Growing Home

Growing Home
Harry Rhodes
Chicago, IL

Growing Home believes that organic agriculture is the perfect vehicle for changing lives and communities - through job training, social enterprise, and community development.

It was founded in 1996 by Les Brown, then the Policy Director at the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, in order to provide job training for needy Chicagoans. Les recognized that not only was the critical lack of living-wage jobs one of the major factors that leads to homelessness, but that a sense of purpose was also a necessary component of breaking out of the cycle of homelessness.

Les wrote before he passed away in 2005 that “homeless people 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.”

Growing Home currently operates the Marseilles area farm, the Les Brown Memorial Farm, plus three other farms on Chicago’s South Side: the Wood Street Urban Farm, the Honore Street Farm, and the Su Casa Market Garden.