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OUR PURPOSE ON THE FARM IS TO LEARN, GROW AND CONNECT WITH OUR COMMUNITY WHILE WE PRODUCE HIGH QUALITY VEGETABLES TO FEED OUR ENTERPRISES AND FUEL OUR WELLNESS PROGRAMS.
The OK Farm was conceived in late 2015 as a way to give the Warriors a role in the local sustainable food movement by creating a ‘seed to jar’ experience with our Knockout Pickle
production. The idea was to plant, grow and harvest the key supply requirements in order to produce a locally grown and locally made pickle.
The Farm was launched in April through a land partnership with our friends at Reuse Depot and a tremendous amount of support from many others in terms of volunteer hours,
landscape/garden supplies and equipment. In a short period of time, we turned a 2,500 square foot field off Madison Street into lush, handicap-accessible urban farm.
Of course, the Warriors were in on the action every step of the way. Teams from both Life Shop and After Opps shoveled dirt, planted seeds, watered, weeded and harvested crops throughout the summer and fall. A generous donation of crushed gravel enabled us to convert muddy alleys between beds into pathways that were handicap accessible and remained usable during rainy
periods. We also created 22-bed feet of raised boxes that provided crop access to participants in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.
Our purpose on the farm is to learn, grow and connect with our community while we produce high quality vegetables to feed our enterprises and fuel our wellness programs.
She is a certified beekeeper, a Master Urban Farmer through the University of Illinois and a graduate of the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Sustainable Urban Agriculture program as well as an Environmental Literacy Educator. She is also a professional chef and Culinary Nutritionist with a focus on plant-based cuisine and food literacy. The Knockout Farm is “operated with love at its core and incorporates a mission of plant and people growth in its practices.” As a certified Horticultural Therapist, she enjoys incorporating programming activities to develop Warriors in vocational and social skills and while providing physical therapy. Aniki is currently pursuing her graduate degree in clinical mental health counseling. She infuses her Love Warrior mentality and lifestyle into creating effective, holistic programming and methodologies that uproot any notion of lack or incapability for participants. “We all came here as a gift, a solution, as an answer. When we learn to void the internal distractions that try to block this truth, we more readily receive guidance and empowerment to do and become. The world is groaning for us to become.”
Jonece began with Opportunity Knocks as a volunteer referred through ‘The Answer Inc program located in Forest Park, IL. Her effervescent personality and heart for others has served Opportunity Knocks diligently for nine years and counting. In 2019, Jonece became the first official Warrior employee of the Knockout Farm where she is honing her skills in sustainable urban agriculture. Aside from learning to grow plants, vocational skills learned at the farm such as record keeping, beginning project management, and paying attention to details are invaluable and transferable to any work she chooses to do in the future! “I love to make people happy and feel good,” Jonece said when asked what was her favorite activity at Knockout Farm. Of all Jonece’s learned skills at Opportunity Knocks, what emanates instinctively and without measure is what she came to share with us and the world, her love for others. Jonece is currently in training to for food farm safety and sanitation and insect and pest management (IPM).
That amount of support does not even include our volunteers! We have been fortunate to bring so many friends to the farm to help us with site prep and construction to planting, weeding and harvesting and every other farm job in between. We have received an enormous amount of support from neighbors, friends, staff, community and corporate partners. It has been a community effort in every sense of the word and we are convinced that it takes a village to build a farm!