CHICAGO, IL (April 15, 2012) -- Real Men Charities, Inc. (RMC), Center for Urban Transformation (CUT), and Angelic Organic Learning Center (AOLC) are launching an urban farm and community/school garden in the Englewood community at 70th and Princeton. The project will demonstrate that “Good grows in Englewood,” a community routinely scorned as a “poster child” for poverty, violence, and obesity.
The collaborative effort, centered around an urban farm named “Eat To Live” (E2L), will harness community power to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers as a catalyst for Englewood residents to gather, work, learn, and transform their community and themselves. Linked with schools, faith-based and neighborhood organizations, and Englewood residents of all ages, the objective is to use gardening as a centerpiece for inspiration and a model for the resurrection and rebirth of the community.
Saturday, April 21, 2012 -- Those with the will, desire, and energy -- even without prior gardening experience -- will gather to clear the area for planting, open the volunteer connection, and contribute to the long-range plan of institutionalizing the garden as an anchor for community empowerment from 10 am-2pm.
Sunday, April 22, 2012 -- The community will meet to honor the land, eat, work, and learn from 2pm-4pm. Evoking the spirits of Gospel icon, Mahalia Jackson, comedian Bernie Mac, present day celebrity Jennifer Hudson, and other luminaries who lived and thrived in Englewood, celebrants will learn how gardening skills contribute to building health, wealth, and community security.
In following weeks and months, additional programming will be added. Beginning on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend (May 26, 2012) and continuing through the end of the year, churches, organizations, and block clubs will gather on Saturdays for activities that include music, conversation, and sampling of dishes.
Martha Boyd, executive director of AOLC, which has broad experience with urban and rural farming, will be responsible for managing the day-to-day work effort of community volunteers and garden clubs.
Yvette Moyo Gillard, executive director of Real Men Charities, Inc., the presenting non-profit of the Real Men Cook annual Father’s Day celebrations, will mobilize chefs to host programs around health and nutrition, including cooking demonstrations and tastings.
Speaking about her vision for the program, Ms. Gillard says, “We are nurturing future stewards of the planet: botanists, chemists, nutritionists, innovators in aquaponics, farm planning, and more." The 3rd grade class of Yale Elementary School, which is adjacent to the E2L site, will serve as youth gardeners. RMC has presented Real Men Cook in Englewood and is currently working with five other Englewood elementary schools on a program called “Real Men, Building Healthy Kids and Strengthening Families" with to funding by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.
According to E2L partner Orrin Williams, executive director of CUT, “Building an urban community based on sound economic development principles requires sustainable agriculture based on fair trade practices and human rights.”
Media is invited to cover the opening weekend events. For further information, "like" Save Our Selves (SOS) on Facebook.