In the early ‘90’s, Les Brown, founder of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, had the crazy idea to take vacant lots in Chicago and turn them into urban farms. He knew the power of farming. He knew how farming could really help transform peoples lives and be a spiritual experience.
Harry Rhodes, Executive Director Growing Home
For years, regardless of the weather, the opening of the farmers markets heralded the arrival of spring. Working as a chef for 35 years in Chicago, it was my opportunity to get out of the kitchen, invigorate my style and refresh the menus I offered to my customers. The new ingredients that became available excited me and I had a laser focus on the quality of crops various vendors offered. This was the beginning of my relationship with Growing Home. I bought their spring lettuce mixes, new crop spinach, the first asparagus, tender thyme, mint and spring onions.
Growing Home, Chicago’s first organic urban farm, sells a high quality crop at the Green City Market. But it is so much more than that. Growing Home is an opportunity, a mission, a metaphor for what spring may offer. This year I’ve had the chance to spend more time at the farm. I learned about their program dedicated to inspiring healthy living, community empowerment and economic development in Englewood. Best of all, I got to know some of the graduates. Together with Steve LeBeau, from StarBar Media, we produced a video about the impact of the program and the transformative power of farming. It’s my pleasure and great honor to share what I’ve learned. I will never think about spring in the same way since I got to spend a small piece of it at Growing Home.
Wherever I go in the next five, ten, twenty years, it’s always going to come back to this. To Growing Home. Because there’s something you all saw in me, and your hearts went out to me. People like me deserve a second chance and Growing Home gave me that chance.