Pembroke

Township, IL

our eco-campus in

Our 40-acre eco-campus is located in Pembroke Township, 40 miles south of Chicago, Illinois. 100% of our energy comes from solar power (with a generator on cloudy days, for an interim time), and our water comes from a well. All buildings were built by the community, with a minimal carbon footprint.

We are proud to carry forward the tradition of land stewardship, which dates back to the indigenous people of this land, the Potawatomi, and the Black farmers who settled here in the mid-1800s. To read more about the history of our area and the Kankakee Sands, click here.

Sustainable Farming

The 10-acre teaching farm is located on our eco-campus, and we farm an additional 40 acres on neighboring land through our Farmland Restoration Initiative. We are dedicated to revitalizing sustainable farming in this historic Black farming community.  

To meet the food needs during COVID-19, this Spring we expanded from farming 7 acres to 50 acres. In addition to growing a range of vegetables, greens, and melons, this year we are also growing grains and beans.

We are excited to begin four-season production this winter, and will be growing leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, beets, onions, carrots and cilantro. In 2021, we will expand to livestock production. We also have 18 laying hens and 19 guinea fowl, and in 2021 plan to offer eggs to customers as well.

Every aspect of farm production, from seed to market is done using organic inputs and heirloom non-GMO seeds; rooted in permaculture principles. 

Teaching Garden

This 1/2 acre is designed to offer youth and adults a safe and nourishing introduction to caring for the environment, and basic organic farming principles. The garden includes a 30 x 50 ft Teaching Tunnel, which extends our growing season.

In the South side of the teaching garden, you will find the Ancenstral Healing Circle. This circle offers visitors the opportunity to acknolwedge how colonialism and capitalism have violated our sacred relationship to the Earth. It encourages us to restore the deep indigenous bond, that is in all of our ancestry.

Teaching Field

Since 2013, we have been training the next generation of farmers in organic, biodynamic, and ecological practices. 

The 10-acre teaching field, located in the Southwest of the eco-campus, is where we teach field production. Trainees and apprentices learn everything from fertigation to cover cropping.

The Teaching Field includes the KIVA high tunnel (97ft X 30 ft) for extended growing production.

Carter Cabin

A private residence. In 2009 The Carter Family repurposed this 580 square foot Menonite storage unit to become their home, complete with a wood stove. 

G Ma Cabin

A private residence, this cabin is where Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter's mother lived. The daughter of a sharecropping family from Becker, Mississippi, she loved being part of establishing the eco-campus.

We affectionately called her "fire woman," because she, like the rest of the Burns family, loved to have a fire going all day. She helped create protocols that prepared us for our winters.  

Her cabin will be the future patient care space for Dr. Wright-Carter to serve the community.

Commons Cabin

A straw-bale structure that houses the the laundry area, bath and composting toilets. This structure has passive solar design--which both conserves and takes advantage of light and heat from the sun.

Outdoor Dining Area

A generous contribution from Chef Tsadakeeyah of Majani Restaurant.

With wooden tables and benches, this dining area can seat up to 80, for a lively community meal.

Betty Shabazz CommUnity Yurt

This healing space is named in honor of Betty Shabazz, a great educator, nurse and activist, and wife of Malcolm X. Betty Shabazz was also Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter’s mentor.

Originally built in 2009, a large restoration project is currently underway. The yurt has a 30-foot diameter, and will be equipped with a stove for heating, enabling year-round use.

Lee A. Burns Reference Library

Dr. Jifunza Wright-Carter's maternal uncle, Lee Andrew Burns was well known in the Black community in Detroit, where he was a leader of the urban farming movement in the 1990s.

 

He spent one and a half years homesteading the eco-campus, laid down roads, and built a number of the initial structures. He is the closest we know to George Washington Carver.

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Black Oaks Center  |  6735 South Chicago Ave.  |  Chicago, IL 60637  |  (773) 410-3446

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