Est. 2015

HISTORY OF THE OK FARM

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.

Knockout Impact

FARM STATS

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.

Total # of Crops

Total # of Volunteer Hours Worked

total # of cucumbers

Total # of KCC Menus

Biodiversity

The Warrior Way of Farming

We believe the farm serves a purpose in our mission to help us facilitate a high quality and fully-accessible experience. We have built a stage that creates an opportunity for Warriors to perform, create and interact in a meaningful way. Our farming practices are organic and we believe in biodiversity. The farm is an ongoing work in progress and we continue to build systems that promote an enviornmentally responsible food system. Check out some of the things we do by scrolling thru the grid below.

Accessibility

We continue to invest in the infrastructure of the farm so that all who come to it have the ability to connect. In that, we have established fully accessible walkways & raised beds. We are also working to landscape paved paths to reach the upper berms of the farm. The work continues!

Organic Growth

We grow with organic practices. We do not use any chemical fertilizers, pesticides or artifical agents. Our soil is sourced from our own compost system and from a third-party partner that guarantees organic constitution.

Water Reclamation

With guidance from our friends at the U of I Ag Extension and funding from the Oak Park Community Mental Health Board, we’ve installed a rainwater catchment system that captures rainwater from the Reuse Depot’s downspouts so that we can reuse for irrigation at the farm.

Composting

We grow our own produce for 5 out of 12 monts of the year. When we are pulling food from the farm, it goes straight to your plate. Salads, sides, apps and vegetarian-based menus come from seed to harvest.

Seed Starting

Some of our desserts are wrapped in bacon. Some of them are just regular, non-bacon-wrapped delicious. Our sweet treats are a growing menu, but we have to offer tried, tested and true. Bacon and brownes!

Beekeeping

Sandwiches of all kinds. Burgers. Pulled meats. Etc. Meats that are delicious on their own, but made even better by the addition of the line of Knockout Pickles. Dill-icious pickles and delicious meats.

Innovation

Warriors at Work

Our approach to the catering experience features high quality, fresh ingredients and a scratch made menu. In addition to that committment to great food, is a committment to creating quality experiences for Warriors to do quality work.

Top Skills

Meet the Warrior Farm Team

Our aim is to sustain meaningful and gainful vocational skill-building opportunities, while also producing a revenue stream to support OK operations. Our Knockout purpose is to support an environment where Warriors can showcase and grow their abilities, while working in a collaborative team setting to make and serve high-quality food.

Aniki Coates

Farm Coordinator

Program Leader for Opportunity Knocks

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 Dansby

Farm Warrior

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).

Don’t Miss

Our News And Events

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Programming on the Farm

We believe the farm is a space that can connect with so many of the things we are aiming to do as an organization. It is the ultimate equal playing field for our community of Warriors to be together working with their hands in the dirt. We have established the farm as an ongoing initiative in our After Opps and Life Shop programs. When the farm is in season, we are out there nearly every day of the week enjoying the labor and the therapy of these hallowed grounds.

Enterprise on the Farm

We started the farm with a firm belief in the benefits it would bring our wellness programming, but we were equally committed to the potential it had to embed as the centerpiece or our enterprise programming pursuits. We believe in the importance of growing and eating healthy. We also believe in the abilities of our Warriors. What better space to build so that our purpose could play out with these Warriors at work showing off their skills as peers in the local food system, taking high quality food from seed to harvest to table.

Grower’s School

Learning and growing go hand in hand on the Knockout Farm. So much so that we have developed our own approach to educating Warriors about farming by way of The Grower’s School curriculum. This 8-week program aims to educate about farming and instill a sense of ownership in the Knockout Farm. Warriors wil take a comprehensive approach to learning, focusing on food systems, biodiversity, wellness, nutrition, composting, soil anatomy, plant anatomy, pollination, local and seasonal foods and more!

Helping Hands

Partners

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO BUILD A FARM

We are deeply grateful to the many volunteers, donors and partners who have showed up throughout the first few seasons of the farm to transform a barren grass field into a highly productive urban farm. Our partners have given endlessly to help us build the infrastructure of the farm. We have called in the pros we know to do so many things. From testing soil and water, to consulting on logistics, water conservation and aggregate acquisitions; to hauling, excavating, landscaping, patio paving, carpentry and more.

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!

Sponsors & Partners

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