A Green Oasis on Chicago’s South Side
Thriving Urban Agriculture
Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) has developed a network of gardens, including an 8,000 square foot rooftop garden, a 1.75-acre youth education farm and an environmental education garden. Most recently, a fruit orchard was awarded by the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. In addition, an apiary was started in 2014 and there are currently 80,000 bees producing honey on the youth education garden. Comer Rooftop Crops, a youth-led business initiative, sells specialty crops to Chicago area chefs and helps introduce students to a variety of green career options. GCYC produced over 11,000 pounds of fresh produce in 2014.
An Outdoor Laboratory: Seeds of Learning
Bridging classroom learning with real world applications, the GCYC gardens provide a laboratory for youth to make connections between a wide variety of subjects including agriculture, culinary arts, math, science, arts and literature. The Youth Center’s integrated curriculum enriches understanding, fosters creativity and encourages innovative thinking.
From Seed to Table: Empowering Youth Through Culinary Arts
This unique program provides an opportunity for youth to explore culinary careers, while learning food preparation and cooking skills. With an emphasis on health and nutrition, students experience the complete seed to table cycle. A student catering program serves a healthy snack and nightly dinner for all of its members.
About The Youth Center
Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) was founded in May 2006. The Youth Center’s mission is to graduate all students from high school prepared for college and careers. The Youth Center offers positive extracurricular alternatives in a welcoming and safe environment. Programs within the 80,000 square-foot facility include college readiness, sports and fitness, academic tutoring, performing and visual arts, health and wellness, urban agriculture, culinary arts, media and technology, civic engagement and leadership development, and teen employment. The Youth Center draws its primary membership from the immediate neighborhood of Greater Grand Crossing as well as from other parts of the South Side. It also serves as the home of the South Shore Drill Team, a group of more than 300 young people who perform unique flag, rifle and dance routines. In addition, the Youth Center hosts numerous special events and activities open to the broader public throughout the year. The youth center is now supported by hundreds of generous individuals, corporations and foundations.
The Gary Comer Youth Center needs your help to support its urban agriculture programs. Funds raised support the farm, garden, and many positive extracurricular alternatives in a welcoming and safe environment.