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Community Wellness

Community wellness builds on the foundation of public safety by providing the means for residents to improve their personal and community physical and social well-being.  The centerpiece of wellness efforts over the past several years has been the steady development of the Garfield Park Garden Network and its Neighborhood Market.  The Garden Network is a 31-member association of local gardens that are providing multiple benefits for the community: increasing the availability of fresh produce in one of Chicago’s food deserts, supporting service learning opportunities for local teens, and beautifying many previously blighted areas of the neighborhood. The Garden Network encompasses more than three acres on primarily vacant lots and is managed by a resident committee that meets monthly. A community greenhouse, built in 2011, provides year-round planting and the ability to start more than 2,000 seedlings. Gardeners grow a variety of flowers and vegetables and provide ongoing support and mentoring to new growers and summer internships for local youth. 

In 2013, the GPCC was selected for a City-supported Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $7,000 to start a Neighborhood Market in Garfield Park selling produce and other products from local growers.  The Market features arts and food vendors, music, food demonstrations, family-friendly activities, and SNAP benefits with Double Value and senior coupons available, all designed to encourage healthy eating and lifestyles.  Located on a reclaimed vacant lot at Kedzie and Lake, the Garden Network’s Market has become a means of building long-term community cohesion and advocacy that can address the multiple needs within Garfield Park. In 2015, the Market was designated an official City of Chicago farmers market and expanded to twice per month.  Going forward, the Market will continue to provide a source for fresh, locally-grown produce, showcase local vendors and artists, and provide nutrition education through food demonstrations and local health providers.  

In 2016, the GPCC began working with Accion Chicago and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago on development of The Hatchery Chicago, a large-scale food incubator that will provide training, mentoring, and production resources for local food entrepreneurs.  Located at Lake and Kedzie and slated to open in 2018, the Hatchery will also include permanent space for the Neighborhood Market and dedicated space for local residents and young people to receive training and support. 

The GPCC's wellness efforts have been recognized through a 2014 award from the CHIditarod Foundation, a 2015 Innovators in Urban Agriculture Prize from the International Network for Urban Agriculture, and as a national finalist for the Garnier Green Gardens Award.