People + Communities Over one-third of our Production Assistants each year are our neighbors in Englewood. After their training at Growing Home, some go on to organize community gardens, engage in advocacy, or start enterprises of their own, paying forward the benefits they received from us.

 

Community + Farming Our farms in Englewood connect people with their food in a way that many have never experienced before. In touring our farm, buying vegetables from our farm stand, and learning about nutrition, community members see where food comes from for the first time.

 

People + Farming Working as Production Assistants in our urban farming social enterprise teaches skills such as project management, effective communication skills, personal responsibility, leadership, and teamwork to individuals with employment barriers like previous incarceration, homelessness, and substance abuse.

 

People + Community + Farming Growing food stimulates individual and community transformation. Growing Home builds opportunities for meaningful and sustaining employment through job training, and builds community by championing local, healthy food options for all.

1
1

2015 at a Glance

39

People were trained in our job training program.

30

Pounds of organic produce were harvested from our urban farms.

618

Neighbors attended our healthy eating workshops, cooking and gardening demonstrations, and other community events.

25

Farm stands provided produce at a reduced price to Englewood residents, including customers using LINK and WIC government food assistance vouchers.

53

Tours of our farms were given to local schools, local organizations, and visitors from around the country and the world.

31

Organizations and businesses partnered with us to offer wrap-around services to our participants, collaborate on community projects, and advocate for our causes.

When I touch the soil I’m more peaceful. It’s like I’m in a totally different world. I’m still in Chicago, but my mind goes elsewhere because there is something about the soil that’s just calming.

Latoya, Program Graduate

Our Job Training Model

Growing Home operates high-production farms to train individuals who are eager to work but need a supportive environment to develop their strengths as employees. Our Production Assistants, who are admitted after a vigorous recruitment process to assess their suitability and motivation, are involved in every aspect of farm production, including planting, harvesting, washing, weighing, packaging and selling our produce to customers across Chicago. Production Assistants work in teams alongside staff, graduates, and volunteers to reach social enterprise sales goals as well as our mission to improve access to healthy food to underserved neighborhoods. Our job training model, which combines real-world, goal-driven work with a constructive environment, develops individuals into valuable employees.

Week 1

Positive Attitude
Our employer partners tell us that a positive attitude is one of the most important attributes an employee can have. Throughout the 14-week job training period at Growing Home, we help Production Assistants identify, practice, and measure specifics skills, such as taking initiative, volunteering for tough assignments, and cultivating a supportive and respectful work environment.

Week 2

Reliability and Commitment
From following safety protocols to being present and ready to work at their scheduled start time, being a reliable and committed employee means not only knowing the rules, but also how and why to follow them. In our supportive environment, Production Assistants learn the best ways to balance work with life so that their employers can trust that they will be on time and ready to work every day.

Week 3

Quality and Competence
Growing Home believes that the best employees at any business are those who get the job done right – and done well. At Growing Home, completing highly-skilled tasks like seeding, transplanting, and harvesting allows Production Assistants the opportunity to practice for the workplace. They learn to pay attention to detail, adhere to quality standards, and – perhaps most importantly – strive to maintain quality in every job they complete.

Week 4

Speed and Efficiency
Meeting production deadlines and keeping up with big projects like preparing fields for seeding requires Production Assistants to maintain a fast work pace throughout a long day. We teach them to find efficiencies in repetitive tasks and work quickly without sacrificing quality.

Week 5

Working with a Sense of Urgency
We understand that employers want team members, not just employees, so our Production Assistants work to encourage each other to maintain pace, stay engaged and alert, and understand and work towards a common, achievable goal.

Week 6

Independence on the Job Site
We don’t want to help our Production Assistants just find jobs. We want to help them find careers. Our job training themes help our Production Assistants become independent problem-solvers, the kind of employees that receive promotions and raises due to their skills and attitude. The transferable skills our Production Assistants gain while working towards the success of our farms makes them valuable employees in any field.

Community Partnership

Since 2005, we have been working in Englewood, a community on Chicago’s South side. Once a bustling commercial hub, the area has suffered from decades of disinvestment and de-population. According to the Chicago Tribune, 42.2 percent of households in Englewood fall below the poverty level, and 21.3 percent are unemployed (as compared with a Chicago unemployment rate of 11.1 percent). Considered a food desert due to the lack of healthy foods available, Englewood’s ratio of fast food sources to produce is greater than four to one. As a result, residents suffer from high rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma, and other serious health problems.

Growing Home brings jobs, job skills, and fresh produce to Englewood. We not only enroll Englewood residents into our training program and help them find jobs to support their families, we also encourage new food-based businesses by partnering with like-minded community organizations through coalition-building. We seek to make our vision of healthy people and communities a reality for our neighbors.