November 10, 2017

2018 Beginning Farmer of the Year Competition Announced: $1,000 Cash prize! Great Publicity!

Routes 2 Farm Alliance logo


The Beginning Farmer of the Year award, sponsored by Routes to Farm, a Farmer Alliance of which AUA is a proud member, seeks to celebrate and promote YOU the amazing folks who are entering sustainable farming! How does it work?

Simply submit a 3-minute video to by January 12th, 2018. We’ll post all videos on our website, and the video that wins the most votes wins AUA’s nomination! From there it’s on to the Good Food EXPO, where the winner takes home $1,000 and great publicity!

Award Details:

  1. Beginning Farmer of the Year receives a $1,000 award in a public ceremony and a free pass to Industry Day at the Good Food EXPO (Friday) in Chicago!
  2. Finalists (one farmer from each farmer alliance in Routes to Farm) will receive honorable mention, a $100 award, and a free pass to Industry Day at the Good Food EXPO (Friday)!

Additional Benefits of Participation:

  1. Broaden your farm’s visibility through features on,, and as well as inclusion in materials at the Good Food EXPO & Conference which reached 7500+ individuals in 2017 and farmer alliance websites and social media outlets.
  2. Build credentials with your customer base.
  3. Benefits from using the video submission in your own marketing and social media.
  4. Your farm featured in alternative agriculture publications and local press in collaboration with staff support at Angelic Organics Learning Center and FamilyFarmed.
  5. Build connections for your farm through attendance at the Good Food EXPO & Conference.

Video Details:

Each video must be 3 minutes or less and answer these ten questions to be eligible:

  1. What is your name and what is your farm’s name?
  2. Where is your farm?
  3. How long has your farm been in operation?
  4. How much land do you farm and what is it like? Is it urban, peri-urban or rural?
  5. What does your farm produce/sell and to whom?
  6. Why do you farm?
  7. What farmer alliance in Routes to Farm ( are you a member of and for how many years have you been a member?
  8. How has your farmer alliance helped you launch or grow your farm?
  9. What is the biggest obstacle you face or have overcome as a beginning farmer?
  10. What is new on your farm next season? How are you innovating or growing?

Criteria for Selection:

  1. Video is 3 minutes or less and all eligibility questions are addressed
  2. Video shares a compelling, creative, humorous, or inspiring story
  3. Video demonstrates how farmer has been a leader, innovator, or community-builder
  4. Video features footage of the farm and the farmer
  5. The farmer is a member of at least one farmer alliance in Routes to Farm (
  6. The farmer is in the first 10 years of farm business operation
  7. The awardee agrees to attend and participate in the award ceremony at the Good Food EXPO in Chicago
  8. The video raises the public profile of beginning farmers, mentor farmers and the farmer alliances that support them

View simple videos from past awardees:

See further details here:

Questions? Contact AUA at or 773-850-0428!


October 31, 2017

AUA’s Fall Newsletter Is Here!

Did you catch AUA’s Fall Newsletter? Read on for: details on hoop house funding for Cook County urban farms and gardens (application deadline soon!), our final “Raise The Barn Crop” group volunteering day at Earnest Earth community garden, AUA and urban agriculture in the news, the latest from our working groups and more!


harvest 565



September 27, 2017

Save the Date for AUA & Patchwork Farms’ Urban Ag Fall Gathering – Thurs, Oct. 26th!

Yellow Pattern Thanksgiving Poster


AUA and Patchwork Farms warmly invite you to our annual FREE Fall Gathering on Thursday, Oct. 26th, 6pm-9pm at Patchwork’s Humboldt Park site, 2825 W. Chicago Ave!

Join us for delicious potluck, networking, hearty merriment, and engaging discussion. Learn about the next steps for the proposed urban farm business license, share the successes and challenges of the season’s harvest with fellow urban farmers and gardeners, explore potential ways to collaborate cooperatively and more! Further details to follow, and mark those calendars for:

Urban Ag Fall Gathering!
Hosted by Patchwork Farms & Advocates for Urban Agriculture
Thursday, October 26th, 6pm-9pm
Patchwork Farms, 2825 W. Chicago Ave

All are welcome and the more the merrier!

July 28, 2017

Laura Calvert Named New Executive Director of Advocates for Urban Agriculture

Laura and goatAdvocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is very pleased to announce that the 501(c)(3) organization has chosen Laura Calvert as its new Executive Director. She succeeds Billy Burdett, who led the organization for five years before leaving to farm full time. Laura comes to AUA from an eight-year stint with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest program, where her last position was as Food Safety and Compliance Supervisor. In that capacity, she managed the Windy City Harvest combined food sales and markets; implemented best practices in training and food safety; and collaborated with a wide range of stakeholders, including government agencies, community organizations, medical and educational institutions, and funders on issues related to urban agriculture and community development.

Laura has a B.S. in Business Administration and Management from Bradley University, where she graduated first in her class, and has been active in state farming organizations. She is a founding board member and fundraising chair for the Illinois Farmers Market Association, and a member of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Farmers Market Task Force. Laura holds professional certificates from the University of Vermont as a Food Hub Manager, the Chicago Area Project in Advancing Youth Development, from SafeServ as Food Safety Manager, and from the University of Illinois-Extension’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program.

Laura will lead AUA at an important time in its fifteen-year history, helping staff and board members forge a new strategic plan to guide the organization’s next phase of development: as the leading Chicagoland hub for information and expertise about urban agriculture; as an advocate for progressive food policies at the city and county level; and as a provider of direct assistance for urban and suburban farmers.

Robert Nevel, AUA’s vice president, noted that, “After reviewing more than two dozen applicants and a deliberate, nearly three-month-long recruitment process, the search committee’s unanimous choice was Laura. We are delighted that she will be joining us, and invite the public to come and meet her as she launches her AUA tenure at our Grown in Chicago Summer Soirée and Showcase, August 10, 2017, at Big Delicious Planet on Chicago’s near west side.”

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit coalition of Chicago-area gardeners, farmers, organizations, businesses and others who seek to expand and strengthen urban agriculture, from home- and community-based growing to market gardens and small farms. Its Advocacy, Connections and Resources Working Groups support the growth of the urban agriculture movement through policy, community outreach, educational & networking events, knowledge & skill sharing, and informational resources. With over 2,000 members and 2,300 listserv subscribers, AUA is the hub and voice of Chicagoland’s urban agriculture community.