Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Renewable Living (BOC) is a not for profit organization whose mission is to facilitate communities in being resilient. BOC’s 4 skill building tracts: Renewable Energy Tract, Sustainable Building Tract, Resilience Tract and the Sustainable Agriculture Tract are a way in which the community can acquire the tools to be leaders in a climate uncertain, resource-constrained future.

Our roots have always been in the community.  This picture above is from the 2nd round of  Community Charettes to design the eco-campus in Pembroke Township Il.  It was hosted in 2007 by Architects,  Designers and Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR).  The initial and current aim is for the eco-campus to be a catalytic place where transformation happens.  All participants, including the students of Betty Shabazz and local residents aligned with the idea that the training area be the 1st place to be designed in the most northern point of the campus.

The training area is in dire need of an overhaul.  When the initial design plans were implemented, permaculture design principals were not integral to the planning.  The Life Boat 2018 Permaculture Certification Retreats will take on a total permaculture design make over of the eco-campus training area.


Sustainable Agriculture Tract

Food Production:  Rotating Apprenticeship Farmer Training Pembroke to Chicago (RAFT-PC)

2013-2015:  The USDA, NIFA Beginning Farmer Rancher Development Grant 
was awarded to BOC to cultivate the next generation of Black Farmers.  Over 400 children and adults were exposed to organic farming.  Apprentices learned the basics of farming: both plant production and livestock, permaculture applications, high tunnel production, orchard care, equipment safety, good agricultural practices for post-harvest handling, CSA distribution, setting up and running market stands for retail sales as well as restaurant sales.  Equipment & tool sharing supported limited resource farms in Pembroke.  Apprentices were mentored by successful farmers who are able to generate a livelihood from farming. This has assisted aspiring producers to begin the process of farming.  It has increased local production by black farmers and inspired Apprentices to take up other aspects of local food system development.

2014-2016:  USDA, AMS, Local Food Promotion Program

Two aggregation centers have been generated from this award.  The nation’s first school-based Food Hub, The Lorenzo R. Smith Aggregation Services in the historic farming community of Pembroke Illinois.  We can take up to a truckload of local harvest and prepare it for distribution.  Grading, sorting, packing and repacking for distribution points north can be made ready for local and regional production from the surrounding area as well as Michigan, Indiana and southern points in Illinois.


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