assistance
- Dr. Geeta Maker-Clark
- Prescription for Health, Howard Brown Health Center
- Food Justice and privilege
- Food waste in Chicago
- How policy and racism affect grocery store access
- Farm Bus in Richmond, Mark Lilly
- Midwest Foods Wholesaler
- USDA Food boxes
- April Jones on The Good Dirt
- Julia Skinner on The Good Dirt
- The challenge of land access, particularly for BIPOC growers
- Green Era Urban Farm in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood in Chicago
- The anaerobic digester as mitigation for food waste
- Soil contamination and remediation
- Wasted! The Story of Food Waste
- Chicago Food Policy Action Council
Connect with Laurell & the UGC:
- Urban Grower's Collective website
- On Instagram @urbangrowerscollective
- Donate or Volunteer with the Urban Grower's Collective!
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Original music by John Kingsley. The Good Dirt podcast is edited and engineered by Aleksandra van der Westhuizen and produced by Mary Ball. The Good Dirt is a part of the Connectd Podcasts Network.
Statements in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not to be considered as medical or nutritional advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, and should not be considered above the advice of your physician. Consult a medical professional when making dietary or lifestyle decisions that could affect your health and well-being.