Inspiring healthy living, economic opportunity, and community empowerment in Englewood
Mission and Vision
That’s why we’ve been helping people find meaningful careers through skills learned while farming since 2002. Growing Home is Chicago’s leading expert in farm-based training for people with employment barriers. By providing 25 hours per week of paid on-the-job experience and job-readiness training at our farms, plus the support to conquer issues like criminal records, medical needs, child-care, and housing, we have changed the lives of hundreds of workers, and thousands of their family members.
We start people on the path to self-sufficiency. When people have jobs, they have economic stability in their lives; this stability allows for healthy people and families. But we don’t stop there: we use our unique model to impact neighborhoods with the greatest need. That’s why our farms are located in Englewood, a community on the South side of Chicago that has been under-served for decades and has extremely high rates of unemployment and poverty, hundreds of acres of vacant lots, and a distinct lack of healthy food choices.
When communities have access to healthy food options, the overall well-being and health of the residents improves. With economic resources and physical health, neighbors are more able to participate in the rejuvenation of their community.
To help people find meaningful, sustaining careers, we train them in job skills, give them real work experience, and support them while they begin their careers by helping with job placement and life-planning. We not only provide the support people need to succeed, but also the space to define what success means to them. To transform our community, we offer our produce to our neighbors at significantly reduced prices, advocate for the issues impacting Englewood, and open up our space for trainings, workshops, and more.
Les Brown, founder of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, has a vision to help homeless Chicagoans gain job skills and rebuild their confidence through farming.
Nine people enroll as participants in Growing Home’s first year of training.
Development begins on the Wood Street Urban Farm and the job training program finds a permanent home in Englewood. The first 100 Production Assistants complete the training program.
In part due to Growing Home’s precedent-setting Wood Street Farm, the City of Chicago passes a new ordinance making the establishment of an urban farm less daunting and more efficient for others. Growing Home’s Honore Street Farm is the first farm to open under the new ordinance.
Growing Home is chosen as the winner of the Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award, and, at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards, is named as the Chicago Community Trust Outstanding Community Strategy of the Year.
Growing Home solidifies a partnership with Cabrini Green Legal Aid to help Production Assistants seal or expunge their criminal records, a primary employment barrier, and to offer legal assistance with housing, child custody, and other civil pursuits affecting their ability to succeed.
People without jobs are often without roots. They’re not tied down, not connected, not part of their family anymore. Our organic farming program is a way for them to connect with nature—to plant and nurture roots over a period of time. When you get involved in taking responsibility for caring for something, creating an environment that produces growth, then it helps you build self-esteem and feel more connected.Les Brown, Founder of Growing Home
Assistant Site Manager
Farm Enterprise Director
Case Management Coordinator
Farm Sales Coordinator
Director of Employment Training
Senior Crew Leader
Chief Operating Officer
Employment Training Manager
Employment Training Assistant
Board of Directors
Board President, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, PC, Attorney
Board Co-Vice President, The Boeing Company, Global Corporate Citizenship, Manager
Board Co-Vice President, Pastor and Community Organizer
Board Secretary, Finicity, Vice President
Board Treasurer, US Bank, Business Banking Officer
Open Door Advisors, Principal
Judith Aronson PhD
Bartko Design Inc., Principal & Creative Director
National Main Street Center, Director of Urban Programs
Polk Bros. Foundation, Senior Program Officer
Foster Dale Architects, Principal
Vice President of Development, USO of Illinois
American Library Association, Marketing Manager
All Star Trading, President & Owner
Instructor, French Department, DePaul University
Educator & Chef
Chicagoland Gardening Magazine, Editor
Cook County State Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutor, Crimes Strategy Task Force