ABOUT

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.

 

Our Mission

EDUCATE

We educate and train agriculture practitioners throughout the Chicago region.

ENDORSE

We endorse good practices for urban growing operations of all types and sizes.

CONNECT

We connect growers, consumers, and resources through an active coalition.

ADVOCATE

We advocate for policies that allow urban agriculture to thrive.

OUR TEAM

Sean Ruane

Executive Director

Sean is deeply committed to building a more just and equitable food system in Chicago. He was born and currently lives on the southwest side of Chicago and developed a love for growing food at an early age, while visiting his grandfather’s farm in Ireland and gardening with his mom. Sean holds a B.A in Education and an M.A in Justice Education. He has worked as an educator and non-profit leader for almost a decade, serving six years as a classroom teacher and social justice educator, and the last few years as the co-founder and director of Just Roots Chicago, a non-profit organization empowering communities to develop access to local, sustainably grown food. In his work with Just Roots Chicago, he has led fundraising and development efforts, co-led growing operations, and fostered strategic partnerships with community organizations. Sean also spent the last few years with Big Green, where he worked to equip administrators, teachers, and students at CPS schools with the skills and resources to utilize their school garden as a space for local food production and food literacy programming. Sean believes urban growers have the power to strengthen local economies and build resilient communities and is dedicated to working collectively with farmers, community gardeners and advocates to empower the urban agricultural community in Chicago.

Email: director@auachicago.org

Jazmin Martinez

Outreach Manager

Jazmin is a farmer from La Villita/Little Village neighborhood in Chicago and uses They/them pronouns. They are a owner-worker of Catatumbo Cooperative Farm currently located in South Chicago. They have previous experience working in social services providing crisis and trauma-informed support and connecting individuals and families to resources. Additionally, their background involves organizing within the immigrant rights movement. Through their work, they saw a need to create economic opportunities for historically excluded communities and was drawn to urban farming, particularly within an worker-cooperative model. Their work is grounded in reverence for the land and hands that feed and nourish us. They are committed to connecting urban agriculture with broader social justice movements to envision and create other possible worlds.

Email: jazmin@auachicago.org

Viviana Gentry Fernandez-Pellon

Programs Director

Viviana Gentry Fernández-Pellón is a farmer rooted in Chicago’s south side. She is passionate about food and medicine sovereignty, reduction of soil and water toxicity, and generative economics. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies and History from Oberlin College and has furthered her agricultural education by farming throughout North and Central America. She co-founded the community garden and 501(c)3 Cooperation Operation and The Chicago Mushroom Company, LLC. She grounds her work in a deep love for Chicago’s land, water, and people.

Email: viviana@auachicago.org

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

  • Leah Lawson

    Board President

    Curiously Bound, LLC

  • Imron Bhatti

    Board Secretary

    U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • Pat Muench

    Board Treasurer

    Bailey & Glasser, LLP

  • Paul Krysik

    Windy City Harvest

  • Akilah Martin

    US Army Corps of Engineers

  • Harry Rhodes

    Growing Home

  • Patsy Benveniste

    Chicago Botanic Garden (Retired)

ASSOCIATE BOARD

  • Ali Yuen

    El Paseo Community Garden

  • Bridget Armanini

    Arrive Fresh

  • Ray Dybzinski

    Loyola University

  • Nanci Garoon Leigner

    Human Resources Director

  • Ernie Nielsen

    Retired Attorney

  • Laurie Ouding

    Registered Nurse

  • Jessica Rome

    Hines VA Hospital

Funding for AUA is generously provided by individual supporters and the following major sponsors:
J.R. Albert Foundation Inc., Walter S. Mander Foundation, The Lumpkin Family Foundation, CHIditarod Foundation,
The Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust, Illinois State Treasurer Charitable Trust, GroupOn, The Little Owl Foundation Fund at The Chicago Community Trust & Apologue Liqueurs