Chicago urban farm sows a new legacy for Englewood residents

Chicago’s West Englewood residents face quite a few challenges. According to the Chicago Data Portal, 34.4% live below poverty, 35.9% over 16 are unemployed, 26% of adults over 25 have no diploma, and the per-capita income is as low as $11,317 a year. Those numbers are striking compared to the city of Chicago in general, which has only 12.9% unemployment, 19.7% below poverty and a $28,202 per-capita annual income.

Growing Home aims to tackle those stark numbers, starting with a comprehensive farm and job training program for those facing employment barriers.

Janelle St. John, the executive director of Growing Home, says it is the only USDA-certified organic farm in Chicago. The Southside Englewood farm is not a block-sized community garden, but rather a high-volume production farm on 1.5 acres producing over 40,000 pounds of food a year. The farm provides more than food, however.

“We use the farm for two main purposes,” St. John says. “We use it as a job training program where we have four cohorts of 20 people a year with a total of 80 participants who are paid and receive a classroom curriculum and placement help.”

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