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Growing Home is the leading social enterprise focused on empowering people and communities with Chicago’s first USDA-Certified Organic, high-production urban farms. With farms in the Englewood and Back of the Yards neighborhoods, as well as the 10-acre Les Brown Memorial Farm in Marseilles, Illinois, Growing Home seeks to operate, promote, and demonstrate the use of organic agriculture as a vehicle for job training, employment, and community development.
Every year, Growing Home hires committed Chicagoans and trains them in all aspects of production and distribution on our farms. Production Associates help staff run the social enterprise and, in the process, prepare themselves to reenter the workforce. Our farms are market-driven workplaces where staff persons act as supervisors and expect Production Associates to be on time, reliable, and work with a sense of urgency to meet production driven deadlines. In the classroom, Production Associates set and achieve goals that will move them into permanent & sustainable jobs after Growing Home. While taking on a variety of individual goals, ranging from restoring a suspended driver’s license to sealing past criminal convictions, our graduates also learn how to become reliable employees.
Growing Home develops innovative agricultural initiatives with economic development potential, working in communities where we can make a positive difference. In 2011, Growing Home’s Wood Street Urban Farm grew and sold over 13,000 pounds of local, USDA Certified Organic produce, with over $45,000 in earned income. Growing Home sells its produce at the Green City Market, through a Community Supported Agriculture program, and to fine Chicago restaurants. Additionally, Growing Home holds a weekly farm stand for our neighbors in Englewood and provides programming on healthy cooking and nutrition to bring healthy options to this food desert.
Growing Home is a leader in advocating for local healthy food systems. Our staff speaks regularly on urban agriculture policy issues and sits on numerous city- and nation-wide committees focusing on urban agriculture, food security, and food access. Growing Home, along with the Chicago Community Trust, founded the Greater Englewood Urban Agriculture Task Force to plan an economic restoration in the community focusing on urban agriculture as a catalyst.