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Meet the businesses in Plant Chicago's Circular Economy Leaders Network 2021, Part 2

Last month, we shared the first post of a 3-part series announcing the members of our Circular Economy Leaders Network 2021 cohort. Below is a glimpse into the other Chicago-based small businesses that joined the network and the circular economy goals they’re working on! See our Small Business page for the complete list of 2021 network members.

Back of the Yards Coffee is an artisanal coffeehouse founded by Back of the Yards natives Jesse Iniguez and Mayra Hernandez. While the team has already strived to source beans directly from farmers and hire local workers, their focus as members of the Circular Economy Leaders Network (CELN) will be to implement package-free/reuse stations at select retail stores - including Plant Chicago’s Firehouse Market!

Blue Tin Production is a garment manufacturing workers cooperative focused on ethical labor and sustainable production. Led by immigrant, refugee, and working-class women of color, the team aims to reduce their total amount of fabric waste - which has already been lowered to 9% - by 1% every year.

Bridge & Bloom Farms is a ⅛ acre urban farm located in the Legends South neighborhood on the south side of Chicago. Founded by Danika Jackson and Plant Chicago’s very own Program Coordinator Kathleen Valez, both graduates of Windy City Harvest’s apprenticeship program, Bridge & Bloom Farms will work on developing a reuse model for the distribution of select products.

Cedillo’s Fresh Produce is a small family farm based in Englewood that sells organic vegetables at farmers markets and through their CSA program available to Englewood and Back of the Yards residents. This year, the team is working on reducing their excess harvest from 30% to 10%.

Contemporary Farmer, Inc., led by David Toledo, is a West Town-based producer of microgreens and resident of Plant Chicago’s Indoor Victory Garden. Contemporary Farmer, Inc.’s goal focuses on transitioning away from their plastic clamshells to a more circular option.

Silvestro Design Operations is a small architecture, design, and planning firm based in Bronzeville. Founder James Silvestro will host a local intern to conduct circular economy based research and work for the firm.

CultureBox offers a monthly subscription box of fermentation products, sourcing many ingredients from local farmer’s markets, farms, and Chicago businesses. As part of their circular economy goal, CultureBox will partner with other CELN members to serve as a “safety valve” outlet for experimental and excess crops.

HEIRS Farm is a newly launched microfarm and member of Plant Chicago’s Indoor Victory Garden with a mission to address the lack of food accessibility on Chicago’s south side. Their goal is to work on sourcing circular packaging for the transportation of select crops.

Mycocycle uses the science of mycology to divert toxic materials from the landfill and transform them into renewable byproducts. As a member of CELN, Mycocycle will pilot a recollection program to serve as an outlet for other small businesses’ agri-waste.

MB Strategic Consulting LLC is a sustainability consulting firm led by Maru Braemer. Maru’s circular economy focus has been to work with independent pet food stores on increasing the recyclability of pet food packaging.


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