Bringing Hope and Community to the Austin Neighborhood

Austin Harvest grew out of a desire for youth to lead the way for positive community change. In the summer of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 crisis and social justice movement, By The Hand Club youth gathered in healing circles with local police and athletes to process injustice and violence and brainstorm how to create change in their community. Recognizing their neighborhood had substantially more liquor stores than grocery stores, students identified an opportunity to bring fresh produce to local residents.

In less than two months, Austin Harvest opened on the site of a looted liquor store, transforming the far west side neighborhood and bringing fresh produce, entrepreneurship development, and hope to the community. The mission-driven market is entirely student-led, with 15 student entrepreneurs responsible for all aspects of operations including planning, staffing, ordering and inventory management. All revenue generated at the fresh market is invested back into its operations and student stipends.

Austin Harvest fills a significant need in a widely recognized food desert. Originally intended as a single-season pop-up, students were determined to make it a long-term food solution when demand for produce kept the pop-up open well beyond its scheduled closing date in 2020.

Austin Harvest’s permanent building will feature many of the elements of the pop-up market, including the staple orange shipping container and a welcoming patio space to anchor the community. State-of-the-art refrigeration units will enable the students to offer a broader selection of produce while supporting emergency food distribution efforts in partnership with other community nonprofits.

Stay tuned for Austin Harvest Special Events!

Please follow along on Instagram at @austinharvestfreshmarket for updates and more information.

Renderings of New Building

Austin Harvest Timeline

June 2020

Healing Circles take place with BTH students, professional athletes and Chicago Police

Healing Circle

July 2020

Purchased Location

Purchase of Belmonte Cut-Rate Liquor store adjacent to BTH Austin site

August 19, 2020

Austin Harvest Grand Opening!

December 2020

Austin Harvest closes for season

June 2021

Austin Harvest re-opens for season

July 2021


670 The Score host 24-hour radiothon that raises $700K to go towards new building

December 2021

Austin Harvest closes for season

May 7, 2022

Austin Harvest breaks ground on permanent building!

January 2024

Grand Re-Opening

Words From an Entrepreneur

“We knew that we could make a difference through Austin Harvest, but we’re truly overwhelmed by the impact it has had in our community. The best part is knowing that we’ve laid the groundwork for our friends and classmates to serve the Austin neighborhood for years to come.”

Azariah Baker, Founding Member of Austin Harvest

“I am so grateful for all the support and help we have been given. Now we can provide hope and healing year round.”

Keith Tankson, Founding Member of Austin Harvest

“The thing I’ve learned most about food deserts in training is that the cause of them is not the fault of the people who live in them. Even though it’s not our fault, at Austin Harvest I get to be a part of the solution, and that’s incredibly meaningful to me.”

Joshua Taylor, Founding Member of Austin Harvest