As a perk to our valued customers, we offer on-site farmer's markets events. These fun events have been a big hit at campuses and businesses across the Chicago area. If you are a current client and are interested in hosting such an event, please contact us.
Farm fresh produce and support for people with disabilities will intertwine when Rush University Medical Center hosts a farmer’s market on Thursday, June 26, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. outside the south entrance of Rush’s Atrium Building, 1620 W. Harrison St. (just west of Ashland Ave.). Crops from an urban farm tended by people with autism and other disabilities will be among the produce available, and the market’s sponsors will donate the first $500 of sales from to Rush’s Autism Assessment, Research and Treatment Services (AARTS) Center.
The 13,000 square foot Growing Solutions Farm, located in the Illinois Medical District on Chicago’s West Side, provides vocational training and workforce development for young adults with autism and other disabilities. Established last year, the farm is a program of the Julie and Michael Tracy Family Foundation in Glen View, which also is a supporter of Rush’s AARTS Center. The Tracys’ 21-year-old son John, who has autism and has received treatment at Rush, is among the more than 30 people who work at Growing Solutions.
“We are beyond excited at this opportunity,” Julie Tracy says. “People that are benefitting from the AARTS Center now are participating in a farming operation that’s selling food to Rush staff.”
Rush’s AARTS Center serves patients from pre-school age through their 20s, providing thorough assessments of their capabilities, needs and physical and mental health, and offering a combination of advanced medical and psychological treatments. An AARTS Center social worker has provided vocational coaching for the people working on the Growing Solutions Farm, who include residents of a nearby group home for people with autism that the Tracy Foundation opened in June.
The farmer’s market will be operated and is being sponsored by T. Castro Produce, a wholesale produce distribution company in southwest Chicago, which is owned by people with disabilities. Co-owners Tom Castro and his nephew, Tom Prinske, both are legally blind from a disease that runs in their family.
An advocate for people with disabilities, Prinske felt compelled by his personal experiences to make the contribution to the AARTS Center. “You can have a disability and do positive things. You can work, you can run a business, you can be effective, you can cause change,” he says. “People with disabilities need to be given a chance, and if this program helps them, I want to participate in it.”
Rush is nationally recognized as a leader in providing access and employment and educational opportunities to people with disabilities, and hosting the farmer’s market further extends this commitment. “It is another opportunity to reach out to the disability community and say Rush is here in the middle of the West Side and want to help,” says Paula Brown, “This time, we can help with creating jobs for people with disability.”
Although it’s early in Illinois’ growing season, the Growing Solutions Farm already has yielded chard, kale and kitchen herbs that will be for sale at the Rush farmer’s market. The market also will offer a full range of fruits and vegetables from asparagus to zucchini provided by Castro’s suppliers across the country.
“It’s as fresh it could be, the quality is beautiful, and it is extremely inexpensive,” Prinske says. “You’re going to have a great experience here.”
This orchard grows apples, pears, and plums.
Fruits are the specialty in Barthel farm, they grown strawberries,apples, pears, and plums.
Big John has an 80 acre farm and grows a variety of items such as; green, jalapeno, poblano, banana peppers, round, roma, and grape tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow, butternut, acorn and spaghetti squash. This extremely local farmer gets a real good look from us each year.
Melons and a variety of vegetables are harvested in this farm.
This 2500 acre farm has been our local supplier for leafy products such as green leaf, red leaf, romaine, spinach and head lettuce. These items are typically only available from California however, with the technology improving over the past several years in pre-cooling; these items now meet the quality standards for our clients and have reduced our carbon footprint with these products by over 2000 miles during their two month growing season.Other things grown here are beets, radishes, celery, onions, kale, leeks, zucchini, dill, and other greens.
Vegetables like potatoes, peppers, cabbage, and sweet corn are all grown in this Illinois farm.
All kinds of delicious and crispy apples are found in this orchard.
Goebbert’s has been in the farming business since 1948 and if you’ve received pumpkins from us in the fall, there’s a good chance they came from George Goebbert’s farm. Other things grown here are green beans, green peppers, onions, squash, sweet corn, and zucchini.
Fresh and delicious beets, carrots, eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes are grown in the farm.
Hydroponic lettuces and herbs are grown in this Clarksville farm.
Jack's Fresh Produce specializes in melons, peppers, eggplant, summer squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
Acorn Squash , Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash
Hydroponic Lettuces, Herbs
Marcoot Jersey Creamery makes all kind of delicious artisan cheeses.
Asparagus, cantaloupes, cucumbers, sweet corn, and watermelon are all grown here in Melon Acres.
A large variety of crops are grown here some of which include green beans, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini, and sweet corn.
In this Indiana farm you can find watermelon and pumpkins.
This potato farmer strictly grows potatoes for processing and due to his storage ability, he has product available mostly all year round. The fresh whole peeled, sliced, diced, quartered that we have provided you with for years, originates from this farm and is processed in Evanston IL.
Red Potatoes is the main crop here.
Phil's Fresh Eggs specializes in cage free eggs.
A variety of squash and fall vine crops are grown in Pleasant Valley Acres.
Apples, Peaches, Nectarines
This Michigan farm grows parsnips, turnips, beets, and a variety of squash.
In this berry farm you can find strawberries and raspberries.
The specialty here are mushrooms like shiitake and white button.
Grown here are onions, carrots, and parsnips.
The farm has been run by Jose Lugo “Picos” for over 25 years. Picos crops include all tomato items, a variety of peppers, cilantro and cukes. After visiting the farm you can quickly learn how much care the Williams family and Picos puts into the quality of their products as well as excellent working conditions for more than 150 employees. Other produce grown here are roma, Round & Cherry Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, and Cilantro.
We provide our company’s certifications which are in good standing in the state of Illinois, city of Chicago and the United States Business Leadership Network. T. Castro Produce is one hundred percent owned and operated by persons with disabilities, and a certified member of all three entities.
These certifications can be utilized by our clients as a tool to help them meet certain minority requirements or fulfill internal diversity initiatives. The links below will further help you understand more about each of these programs and learn how business owners with disabilities are becoming more accepted in diversity programs across the nation.
"As one of the owners of T. Castro Produce, I can state that our company is committed to our local farmers. I believe more and more each day that our company must contribute to our country’s initiatives regarding sustainability. Our type of business has a direct impact on this overall effort and it makes good ecological sense, as well as good business sense. We have taken the approach in having direct contact and will continue to visit our local farmers throughout the planting and harvesting season, in an effort to deepen our commitments and relationships with this very important piece of our supply chain. Furthermore, we are also committed to you, our customer, to provide you with more information to pass through your companies, in an effort to help you show your commitments to sustainability. We will continue to provide information on local products, identifying farmers, offering on site markets and more. We know how important this is to us all so let’s continue to push."
Vice President and Partner, Tom Prinske
This is even more evident in the fresh produce industry. As a result, we have in place our “Local Farmers Program” that extends to our clients, and their clients. We believe that it is important to utilize our local farmers and suppliers whenever possible. Moreover, we believe that it is essential to provide current and accurate evidence and data supporting these relationships. To this end, we provide to all of our customers our local farmers information and our company data which supports their utilization.
In addition, we also provide on-site local farmers markets to our clients.
We appreciate your interest in doing business with us. Here you'll find details about our business that provide answers to commonly asked questions.
Our twenty thousand foot warehouse is strategically based in the heart of the city of Chicago’s distribution terminal. Our state-of-the-art six thousand square feet of coolers that accommodate various temperatures for the full variety of fresh produce we maintain. These coolers range in temperatures that assure freshness from 36F for items such as apples, potatoes, lettuces, pre-cut products, and berries to name a few, to 55F for bananas, pineapples, avocados, tomato items and herbs. Our ability to keep products at a variety of temperatures assures our customers the maximum quality, shelf life and flavor upon receiving their products.
We believe it is important to also provide our customers with the assurances that support our claims. To that end, we undergo an extensive annual third party facility audit from a qualified company that examines all aspects of our operation, offers recommendations, provides information to make us compliant to the changes in the industry each year, and grades our overall efficiency. As stated this ensures and supports our claims that our facility meets and exceeds industry standard for essential practices such as product traceability, cleanliness, safety and security to name just a few.
In addition, we welcome you to our facility for a tour, and we offer our facility audit results to our clients for their records each year.
Our specialized software program is designed to assist our customers from the time they order through our available reporting, which can provide detail on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Our office personnel has over 8 years of experience with our company on average. Not only are we extremely knowledgeable in our industry but, we have the ability to source out and deliver mostly any products in the food service industry.
We take pride in helping our customers in tight situations when other vendors have let them down or their client has a special need. We believe it is essential for our clients to have a vendor to fall back on when these situations occur and, we want to be that vendor.
Problems are dealt with immediately through direct communication to the office. Despite who may be responsible, we make sure that the customers’ needs are addressed and to their satisfaction. We view emergency deliveries as part of our business and do all we can to service your needs. We are dedicated to help your facility function at its’ best by our contribution to quality and service.
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