I’m Dulce Morales, manager of Cedillo’s Fresh Produce urban farm in Chicago with my husband and business co-founder, Juan Cedillo. Since 2017, Cedillo’s Fresh Produce (CFP) has grown and sold a wide variety of locally and organically grown vegetables at community-based farmers markets in south Chicago. I lead our farm’s marketing and outreach.
Cedillo’s Fresh Produce began our operation in 2017 at Angelic Organics Learning Center’s Eat to Live incubator farm in Englewood. We market our vegetables through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and farmers markets. In 2019, we sold 15 CSA shares and at 6 different markets but shifted to sell 30 CSA shares this year in response to coronavirus, because we worried that many markets wouldn’t open. Our CSA shares sold out within 2 weeks, proving demand for their food is growing, and we will still sell at 2 farmers markets. We also coordinate volunteers and production at the Princeton Street community garden, which is located directly across the street from the incubator farm.
Part of our success is due to the fact that CFP intentionally grows food for African-American and Mexican communities who live in our local neighborhoods. Local residents have historically only had access to foods detrimental to their physical health, at supermarkets selling vegetables shipped in from other places. CFP wants to ensure everyone has access to delicious, locally-grown organic produce. We’ve seen demand for our vegetables continue to grow and often are tagged on social media by many of our excited CSA customers when they cook with our produce. We’re excited to see how people utilize our produce and also how happy they are with the freshness of our vegetables.
We currently sell at Plant Chicago, at Davis Square Park and we’re also active in establishing new markets. We’ve worked closely with the Jardineros de la Villita Coalition for the past two years to establish a new farmers market in Chicago’s primary Mexican neighborhood, La Villita. CFP will be one of 6 farmers to offer fresh, organic and locally grown produce in this neighborhood for the first time this summer.
A big part of the incubating experience is about sharing knowledge, resources, and even helping hands when necessary. Cedillo’s Fresh Produce has benefited from what others have shared, and we’re now at the point of paying it forward. We participated in Advocates for Urban Agriculture’s Farmers Mentorship Program, which was a grant program designed to pair up farmers with a few years’ experience with brand new farmers. Within this program, we were able to share our experience growing for African American and Mexican communities with Catatumbo Co-op, a new farming cooperative with a similar mission. It was a wonderful experience where we could turn around and offer similar help that we’ve received from Angelic Organics Learning Center, Windy City Harvest and Plant Chicago to other beginning farmers.
It would be a great honor to win Routes to Farm’s Beginning Farmer of the Year award. We are passionate about farming and growing organic produce, and are equally passionate about supporting lower income communities with fresh, healthy food, especially in difficult times like these. If I’m honest, there are times we neglect our own needs in order to fulfil our life’s passion. This award will raise visibility of our farm within the community to help us increase business, which will in turn help us support our family. Whether working at the Eat to Live incubator farm or at the Princeton Street community garden, we are dedicated to being an oasis of fresh organic food for our neighbors and fellow low income community members. Thank you so much for your vote.