July 16, 2015

AUA Summer 2015 Newsletter


Click here to read the full newsletter. 

While the tomatoes and peppers might be ripening a little slower than they normally do at this time of the year, Summer is here and more food is growing in Chicago than ever before.

And we’re getting ready to celebrate how far along Chicago’s urban agriculture movement has come with our first-ever Grown in Chicago: Summer Soiree & Showcase! Boasting a gourmet dinner from Big Delicious Planet (named Greenest Caterer in America by the Green Restaurant Association) that features Chicago-grown ingredients, an open bar featuring local and regional libations, an urban agriculture showcase featuring Chicago gardens and farms in a farmers market setting along with 5 major urban ag funding resources to connect with, live music from some of Chicago’s finest jazz musicians, an incredible urban ag/local food-focused silent auction, and even some pretty sweet gift bags, the event will take place at an at an amazing urban farm and raise funds for AUA’s work. This is seriously something you don’t want to miss.

In this edition of AUA’s E-Newsletter you’ll also find:
  • A close look at this issue’s featured urban agriculture project, the Peterson Garden Project
  • The 3rd installment of our series celebrating 2015, the International Year of Soils: The Magic of Minerals
  • A featured post from AUA’s blog about gardening on a budget
  • Easy steps to get your garden or farm on the Chicago Urban Agriculture Mapping Project
  • A recap of our successful Spring Gathering last April
  • A report on our Bugs, Bees, & Biodiversity Urban Agriculture Field day
  • The latest from our Working Groups, which have a great deal of progress to report on

Click here to read more.

Huge thanks to all of the wonderful Connections Working Group members and other volunteers for contributing to this e-newsletter!
July 14, 2015

Gardening on a Budget: 5 Ways to Stretch Your Dollar

By Kathlee Freeman

The benefits of gardening are huge, including increased time spent outdoors, fresh fruits and vegetables, connections with neighbors and the community, and a way to relax and unwind. However, as they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (even if it’s grown). Here are some things to consider that will save you time and money on your next gardening project.

1. Plan ahead. Like any project, planning ahead for costs can help avoid a lot of headache and overspending down the road. Consider not only the cost of the plants or seeds, but other expenses. Will you need to purchase soil? Will you need any containers? What about structures to keep animals out? What will it cost to water your garden? All of these can sneak up on an unsuspecting gardener, leaving them with a bigger bill than anticipated. Here is a great list to get you started!

2. Start small! Once you get the gardening bug, it’s hard to stop. A few tomato plants can turn into grand plans quickly. But, if this is your first season, start small and build up. A few containers or a small plot can take time to maintain, especially if you’re still learning. Also, some plants are much easier to grow than others. Take your time and learn what works best for you garden before you invest a ton of money in supplies and plants.

Egg Carton Garden

Recycled egg cartons are a great option for seed starting. (Image via Flicker User min.dy)

 3. Use recycled containers to start your seeds. This tip will get you looking at your trash in a new way. Everything from egg cartons to folded newspapers can be used as seedling containers. It’s also a great way to prevent more trash from winding up in landfills.

 4. Swap, borrow, or split costs. There are some things that you will have to shell out money for. Equipment like tillers, spades, soil, and seeds or plants are necessary, but don’t always come cheap. To save costs, consider going in on the items with a friend or, for equipment, borrowing. You can always offer a portion of your harvest in exchange for borrowing supplies. In the same vein, instead of buying new seeds, save them from season to season. Looking for something new? Trade seeds with a friend. If you’re in short supply of someone to swap with, the Chicago Botanical Gardens, Chicago Community Gardener’s Association, Peterson Garden Project, and the Southside Organic Gardeners Seed Swap all host annual seed swaps. Also, don’t forget about seed libraries and the Great Perennial Divide, where you can snag some great seeds and plants for free.

5. Compost. Composting is a great way to reduce greenhouse gases and trash by converting waste into fertilizer, all while saving money. If you’ve never composted before, there are a few upfront costs and things to consider before you get started. You’ll need the actual compost bin (you can make one yourself or buy one) and you should choose the location of the bin carefully. If you would like to learn more about composting, check out the Garfield Park Conservatory, where free weekly composting demonstrations are held on Saturdays through September.

Keep these tips in mind and you will be sure to save a few bucks. Happy planting!

Kathlee FreemanKathlee Freeman is an advocate for just food systems and sustainable agriculture. In addition to working in nonprofit development and marketing, she is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Food Tank: The Food Think Tank. She received her undergraduate degree from DePaul University and is currently pursuing her graduate degree at the University of Missouri – Columbia.


June 24, 2015

Early bird tickets available NOW for Grown in Chicago: Summer Soiree & Showcase!

Urban agriculture is thriving in Chicago, so let’s CELEBRATE! Join AUA for a very special summer night of local food & drinks, a one-of-a-kind urban agriculture showcase & market, live music, and new connections. Details below.


Take advantage of special early bird prices by ordering now!

Click here for tickets

The evening will feature:

Urban Farm DinnerCertificationLogo

Indulge in a buffet dinner made from some of the freshest, tastiest ingredients in Chicago. Guaranteed Green restaurant Big Delicious Planet, listed by the Green Restaurant Association as the Greenest Caterer in America, will be whipping up something special with produce supplied by their own urban farm and the evening’s featured farms and gardens. It doesn’t getting any fresher than that! Come and experience what makes Big Delicious Planet one of only two 4-Star Certified Green Restaurants in Chicago!

Local Libations

It is summer in Chicago, so you will want to stop by the open bar to sample a variety of refreshing beverages from nearby breweries, wineries, and distilleries!

Urban Agriculture Showcase

Meet the farmers and gardeners who grew your dinner! This unique, “hyper local” farmers market will feature a diverse array of farms and gardens within the City limits. Bring your market bag to stock up on some produce and chat with people successfully pushing Chicago’s urban agriculture boundaries. Are you a farmer? Or do you dream of becoming a farmer? Organizations offering funding and other resources for urban ag projects in Chicago will also be at the market for you to connect with.

Live Music, Mixing & Mingling

As with all AUA events, this will be a great opportunity to meet and share ideas with others interested in urban agriculture. We will have live music to set the backdrop and a great outdoor space (including BDP’s farm!) to explore. You will also want to make sure to stop by the silent auction to bid on your choice of some spectacular good food products, experiences, and services!

We hope you can join us for the first-ever Grown in Chicago: Summer Soiree & Showcase!

Click here for tickets

Take advantage of special early bird prices by ordering now!

 Thank you to our generous sponsors:

April 15, 2015

AUA Spring 2015 Newsletter

Spring is here, and we have a lot to tell you about! In addition to reporting on a super productive Winter and early Spring filled with events and projects, we’re also excited to share what’s in store for AUA’s most bountiful growing season yet.


In this edition of AUA’s E-Newsletter you’ll find:

  • Upcoming meetings and events, including this year’s Spring Gathering – “Promoting Cross-Cultural Pollination”
  • An introduction to our new Urban Agriculture Map & Directory
  • A close look at this issue’s featured urban agriculture project, the Academy for Global Citizenship
  • The 2nd installment of our series celebrating 2015, the International Year of Soils – “The Sweet Smell of Compost”
  • The Winner of our Winter Photo Contest!
  • A featured post from AUA’s blog about efforts to change Chicago’s “weed ordinance”
  • Reports from recent events like AUA’s Winter Gathering/Urban Livestock Expo and Local Food Lobby Day
  • The latest from our Working Groups
  • And more!

Huge thanks to all of the wonderful Connections Working Group members and other volunteers for contributing to this e-newsletter!