The City acquired the one-and-a-quarter acre triangular site with the use of TIF and state funds in 2009. NRC led the community planning process for the site and it was designated as a future part of the community-designed and governed Multicultural Sculpture Park and Healing Garden in Ronan Park. When CLESE approached Alderman Mell about temporary use of the site for an urban refugee training farm, NRC saw the opportunity to meet a need addressed in the site planning; a lack of edible community gardens. CLESE holds a 3 year lease with the City for the land for their Refugee Agricultural Partnership Project, which teaches refugee families to earn a living by adapting their agricultural knowledge to the Chicago climate. CLESE also hosts Peterson Garden Project, who manages the edible garden program and Grow-to-Give Program, which will generate over one ton of fresh vegetables for area food pantries this season alone. Box garden beds are available for a low cost to community members interested in growing their own food. NRC was excited to welcome new partners to meet another community goal and was successful in finding a bricks-and-mortar home for Peterson Garden Project and their new Learning Center in Ravenswood Manor.
The Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE) and fifty-one member agencies provide direct services to more than 50,000 seniors from over 30 cultural and language groups in metropolitan Chicago. Their mission is to improve the lives of limited English speaking elderly through leadership, education and advocacy. CLESE programs for refugee elders include development and delivery of an ESL curriculum for older learners and training for case managers. By providing land, tools, seed, and instruction CLESE’s Global Gardens Refugee Training Farm builds on traditional strengths and skills to create real economic opportunity for displaced refugee farmers in their new home. Their long-term goal is to serve as an incubator for independent, refugee-owned farms and businesses.
The Peterson Garden Project is a plot-to-plate resource organization dedicated to recruiting, educating and inspiring a new generation of gardeners who want to gain control of their food supply, grow their own produce organically and make urban gardening the norm—not the exception. The Project installs and manages community edible gardens, offers garden education, and builds community, one tomato at a time. Peterson Garden Project has four community gardens, a workplace garden at the Field Museum of Chicago and a school garden, and a Learning Center.
The North River Commission (NRC) is a community-based organization founded in 1962 by concerned residents and neighborhood institutions. NRC unites over 100 civic associations, businesses, schools, institutions and places of worship on the northwest side of Chicago to improve the quality of life for all constituents in our community by creating affordable housing, quality education, arts and cultural endeavors, open spaces, and stable neighborhood businesses.