Chicago grower chosen for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program

Laurell Sims of Urban Growers Collective is the first farmer to be chosen for the James Beard Foundation’s fourth annual Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program. The foundation chose Laurell Sims as well as 24 other women from across the U.S.

Sims, of Urban Growers Collective in Bridgeport, is the first farmer to be chosen for the fellowship. Her team, along with Urban Grower co-founder Erika Allen (the daughter of Milwaukee-based urban agriculture pioneer Will Allen) offer programming for youth and adults including basic growing techniques, job training, and new farmer incubation. There are currently over 200 teens in the program.

“We don’t want all those kids to be farmers but we do want them to know there are places for them in the food industry,” Sims says. “There are so many outlets for being a part of that system as a consumer or if you make it your career — you have power there and you can help influence it.”

Read more about the program and the election at

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