Inspiring healthy living, economic opportunity, and community empowerment in Englewood

Mission and Vision

We have a vision of a world of healthy people and communities. Everyone deserves to have a good job, and everyone deserves to eat well.

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.

Learn more about our impact.

Milestones

1992

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.

2002

Nine people enroll as participants in Growing Home’s first year of training.

2006

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.

2011

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.

2013

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.

2014

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

Our Team

Staff

John Briel
Individual Giving Coordinator

DeAndre Brooks
Farm Manager

Fred Daniels
Director of Urban Farms

Willie Danner
Farm Crew Leader

LaQuandra Fair
Community Engagement Associate

Alicia Feistamel
Employment Training Operations Coordinator

Chrissy Gargano
Grants and Communications Associate

Sonia Garcia
Market Sales Associate

April Harrington
Director of Operations

Marcia Hill
Farm Crew Leader

Renee Howarth
Food Access and Distribution Manager

Camesha Jones
Case Management Coordinator

Courtney Kelledes
Director of Employment Training

Vicky Nurre
Director of Development

Kristin Miodonski
Director of Community Engagement

China Mitchell
Farm Crew Leader

Harry Rhodes
Executive Director

Shelley Williams
Job Placement Associate

Jamie Winger
Employment Training Manager

Board of Directors

Laura Tilly
Board President
Miner, Barnhill & Galland, PC, Attorney

Lynn Sheck
Board Vice President
Finicity, Vice President

Steve Stanley
Board Secretary
Pastor and Community Organizer

Karl Riley
Board Treasurer
Fifth Third Bank, Business Banking Officer

Judith Aronson, PhD
Psychotherapist

Jennifer Ballard Croft
Chief of Staff to Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx & Chief Diversity Officer

Foster Dale
Foster Dale Architects, Principal

Martin R. Eckstein
Social Justice Advocate

Dan Kaplan
American Library Association, Marketing Manager

Ted Kennedy
All Star Trading, President & Owner

Pascale Kichler
Instructor, French Department, DePaul University

Diana Leifer
Educator & Chef

Micheal Newman-Brooks
City of Chicago, Department of Planning & Development, Project Manager of Urban Agriculture

Joseph Niemiec
William Blair & Company, Managing Director

Carolyn Ulrich
Chicagoland Gardening Magazine, Editor

Barbara Wallace
Writer

Stewart J. Weiss
Holland & Knight LLP, Attorney

Marny Zimmer
Cook County State Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutor, Crimes Strategy Task Force

Associate Board

Kevin Swan
Board Co-Chair
United Senior Services, General Manager

Larissa Mariano
Board Co-Chair
The Family Institute at Northwestern University, Executive Assistant

Tabitha Humphries
Board Secretary
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Attorney

Paul Anthony
Adams Street Partners, Associate

Rashanah Baldwin
Chicago Public Media, Metro Desk Producer & Writer

Hayley Barron
Writers Theatre, Communications & Social Media Assistant

Mark Bourdenko
The Chartis Group, Consultant

Mackenzie Canfield
Inspiration Corporation, Employment Preparation & Placement Specialist

Bert Connelly
University of Chicago, Graduate Student

Charlotte Cottier
Campbell & Company, Nonprofit Communications Consultant

Charles Dabah
The Levantine Kitchen, Chef and Owner

Charles Kyle
Youth Guidance, Counselor

Alexis Macias
Loyola University School of Social Work, Graduate Student

Ted Miller
Synchrony Financial, VP of Loyalty Analytics

Liz Rosenthal
DigitasLBi, Project Manager

Gina Schammel
Chicago Food Planet & Food Tours, Sales & Private Events Director

Jason Sloat

Kim Smith
University of Chicago Urban Labs, Sr. Research Manager

Marie Stringer
Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Development & Communications Manager

Garrett Thomas
Attorney

Katharine Uhrich
The Field Museum, Social Media Manager

Leadership Council

Dionne Baux

Deborah Bennett

JoAnn Blackman

Helen Cameron

Valerie Denney

David Doig

Lisa Gershenson

Perry Gunn

Ivan Handler

Ben Helphand

Karen Lehman

Amy Rynell

Colleen Sheehan

Tom Spaulding

Paul Virant

Paul Youngstrum