We are a coalition of urban farms, community and school gardens, individuals and businesses working to support and expand sustainable agriculture in the Chicago region. Formed in 2002, AUA’s community includes more than 2,300 members throughout the Chicago area and beyond.
AUA acknowledges that the food system is built on a legacy of white supremacy, colonization, exploitation, genocide and violence. It is a system that legitimized the enslavement of African descendants, the genocide of first nations and indigenous people, and continues to discriminate and exploit against people of color that are farmworkers, many of whom are immigrant workers and incarcerated folks. With this as the background to our work, we are committed to dismantling these unreckoned legacies and putting into practice the following values to create a more just and equitable food system.
We believe that justice is necessary to reimagine our current food system. Justice means that all people are given equitable access to resources, wealth, well-being, and opportunities while simultaneously repairing the harm done upon communities historically disenfranchised by a legacy of white supremacy and violence. We strive for justice by creating and advocating for the redistribution of access, wealth, income, and economic opportunities to historically disenfranchised communities and creating accountability processes with directly affected people to repair harm.
Centering BIPOC Communities:
We believe that those directly affected by issues should be at the forefront of creating and leading solutions. We work to make space and focus on BIPOC leadership to shift power towards those directly impacted. We do so by creating accountability processes to center BIPOC leadership and make our work more accessible.
The process by which an individual, community, or other entity controls their own life or lives. The right to make your own decisions without interference from others. Particularly around issues directly affecting your life; Sovereignty- the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.
Respect for the Earth:
Chicago is part of the traditional homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi nations. Many other tribes—such as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Sac, Fox and Menominee—also called this area home. The land is also a site of trade, gathering and healing for countless other Native nations throughout time immemorial. By making a land acknowledgment, we recognize that Indigenous peoples are the traditional stewards of the land we now occupy. In all that we do, we honor the history of this region, the traditional stewards of the land, and demonstrate a profound care for Earth. For our communities to truly thrive, the health of our Earth must be prioritized and upheld. Our care for Earth motivates our desire to honor and reflect the cycles of nature in our programming and policy efforts (biomimicry).
Sustainable Economic Development:
We work to advance policies, facilitate programs and funding opportunities, and foster collaborations that support sustainable economic development for Chicagoland farm businesses and the regional food system as a whole. We primarily work to support small, independent food producers whose growth will contribute to the advancement of food sovereignty and the sustainable economic development of local communities.
We take action to reinforce our individual values of trust, respect, and responsibility by advocating for community development and awareness. We believe that all people should have access to health, wellbeing, wealth, justice and opportunity. We demonstrate the interconnectedness of urban agriculture to encourage participation and understanding of others.
We strive to take ownership of how our collective and individual actions permeate into our relationships with the community we serve. We hold not only one another, but ourselves responsible for acting in such a way which fosters a Chicago food system prioritizing honesty and integrity. We initiate honest conversations about violations of rights, responsibilities, and dignities throughout Chicagoland with the explicit purpose of creating space for growth and eventual remedy.