Our Story

The 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 Harvest

Produce with Purpose

The Knockout Farm connects to all of our programs in an experiential and therapeutic way, but it is also a food production operation that thrives and yields an efficient harvest that helps us grow our nutritional and wellness programming, while also offering great variety for our catering menus and artisanal pickle production line. Here's a brief rundown of our seasonal totals from 2018.

Total # of Crops in 2018 Season

Total # of Crops Grown from Seed

Season Harvest Total in lbs

Total lbs of Cucumbers

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.

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!

SPECIAL THANKS TO THESE SPONSORS & PARTNERS

SPECIAL THANKS TO THESE SPONSORS & PARTNERS

SPECIAL THANKS TO THESE SPONSORS & PARTNERS

SPECIAL THANKS TO THESE SPONSORS & PARTNERS

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