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Community Wellness

The Kumba Tre-Ahm Community Garden won a Chicago Excellence in Gardening Award in 2018

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.  

Some of the GPCC's primary wellness efforts include:

  • Enhance green space through the Garfield Park Garden Network, a coalition of 32 green spaces and community gardens, and the Garfield Park Community Eco-Orchard, now under development.
  • Increase access to healthy food through the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market, which sells produce grown by the Garfield Park Garden Network, local gardens and urban farms, and hosts local food and beverage businesses, as well as members of The Hatchery Chicago. The Neighborhood Market also incorporates nutrition education and healthy cooking and food demonstration activities.
  • Create opportunities for youth to work toward community health through the Youth Garden Corps, a paid summer internship in which local teens gain horticultural and job readiness experience through work in community gardens and at the Neighborhood Market.
  • Promote healthy, active lifestyles for children and adults through community events like PlayStreets, block parties that encourage physical activity, and events that encourage bicycling and increase daily physical activity in the neighborhood.
  • Promote public safety, including the reduction of retaliatory gun violence, through partnership with other neighborhood organizations through Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), a city-wide coalition organized by Metropolitan Family Services. Working with the lead agencies Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park and the Institute for Nonviolence in West Garfield Park, the GPCC hosts Light in the Night events to connect families to street-level outreach workers. 

Since 2010, the centerpiece of wellness efforts over the past several years has been the steady development of the Garfield Park Garden Network and the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market. The Garden Network is a 32-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 Allies for Community Business and the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago on the development of The Hatchery, a large-scale food incubator that will provide training, mentoring, and production resources for local food entrepreneurs. Located at Lake and Kedzie, The Hatchery opened in late 2018 and will also include permanent space for the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market and dedicated space for local residents and young people to receive training and support. 

The Garfield Park Neighborhood Market will operate four summer market dates during the 2020 season. Markets will be held on the second Saturday and the following Thursday of each month between July and October. In previous seasons, the market has offered ten outdoor markets during the regular season, in addition to several pop-up indoor markets throughout the year. 

As a response to public safety concerns regarding a spike in retaliatory gun violence in the neighborhood in 2017, the GPCC began offering "Light in the Night" violence prevention community events. Light in the Night events are sponsored by Communities Partnering 4 Peace (CP4P), a citywide initiative convened by Metropolitan Family Services and working in specific neighborhoods to reduce violence and build community cohesion around safe public space while also giving productive alternatives and access to services for all residents. Street-level violence intervention workers and case managers are also available at these events to connect with the potential perpetrators and victims of violent crimes and to provide supportive services. Safe spaces provide free food and activities during events. Light in the Night events take place in the evenings during the summer months, typically from 6 - 10 pm. Additional indoor activities occur throughout the year. 

The GPCC's wellness efforts have been recognized through 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.