Planning for a growing community: Students from Simeon High School are helping to plan what’s “growing” along 83rd Street and Wallace in Chicago, where a new renewable energy and urban farming campus is being built. The students have participated in a four-week series of urban planning charrettes hosted by Urban Growers Collective and architect Taylor Staten of TnS Studios. During each charrette, students give input on plans for the campus’ entrance, open kitchen, courtyard garden walks, classroom spaces and bird sanctuary, along with public art imagined for the nearby viaduct.
One Simeon student said that participating in the charrettes “makes me think about what I could add to make my community better and peaceful.”
This planning is part of an exciting focus on urban farming in Auburn Gresham. Urban Growers Collective is partnering with Green Era Sustainability and Green Era Educational NFP to create the renewable energy campus, to re-cultivate community land and wealth, and to bring fresh vegetables and fruit to harvest for the community. For months, the construction site on 83rd Street has been active, as weeds, rubbish and underground toxins have been cleared to make way for the large farm and clean-energy structure that will open in 2022. The campus will create more than 100 jobs for youth and returning citizens as pathways for economic self-determination. The project is part of Always Growing, Auburn Gresham, a bold vision for a healthier Auburn Gresham that received the 2020 Chicago Prize, a $10 million infrastructure investment.
“Environmental justice is real for South Siders, and we are reclaiming our community right to clean air and rich soil,” said Darion Crawford, UGC Urban Farmer & Instructor, after one of the charrettes. “The renewable energy facility at 83rd and Wallace will transform food waste into rich compost and clean bio-gas without toxic odor and pollution.”
Learn more about the power to build capital and grow food in Auburn Gresham by visiting UrbanGrowersCollective.org. The public also can stop by their Mother’s Day plant and seed giveaway on Saturday, May 8, starting at noon until supplies are gone at Simeon Career Academy, 8147 S. Vincennes.