Gary Cuneen

Gary Cuneen launched Oak Park-based Seven Generations Ahead to develop sustainable communities, with the intention of focusing on issues such as water and air quality and smart building. He didn't anticipate food becoming so integral to the urban-planning mission of his group. "Increasingly, we saw the opportunity to carve out a niche role in the local and organic food arena," Cuneen said. And how. Seven Generations Ahead promotes the environmental and health benefits of local, organic and sustainable food in many ways. As a result, it has improved the diets of those it reaches and the bottom line for many small farmers. Cuneen and company connect local growers to farmers markets and more than 300 school-lunch programs. He also has helped set up 18 hubs for community-supported agriculture (where farmers sell directly to consumers). Outreach programs teach kids about farming. "Culturally, [food] is a huge part of who we are," Cuneen said. "It impacts not only the natural environment but also our health so that it has this crossover capacity that touches people in so many ways." Seven Generations Ahead, 642 S. Lombard Ave., Oak Park, 708-660-9909
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