Industry // Urban Agriculture
Role // Design Researcher

Sweet Water Foundation(SWF) is an organization that focuses on empowering under-served communities through arts and urban farming initiatives. In a team of two, we had a 3-day immersive experience with the staff through interviews and observation. We later developed personas and findings and presented the paper prototypes to the staff and the founder.

The Ask

How might we share SWF’s mission and stories in succinct and compelling ways to its diverse audience?


We started an afternoon with observations and interactions with at the sweet water foundations, where we learned the unique position SWF takes through different creative collaborations to make the South side of Chicago a better place. The following day, our team conducted in-depth interviews with SWF staff and created a collection of personas.

Insights from Research:
  • SWF’s resident chef shared stories of how young people’s views of certain foods (especially vegetables) often shift after they help prepare a meal and/or eat fresh vegetables they just harvested.
  • A civic leader shared that SWF is not getting the exposure it deserves within Chicago and suggested that students studying Urban Planning at local universities should do a rotation at SWF.
  • SWF is addressing fundamental problems by providing access to healthy food, jobs, education & community.
  • SWF’s emphasis on growing and serving healthy food have been successful in raising awareness and bringing people together.


From the insights through the research, we learned that the stigma of violence with the south side is overpowering the positivity. These insights led to the ideas below for outreach to potential corporate and philanthropic partners.

To shed a new light in SWF and the local communities, we focused on creating an experience to expose potential funders and partners to the magic at SWF to drive funding and collaborations.

Potential outreach and partnership


We designed a program to show the different activities – urban farming, cooking, community building at each facility. The sequence is intentional, connecting experience from one place to another. Going through this tour will give the participants a holistic understanding about urban farming. They would understand the effect of nutritional food on the body and share the meal prepared with their community.

The tour ends with a “Thank You” package which contains seeds that can be planted in the participants’ own communities.

Understanding the fundamental of cooking & it’s importance in our everyday life
Understand farming & Pick your own veggies
Understanding the fundamental of cooking & it’s importance in our everyday life
Learning about nutritional food
Community Hall - a place where community is formed around people and food.