Inspiring healthy living, economic opportunity, and community empowerment in Englewood
We believe 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.
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
Janelle St. John
Marketing & Events Coordinator
Workforce Development Specialist
Community Engagement Coordinator
Farm Sales Associate
Farm & Program Manager
Workforce Development Manager
Communications and Development Manager
Farm and Program Educator
Employment Training and Community Engagement Associate
Executive Support Administrative Assistant
Training and Development Specialist
Farm and Program Educator
Farm and Program Educator
Director of Employment Training
Individual Giving Coordinator
Elrod Friedman LLP, Founding Partner
Board Vice President
PNC Bank, AVP Branch Manager
American Library Association, Marketing Manager
Accenture, Senior Manager, Midwest SAP Program Delivery
Salvatore Prescott Porter & Porter, Partner
DePaul University, Lecturer, French Department
Senior Managing Director at Guggenheim Securities
Director, Reclamation Project
5/3rd Bank, VP, Small Business Community Lender
Past Board President
Finicity, Senior Vice President
Pastor & Community Organizer
United Senior Services, General Manager
Physician, Senior Partner & Vice President, Associated Allergists & Asthma Specialists
U.S. Bank, Vice President
Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Special Prosecutor, Crimes Strategy Task Force
Journalist & Multimedia Consultant. Baldwin Media Group.
Accenture, Consulting Senior Analyst
DigitasLBi, Project Manager
The Field Museum, Social Media Manager
Director of Partnerships & Marketing, Leafwell
Vital Proteins, Retail Marketing Manager
Argonne National Laboratory, Coordinating Writer/Editor
Executive Legal Assistant
Anton Seals Jr.
Judith Aronson, PhD