Laurell Sims

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.

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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.