Growing HomeSocial Enterprise and Transitional Jobs
Growing Home’s mission is to operate, promote, anddemonstrate the use of organic agriculture as a vehicle forjob training, employment, and community development.
Growing Home was founded in 1992 by Les Brown, Director of Policy for theChicago Coalition for the Homeless.He wrote that “Homeless people are often without roots. They’re not tied down, notconnected, not part of their family anymore. Our organic farming program is a wayfor 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 anenvironment that produces growth, then it helps you build self-esteem.”
Growing Home operates an employment training program through three USDA Certified Organic farm sites.
Growing Home’sLes Brown Memorial Farm – Marseilles, IL
Su Casa Market Garden – Back of the Yards, Chicago
Growing Home’s Wood Street Urban Farm - Englewood, Chicago
Growing Home’s Newest Farm:Wood Street Urban FarmExtension Site
Job Training: Growing Home’s program targets individualswho have major barriers to employment, including havingbeen previously incarcerated, homeless, and/or having ahistory of substance abuse.
Job skills: Program participants gainspecific skill sets in farming,customer service, and horticulture,as well as, job readiness skills likeresume writing, interview etiquette,and other employment skills.
Opening of the Farm and Training Center, August 2009
"Plants are like people. Or people are like plants. They neednurturing, and help... to become stronger and to stand ontheir own.” – 2011 Program Participant, Lisa R.
Participants are paid for their time inclass and working. Their hours aresplit evenly between time inclasses—including courses in soils,plant identification, pruning, math atthe market—and time working onthe farms and at the farmer’smarket.
"Since Ive been [at Growing Home] ...Im more peaceful. Its like Im in atotally different world, Im still inChicago and Illinois, but my mind goeselsewhere because there is somethingabout the soil thats just calming.” - 2010 program graduate, Latoya W.
Mayor Daley with our community outreach coordinator, Seneca Kern, and program interns
Community Open House at the Wood Street Urban Farm, May 2011
"I was so ready to be done with the bad parts ofmy life. I wanted it behind me, and I wanted to beclean. Growing Home has helped. Its peacefulhere. And its an indescribable feeling: to get upevery day and make a conscious decision tofocus on the positive.”- 2009 program participant, Jasmine E.