Chicago, United StatesWebsite
UGC works to dismantle inequities and structural racism through community food system development, which prevent communities of color from living healthy, vibrant lives. Ultimately, UGC’s programs advance environmental equity to benefit and uplift all. As a Black- and woman-led organization, we believe that achieving food justice is a necessary first step in healing the historical trauma experienced by communities of color, building their resilience, and, ultimately, achieving liberation. Although our work is rooted in farming, UGC’s approach is holistic. Our urban farms produce over 18,000+ pounds of fresh produce annually, enabling food access to thousands of food-insecure Chicagoans and providing educational and life-enriching opportunities to hundreds of individuals each year through public workshops, workforce development, and land stewardship.
Erika Allen is a social change artist, with a focus on the healing arts related to understanding and deconstructing/revealing how structural oppression impacts society and humanity. Her arts practice for the last 22 years has focused on community based food systems and agriculture in the built environment. Reclamation of food, culture, spirit and the inherent arts that manifest outside of the traditional art world codex. Her work is practical and visible in the commons, carrying on traditional indigenous African and folk arts that work with the earth and nature. She integrates farms, spirit groves, edible landscapes, earth shaping and installations to communicate and activate our connections with plant medicines. Allen earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1992; MA, University of Illinois, Art Psychotherapy, 2000 and recently was honored with a Ph.D. in Public Health from University of Illinois. Ms. Allen has integrated creative and therapeutic techniques with food security and community development via Growing Power Chicago and Urban Growers Collective, Inc. Erika is also a partner with Green Era Sustainability, developing green energy and circular economies that are centered on climate resiliency and mutualism.
Art on the Farm - South Chicago: Artist in Residence - “Makers Space - Outdoor Arts and Culinary Studio”
Urban Growers Collective (UGC) envisions an outdoor art studio “making” and culinary space to establish an arts residency program that is informed by nature, vision, and communal sharing of diverse narratives. This new space will support emergent collaborations on the seven-acre South Chicago Farm adjacent to Clara Shafer Park at 8900 S. Greenbay Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. The themes are rooted in sustainability: a place to perform, rest, cook, dream, discuss, and restore on regenerated land. This new built environment will allow UGC to formalize and expand the residency program with the Chicago Art Department, Hyde Park Art Center, and arts and culinary serving actors of all ages from our community, long term.
Team lead Erika Allen is a social change artist with a focus on the healing arts related to understanding, deconstructing and revealing how structural oppression impacts society and humanity. Her work is practical and visible in the commons, carrying on traditional Indigenous African and folk arts that work with the earth and nature. She integrates farms, spirit groves, edible landscapes, earth shaping, and installations to communicate and activate our connections with plant medicines. Her arts practice for the last 22 years has focused on community based food systems and agriculture in the built environment.