Our progress

Green Era is built on the belief that together we have the power to take “waste” and turn it into a resource for our collective vision and values. It will take time, but we are committed to laying the foundation for change.

Where we started

16.1% unemployment in Auburn Gresham
52% of Auburn Gresham residents at risk for food insecurity 
55 million pounds of food waste monthly in Chicago 
39% of Auburn Gresham households have an income less than $25,000
29% of Auburn Gresham residents live in poverty

Where we're going

300+ new green jobs created at full capacity
125+ varieties of fresh produce and medicinal herbs grown and distributed per year
42,500 tons of carbon dioxide offset
20,000+ square feet of community outdoor space


Read our one pager

Green Era Campus Timeline

2002: Growing Power Chicago launches
We have been developing our programming and community engagement model since 2002, with the beginning of Urban Growers Collective’s predecessor, Growing Power Chicago. Urban Growers Collective is built upon the foundation of Growing Power, a non-profit organization and land trust established in Milwaukee, WI in 1993 that operated its urban farm and educational workshops for 25 years before closing its doors in 2017.

2005: Grant Park Farm established by Growing Power Chicago
One of the first farms established by Growing Power Chicago, this “landscaped” farm is used to teach folks how to grow an abundance of crops in a beautiful way and to explore the intersections of art, creativity, food, and farming. 

2013: Initial Feasibility Discussions with the City of Chicago

2014: Site identification & Brownfield cleanup assessment
Green Era Educational NFP (incubated by Growing Power Chicago) identifies and conducts a cleanup assessment for the Green Era Campus initiative. The 9-acre site at 83rd and Wallace in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood is identified. The site was a former International Harvester industry location and required brownfield site remediation prior to development.

2015: Property secured for Green Era Campus
Green Era Educational NFP secured site ownership of the site and applied for an EPA grant for brownfield remediation.

2017: Urban Growers Collective is established. 
Erika Allen and Laurell Sims co-found Urban Growers Collective. After Growing Power closed, Growing Power Chicago’s leadership team, committed to continuing the legacy of Growing Power, formed Urban Growers Collective to build upon the 15 years of successes in Chicago.

Initial cleanup grant for Green Era Campus awarded. 
After being denied in 2016, Green Era Educational NFP reapplied for and was awarded an EPA grant for brownfield remediation.

2018: Community-centered master planning process with Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation and Urban Growers Collective 
Along with 5 years of community meetings and outreach, Urban Growers Collective and Green Era Educational NFP worked closely with the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation to align development of the Green Era Campus project with the Auburn Gresham Quality of Life Plan.

April 2020: Green Era Campus receives inaugural Chicago Prize
The first $10 Million Chicago Prize, sponsored by the Pritzker Traubert Foundation, was awarded to Always Growing Auburn Gresham proposal including the Green Era Campus.

July 31, 2020: Construction of Phase 1 (anaerobic digester) begins

July 2021: Community design charrettes completed
In partnership with residents and students from Simeon and Leo High Schools, we finalized the design and budget for the Community Education Center.

Q2 2022: Completion of Phase 1 construction
The Anaerobic Digester, operated by Green Era 83rd St LLC, begins accepting organic feedstock to divert waste from landfills and produce renewable energy and compost for farm operations. 

Q3 2022: Construction of Phase 2 (community program space) begins 

Q1 2023: Projected completion date of Green Era Campus

“Though Black people were farmers (and still are), we don't see farming of this scale happen in an urban area, let alone on the South Side of Chicago. The community will be able to come see farming up close and leave knowing more about food.”

Taylor Staten, TnS Studios Design Principal

Partners in Impact: TNS Studios

TnS Studios is a Black Woman-Led architecture firm serving the South Side of Chicago and leading the Green Era Campus design process. They specialize in adaptive reuse renovations, emphasizing sustainable solutions and championing the reuse and repair of existing building materials. Their firm also serves young designers by creating a community of continuous learning, with a goal to introduce young Black students to architecture as a career path and create a pipeline to excellent and well-known architecture firms in efforts to increase diversity in the architecture profession. Black architects presently represent 2% of the profession, and we are proud to partner with TnS Studios to invest in equity.

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