June 15, 2018

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) receives major funding from The Chicago Community Trust to support urban farm operations to become market ready and meet best practices

Contact: Nick Lucas, Programs Manager, 773-850-0428, outreach@auachicago.org

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is pleased to announce that it is has received a Food: Land: Opportunity Initiative grant to develop a technical assistance and certification program, in partnership with the city of Chicago and Chicago farmers. Funded through the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Food:Land:Opportunity is a collaboration between Kinship Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust.

photo 4 “This exciting opportunity will enable AUA to provide accessible and critical technical assistance to support urban farmers in scaling up their operations, becoming more financially sustainable, and preparing for new market opportunities,” says Executive Director, Laura Calvert. “We also look forward to partnering with urban farmers and the city of Chicago to establish best practices around urban agriculture, which can serve as a local and national model.”

Since 2002, AUA has represented the collective interests and needs of Chicago area urban farmers through educational resources, hands-on public programming, community outreach, and policy advocacy.  With a Board composed of urban agriculture professionals and local food system leaders, AUA became an independent 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2016. The organization has more than 2,000 individual and organizational members, support from multiple Chicago-area philanthropies, and services designed to help Chicago develop a strong, sustainable and inclusive food system based on local production and value.

The new technical assistance and certification program is a multi-year initiative designed to answer the request by many farmers – both start-up and in operation — for subject area training and support in building their marketplace viability. The AUA program will address these needs through peer mentorship, customized workshops, and through a voluntary certification program that establishes best practices around soil remediation, food safety, sustainable growing practices, and community engagement.

Year One goals of the grant are to hire a Training Programs Manager, convene a working group of peer farmers who will advise AUA on program structure and farmer engagement, and initiate training classes and development of the certification program.  Workshops and certificates will be based on existing best practices and standards as well as local, county and state licensing and regulations. Research will ensure that the certifications include standards important across the spectrum of farm products and buyers: for those growing for retail sale, wholesale to institutional buyers, as well as value-added products.

Meanwhile, AUA will continue to serve as the hub for urban agriculture in Chicago. Its 2,300+ subscriber listserv is the largest forum dedicated to urban agriculture topics in the city; free AUA organized events such as the annual Urban Livestock Expo provide inspiring, community-based educational opportunities; and resources like the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project (CUAMP) play indispensable roles connecting the local food system. The mapping project, an ongoing collaboration between AUA, NeighborSpace, DePaul University, and the Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC), is a comprehensive inventory of Chicago’s urban farms and gardens, and newly updated with a compost registration portal.

AUA looks forward to supporting Chicago’s vibrant urban farming community expand opportunities and create a more sustainable food system, with urban agriculture as an integral part of community economic development, food security, environmental sustainability, and overall quality of life for all.


CUAMP homepage photo

June 8, 2018

Urban Farm & Community Garden Composters: Register today to keep your site in compliance!


CUAMP 2.0 Registration image


As you likely know, in 2015 the city of Chicago passed amendments to the city compost ordinance which expanded what urban farms and gardens are able to compost. City ordinance now allows community gardens and urban farms to accept food scraps and other organic waste generated off-site.

As part of this amendment to accept off-site organic waste, urban farms and gardens must register their site through the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project (CUAMP), and document what they accept.

CUAMP, a collaboration between Advocates for Urban Agriculture, NeighborSpace, DePaul University, and the Chicago Food Policy Action Council (CFPAC) is a comprehensive map and inventory of Chicago’s urban farms and gardens.

Bronzeville Neighborhood Farm1CUAMP has been redesigned and upgraded to accommodate your site’s compost information. The registration portal is now live – head to www.cuamp.org to get started and register your site by July 9, 2018.

To stay in compliance with city ordinance, all composting operations must be registered within 30 days of this notice, and update their registration within 30 days of starting or changing their compost operations.

At the CUAMP site you can explore urban agriculture in Chicago by:

– ensuring your site is registered.
– searching CUAMP by garden name, address, community, or ward.
– downloading data and studying the geography of urban agriculture through the city.

Have questions on what this ordinance means for community gardeners or urban farmers? Want to learn more and get composting? Visit the compost resources section of AUA’s website for:

– Complete compost ordinance overview and frequently asked questions (English and Spanish)
– Advice on composting best practices (English and Spanish)
– Department of Public Health record keeping form for all urban farms and community gardens that accept off-site organic waste log (English and Spanish)

Support the mission to map the state of Chicago’s urban agriculture by checking if your site is a part of the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project today!

June 5, 2018

Save the Date Aug. 9th for AUA’s Grown in Chicago Soirée!

AUA's Grown in Chicago Soiree

AUA’s Grown in Chicago Soirée returns!

Featuring a night market-style showcase of urban gardens and farms from across the city; local and regional financing opportunities; and a hyper-local urban farm-to-table dinner, this unique evening is iconic Chicago urban agriculture that’s not to be missed!

Join us for all this and music, merriment & community at one of Chicago’s premier event spaces, Greenhouse Loft, and catered by 4-Star Certified Green Restaurant & Caterer Big Delicious Planet!

AUA envisions a flourishing food system with urban agriculture as an integral part of community economic development, food security, environmental sustainability, and overall quality of life for all. Join us in making this a reality – save the date and details to follow!

AUA’s 4th Annual Grown in Chicago Soiree

August 9th, 6pm-9pm
Greenhouse Loft
2545 W. Diversey Ave



May 25, 2018

AUA’s “Member May” and Spring Newsletter!

AUA is delighted to share your spring urban agriculture newsletter, bursting with all the latest AUA and citywide news, events and resources. Important updates include an introduction to the City of Chicago’s new Urban Agriculture Project Manager, the current status of the urban farm business license campaign, recent statewide legislative victories, ways to get involved in the urban agriculture community this season, and so much more!

AUA in peppersWe’re also in the closing stretch of our “Member May” drive to raise $1,000 for essential programming and resources. To ensure the benefits and resources of AUA, our city’s largest urban ag network are available to all, we intentionally charge no membership dues. However, that also means we need you to ensure this essential mission continues!

AUA connects you to 2,000+ school, home and community gardeners, urban farmers, and local food system supporters across Chicago, and through this network, we’re building the type of city we want to live in: one with a flourishing food system where urban agriculture is as an integral part of community economic development, food security, environmental sustainability, and overall quality of life for all.

Will you join us directly in this movement building work by contributing $50, $25, or at any meaningful level to reach our need to raise $1,000 this spring?

As a grassroots organization, each dollar you contribute to AUA goes a long way for our urban agriculture movement. Can you support that mission today? And thank you for all that you do as a vital member of Chicago’s urban agriculture hub!

WeSowWeGrow8Look no further than your spring urban agriculture newsletter to see the impact of Advocates for Urban Agriculture, including:

See you in Chicago’s urban fields this season!