This summer, we’re proud to be partnering with Urban Growers Collective, a Chicago based non-profit whose mission is to cultivate nourishing environments which support health, economic development, healing and creativity through urban agriculture.

Urban Growers Produce

Led by co-founders Erika Allen and Laurell Sims, their work aims to make nutritional food more accessible and affordable; create economic opportunities; and break patterns of systemic racism that exist in the food system and communities of color.

This organization operates eight urban farms, engages teens on the farm through their Youth Corps, provides training in urban agriculture to adults and beginning farmers, offers a wide variety of workshops on topics ranging from agricultural growing techniques to social justice and healing, and manages the Fresh Moves Mobile Market a farmers’ market on wheels. Through their programming, they have been able to improve a wide range of social, health, and positive economic outcomes in our hometown of Chicago.

Urban Growers Collective
Photo from Urban Growers Collective

Due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, UGC has had to pivot to a “new normal.” They are now working to distribute produce donations weekly to more than 700 households at 25 partner sites in communities of color that are being hit the hardest by the pandemic. To date, they have donated 7,754 boxes of produce, totaling over 120,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables.

“The current health pandemic is eye-opening to many and shows the importance of growing and self-sustainability in a time of crisis,” said UGC Co-Founder Erika Allen. “We are working to break barriers and combat food insecurity, as we normally do, but now in a much more hyper-focused manner and on a larger scale to immediately meet the communities’ needs.”

Produce from Urban Growers Collective
Photo from Urban Growers Collective

Urban Growers Collective’s summer workshops with teens this year have gone virtual. We are proud to share that Saranello’s Executive Chef / Partner Mychael Bonner will be hosting one of the interactive virtual cooking classes to create a one-pot recipe based on their seasonal produce box.

chef mychael bonner headshot

The Tomato & Summer Squash Gratin is a dish that Chef Mychael’s mother made for him as a child. His special family recipe will be shared in hundreds of produce boxes distributed throughout the summer to those in need.

Saranello's tomato gratin

Check out Chef Mychael Bonner’s recipe for Tomato & Summer Squash Gratin, click here. 

Urban Growers Collective
Photo from Urban Growers Collective

Interested in learning more about Urban Growers Collective? Below are some resources and ways you can help: 

  1. Make a donation: Every donation helps, no matter how small! A $20 donation will cover the cost of a produce box that gets a family of four with fresh produce for a week. Or purchase a share of their collective supported agriculture.
  2. Spread the word: Tell your friends and family about Urban Growers Collective. Follow them on Instagram @urbangrowerscollective and Facebook 
  3. Become a volunteer: This page on their website details all the ways you can help. If you have a skill that you think might be useful –  please let them know by emailing