CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
is a subscription that clients purchase to receive a weekly or bi-monthly produce delivery that contains 8-12 varieties of fresh produce harvested same-day. Clients often pre-pay before May 1st, however we work with clients using LINK to create payment plans. This is a main source of revenue for Star Farm Chicago. Star Farm sites have the potential to provide for 50 CSAs.
The PeaceMobile is a donated, disabled RV that was refurbished by volunteers. It is stocked with donated books on gardening and organic farming, as well as young adult literature and classics. It has many functions for Star Farm participants. It is an informal breakroom for trainees, a quiet space for some of our adults with developmental disabilities to relax and unwind, and an alternative space for young adults to work on homework, reading, or drawing. Individual participants check-in to the PeaceMobile and are allowed to spend half-hour blocks with no more than 4 people.
Community events at Star Farm locations are all-inclusive, free, and fun parties that involve neighbors, performers, community organization partners, food, and usually a bonfire. Residents participate in the set-up and break-down of the events, and often bring food to share. At the main production and training site, two annual events take place in addition to the monthly gatherings: the Spring Planting Festival and the Fall Harvest Fest. These events are essential for advertising programs, services, and creating community bond.
Children’s Garden Program
Children between ages 4 and 14 engage in our children’s garden program as an after-school and summer program. Youth learn about the growth of food and flowers from seed to harvest, and are able to identify and cultivate the plants through various stages of growth. Youth learn food preparation and work together to put together balanced meals and snacks for each other. Youth have the opportunity to attend the 51st Street Farmer’s Market and fundraise for the garden by selling vegetables, seedlings, and art, and also give garden tours during the two main annual events at Star Farm. Children from the garden have created their own garden constitution with rules and goals. Through games, gardening, nature walks, outdoor explorations, food preparation and eating, participants are able to build soft and hard skills with STEM and restorative justice practices. By being all-inclusive, participants learn how to help each other grow. Participants also play an active role in the PeaceMobile.
is a produce delivery service offered to senior and homebound residents. Senior citizens are the elders of our society. Many have lived in the Back of the Yards Neighborhood their whole lives and have been a part of its growth and development as a community. As families grow up and apart, sometimes seniors have a difficult time getting to the grocery store and transporting more than 10 pounds of food home, which severely limits choice in the grocery store, and studies have found that seniors regularly choose produce on basis of weight rather than need. This is especially challenging in a food desert. Star Farm would like to honor these residents with home-delivery, and assists with partial processing and putting produce away in fridges. Convenience of home-delivery and partially-processed vegetables (such as leaf removal, washing, and separation) is a convenience taken advantage of by high-level professionals, and Star Farm believes that our neighborhood seniors have done the high-level professional work of supporting our community, raising children and grandchildren, and now should have a place for our trainees and youth to service.
Star Farm Urban Agriculture Training Program
trains adults with developmental disabilities, adults with hiring barriers, and youth from OneSummerChicago all aspects of running an urban farm business including cultivation, processing, crop-planning, marketing, farmer’s market staffing, accounting, and customer and community relations.
Through the training program, techniques and practices of organic urban agriculture are shared with those looking to expand their skill sets and job readiness. Participants are introduced to all aspects of running an urban farm and have the option to specialize after experience in all duties, usually after 4 weeks of work. Through journal and record-keeping, as well as daily check-ins, participants are able to identify their strengths and areas for expansion. Preparation for positions in urban agriculture are highlighted but also associated skills that are valuable in landscape maintenance, the food service industry, customer relations, etc. Participants will be given access to educational and work opportunities in related fields.
51st Street Farmer’s Market
Star Farm manages the 51st Street Farmer’s Market. Star Farm coordinates volunteers, vendors, grants, reporting, marketing, and outreach. Star Farm is also a vendor at the market. Local vendors include prepared food vendors, community organizations, and two community gardens. The market is a safe community event that offers many incentives for local residents to purchase local produce. In 2017, more than 250 local residents supported the market, over $100 LINK card purchases were doubled for clients, $125 Senior Farmer’s Market Coupons were accepted, and three regular vendors made up the core of the market. Clients mainly included the elderly and female heads of household. Star Farm also managed a craft table for kids, gave tours of the market to new customers, and performed translations for Spanish-only speaking clients.
are single or double-lot farms and community gardens that are maintained by staff and neighborhood residents. They play off of the ubiquity of “corner stores” in the community, and give residents an opportunity to freely harvest fresh produce to supplement and diversify their diet. There are three dedicated residents that live close to the corner farms and help maintain it all year as well as contribute to planning, development, and events on the site. Each site will be equipped with a seating area, signage regarding each crop and how to harvest it, a free gardening how-to and cookbook library, and a community bulletin board that highlights events and opportunities in the neighborhood.
Each Corner Farm remains unlocked, and residents can use it for BBQs, block club meetings or fundraisers, birthday parties, etc. Schools and daycares will also use it as a place of recreation and enjoyment as well as educational and STEM development.
Edible Landscaping Services
Star Farm offers raised-bed vegetable and native flower gardens for businesses, organizations, churches, and residences. Along with two of its community partners, Star Farm will help to lead a basic, eco-friendly landscaping and edible garden service staffed by adults by developmental disabilities in the community, other community residents.