Renewed Roots Initiative (RRI) is a volunteer-based nonprofit microfarm in west Aurora. Our mission is to increase access to heirloom-quality, locally-sourced, and sustainably-grown foods to those that need it most.
we have 4 current initiatives we run to impact the community
1) Sponsored CSA – We partner with area organizations to identify individuals and families in need (primarily low-income seniors and refugees), and provide weekly home deliveries of fresh produce at no charge for the duration of the growing season (20 weeks)
2) Urban Orchard – Volunteer teams locate, monitor, and harvest fruit from edible foliage on public land to boost CSA and food pantry donations.
3) Community Garden – RRI is the only community garden in Aurora to provide on-site water, gardening resources (like tools and compost), and hands-on guidance to help new gardeners succeed. We also manage contributions from individual growers wishing to donate their excess harvest.
4.) Fresh Produce for Pantries - We grow specifically for local pantries to help keep their shelves stocked with fresh produce.
Vision & values
Mission Statement: Growing deeper roots in urban sustainability for individuals and communities to live healthier, more sustainable lives.
Vision: 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:
Promoting Environmental Stewardship
What motivates us
1 in 7 people in the United States struggles with hunger.
The Northern Illinois Food Bank sees similarly concerning numbers:
- 79% of households we serve buy cheaper food, despite knowing it might not be the healthiest, in an effort to feed their family.
- 31% of households we serve have to chose between paying for education and food every year
- 66% of households we serve have to choose between paying for medical care and food every year
- 69% of households we sere have to choose between paying for food and utility bills every year
How we got started
Renewed Roots Initiative (RRI) was founded in 2016 by longtime friends and community organizers 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.
RRI is supported by grants, partnerships, individual and organization volunteers, and the sale of goods at local markets to provide resources needed to fulfill our vision. Please contact us if you would like to partner, volunteer, or sponsor a program.
Community organization partnerships are central to our vision for growth; the Fox Valley has a strong network of organizations enriching lives in our community. By working together, we provide a far greater impact than any could alone.