On Thursday, July 24, 2014 the African-American Cultural Center at UIC sponsored a trip to Hopkins Park, Illinois, approximately one hour south of Chicago, Illinois, to visit the Ivy Farm, an African-American farm that is part of the Pembroke Farming Family Association in Kankakee County, Illinois.  Owner, “Pop” Ivy has been a member of the PFFA since 2005 and his main crops include turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, and Amish peas.

Pembroke, Illinois, a historical African-American community, was once incorporated as the village of “Pembroke” and is located within the new village of Hopkins Park in Kankakee County, Illinois.

The purpose of this field trip was to engage students from the UIC Heritage Garden Internship Program ( and the students from God’s Gang (a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and strengthening youth by promoting self-esteem and providing assistance for youth-driven sustainable agriculture projects and initiatives) in a hands-on experience by visiting a farm operated by an African-American farmer.

Along with other community partners such as Reverend Al Sampson of the Fernwood United Methodist Church and John Owens from the Center for New Horizons, Director, Lori Baptista of the UIC African-American Cultural Center, wanted to use this visit as an opportunity for these mostly urban students to have a hands-on experience at a farm operated by an African-American farmer.

Pop Ivy and his wife, Mrs. Ivy have a 10-acre farm, however, at this time, due to a lack of help and unpredictable weather conditions, he only uses 15% of the land.  Our outing happened to coincide with Mr. Ivy’s 81st birthday, and in spite of his age he works diligently six days a week on the farm, saving Sundays for church and relaxation.

As you can see from the photos, the students, UIC staff, and our community partners enjoyed a wonderful outing.  Thank you Reverend Sampson and Mr. and Mrs. Ivy for a memorable day!

Kay (UIC) and Pop IvyMegan (UIC) and Willie (God's Gang)

 “In urban areas, most children know little about where their food comes from and the relationship between their own health, healthy food, healthy regional agriculture, and an overall healthy environment. For many young people, farmers and farming have an almost mythical quality, people and places imagined but not directly experienced. If future generations are going to care about farms and farming they must be directly exposed to the people and places that produce their food.

Quote from “The Farmer’s Guide” – produced by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program

  • Lori Baptista, PhD, Director, African-American Cultural Center at UIC
  • Megan Carney, Director, UIC Gender and Sexuality Center
  • Reverend Al Sampson, Fernwood United Methodist Church
  • Carolyn Thomas, Director, God’s Gang
  • John Owens, Director of Community Building, Center for New Horizons
  • Special thanks to our UIC Bus Driver, Jackson!

Photos courtesy of Jessica Qian Zhang – UIC Heritage Garden Intern