USDA and the Urban Transformation Network (UTN) in Chicago teamed up to open one of 17 urban hubs in the revitalized People’s Garden initiative.
Champaign, IL --The simple act of planting a garden can have big impacts. In 2022, USDA and the Urban Transformation Network (UTN) in Chicago teamed up to open one of 17 urban hubs in the revitalized People’s Garden initiative, which engages communities to build more diverse and resilient local food systems and address issues like nutrition access and climate change.
“Our goal is to connect people to opportunity so they can move from stagnant, difficult conditions to vibrant, healthy, and productive lifestyles,” says UTN CEO Don Patterson. “We believe in empowering people and transforming lives.”
In May 2022, leaders and staff from USDA and UTN celebrated a kick-off event at the UTN’s Metro Farm on the West Side of Chicago. Metro Farm is more than a typical vegetable garden. There are raised beds and seasonal high tunnels for growing vegetables, and educational workshops to teach local residents how to grow and cook healthy meals. The farm includes an aquaculture program that produces tilapia for local restaurants and grows hydroponic vegetables that are distributed to local families.
In addition to food production, UTN works with students and volunteers to teach youth the value of growing food. These youth develop skills and passions designed to explore job opportunities with new skill sets. People’s Gardens partner with community groups like UTN teach about the benefits of sustainable, local agriculture and how gardening can foster community collaboration, provide green gathering spaces, and benefit the environment.
The UTN and USDA People’s Garden partnership is only getting started. Work is beginning nearby on four new vacant lots that will become more UTN urban gardens growing healthy food for local residents. To learn more about the work UTN is doing in the community, visit Urban Transformation Network. For more about the People’s Garden Initiative, visit The People's Garden.