Renewed Roots Initiative (RRI) is a non-profit farm in Aurora, Illinois founded in 2016.
Our neighborhoods are hungry: 1 in 7 people in the United States struggles with hunger. The Northern Illinois Food Bank found that 79% of households they serve buy cheaper food, knowing it is not the healthiest, in order to feed their family.
While many food-equity programs exist today – from federal programs like SNAP to local soup kitchens – they often feed, but do not teach. As a result, each face considerable challenges in meeting the long-term nutritional need of low-income families. Cost, accessibility, variety of choice, education, and social stigma all play into the food choices families make. We believe there is an opportunity to improve the nutritional impact of local food-equity programs and overall health of our community.
Renewed Roots Initiative is dedicated to increasing access to local heirloom and sustainably-grown produce. We believe that empowered individuals will be the progressive change needed to transform communities into sustainable and health-conscious societies. Our initiatives are rooted in three principles: Food Equity, Interactive Education, and Promoting Environmental Stewardship.
Renewed Roots Initiative (RRI) was founded in 2016 by longtime friends Erin Carlisle and Jared Mead and now is operated by six volunteer board members. RRI was born from a shared passion for community revitalization, sustainability, and organic practices.
Prior to RRI, both Jared and Erin established deep ties to the health and wellbeing of Aurora communities through their professional and volunteer efforts. Jared founded Aurora’s first rooftop garden at the River’s Edge Café and urban-agriculture youth education curriculum through Triple Threat Mentoring; Erin launched and led home repair programs, serving hundreds of low income homeowners with thousands of volunteers, for six years with Rebuilding Together Aurora.
These connections were critical to RRI’s early success and speed of development. Within six months of founding, RRI secured 9 acres of land, established a 14-plot community garden, and grew 2,500 pounds of heirloom-quality produce for the Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry – serving area veterans, seniors, and low-income families.
In preparation for the 2017 growing season, RRI doubled the tilled farm space (now .5 acres), established wholesale distribution outlets to provide sustainable funding sources, and is developing programs to more directly serve hungry refugee and low-income families.
Partnerships are key to our success and sustainability. We partner with local non-profits, churches, food pantries, markets, and restaurants on collaborative community projects, to distribute our produce, and to provide educational programs.
Our first community partner, provides nine acres of land
We donate produce weekly during harvest season
Provides growing space for starts and seed storage
Generously donates seeds and starts
Generously donates seeds, starts, produce, and guidance
Provides land maintenance support
Grant funding for critical farm infrastructure
Event and promotion partner
Sponsor family connections
1921 Jericho Rd, Aurora, IL