Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is excited to announce the 2020 Capacity Building Grant available to Chicagoland urban farm businesses.

This is the third grant opportunity AUA has launched in 2020. In the spring, AUA awarded over $120,000 in grant funds to 67 Chicagoland growing operations through the COVID-19 Farmer Support Grant. While the COVID-19 Farmer Support Grant addressed the immediate financial needs of urban growers in the midst of the pandemic, the Capacity Building Grant will support Chicagoland urban farm businesses working to expand and scale up their operations and work toward sustainability. 

“We are really excited to announce this grant opportunity,” said Sean Ruane, Executive Director of Advocates for Urban Agriculture. “The grant was designed by and for Chicagoland farmers, and is going to provide local farmers with an opportunity to make significant investments in their business, scale up their operations, and ultimately strengthen our local food system”

The Capacity Building Grant program is funded through AUA’s partnership with Food:Land:Opportunity and reflects a set of values that were established by a cohort of Chicago urban farmers. The grant is designed to serve farm businesses that are:

  • Small Operations — less than 5 acres and/or have an operating budget of less than $250,000
  • Owned and/or led by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), trans, non-binary, and/or gender non conforming people.
  • Providing food and other services for low-income communities

The Capacity Building Grant will provide $2,500-$20,000 grants to farm businesses for one or more of the following purposes — programming efforts, infrastructure, tools & equipment, labor support, logistics support, and skills and business development. The application is now open and will close on Tuesday, October 24th, with awards announced by the last week of November. Grants will be reviewed by a committee of 6 urban growers and food systems activists, including:

  • Rachel Kimura of Hinata Farms
  • Gina Roxas of Trickster Cultural Center
  • Emily Cross of El Paseo Community Garden, El Jardín de las Mariposas, After School Matters, Finn’s Ranch
  • Bweza Itaagi of Grow Greater Englewood, Sistas in the Village Farm, Ebimera Vines
  • Sara Cortes of Garfield Park Conservatory, Jardíncito Community Garden
  • Olisaemeka Okakpu of IMAN, Cooperation Operation 

“It is a privilege to be a part of this committee composed of passionate people who, in addition to being growers, play roles as educators, organizers, and business owners in their communities,” said Rachel Kimura, an urban farmer with Hinata Farms. “I’m really excited to know that these funds will be going toward projects that will help make our local food system stronger, more resilient, and more equitable.”

To be eligible for the grant, farm businesses must be located in the following Illinois counties: Cook, Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, Will or Kakakee. Farms must be a legal entity or in the process of becoming one within the next year. To fill out the application, please click here or download a copy of the 2020 Capacity Building Grant Application to submit by email.