Carbondale Spring - Food Autonomy Fund


This fund was established Carbondale Spring to support food autonomy in Southern Illinois.

By “food autonomy,” we mean the creation of a healthy, local system for growing and distributing food, made available to all — with preference for the most vulnerable to food insecurity — outside of the barriers posed by both the market and government food assistance programs. In other words: we grow and distribute free food to those who need it in a sustainable way.

Food autonomy is our solution to food insecurity, and to the industrial agricultural system that is ecologically destructive, leading to water pollution, soil destruction, and reliant on fossil fuels and fragile global distribution chains. It is a long-term goal — not something built in a year or two. Rather, it provides us strategic orientation, letting us name the kind of food system we are trying to build.

In 2020, the Food Autonomy initiative built a coalition of community gardens, built a dozen chicken coops in backyards throughout the area, and distributed over a thousand pounds of fresh, free food.
- The Food Autonomy Initiative has organized the sharing of resources and labor among the following growing projects:
- The Washington Street Garden
- The Red Hen Garden, operated by Women For Change
- The Chestnut St Teaching Garden, located by the housing projects on Chestnut St. and operated by a neighbor
- The Birch St. Food Forest

During the Spring and Summer of 2020, we were able to pay workers in these gardens, in addition to coordinating a large volunteer base. Bags of fresh vegetables were distributed door to door to neighbors on nearby streets. What has not been distributed directly has been donate to the Southern Illinois Collaborative Kitchen.

The Food Autonomy Initiative has also constructed 12 chicken coops -- 10 inside Carbondale, 2 nearby. We worked with local architectural designer Jessica Allee, who designed a beautiful coop in accordance with the City of Carbondale's ordinance standards. After building a prototype, our friends at Little River Research & Design allowed us to use their facility to mass produce ten "coop kits," which were distributed to the homes of those participating in the project. Coops were assembled by volunteers, and 6 chickens were supplied for each coop.

These coops and chickens were offered to residents free of charge, on the condition that the chickens are well cared for and surplus eggs are shared among neighbors. 5 of the coops have been built in the Northeast side of Carbondale, 4 in the Northwest side, 1 in the Southeast side, and 2 outside of town.

Our ultimate aim is to secure from the Carbondale city government funds redirected from the Carbondale Police Department to continue and expand the production of Food Autonomy in Carbondale, because we believe access to healthy food is a matter of public safety.

We are grateful for any donations that can help us to build this important community infrastructure in the meantime, while we wait for our city government to catch up with the needs and desires of our community.


Food Autonomy Initiative Board of Directors:

Marilyn Tipton

Deborah Woods

Jessica Lynn

Nicholas Smaligo

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