People You Should Know in Chicago

Harry Rhodes

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Harry Rhodes: Growing Home operates the city’s only high production certified organic farm. We last year produced 35,000 pounds of terrific produce in less than an acre of land. Growing Home has been based in Englewood for over ten years now and we are committed to working in that community. When we started in 2006, we were the first urban farm in Englewood. Since that time, this idea of an urban agriculture district has really taken off. We were the catalyst that got started. We now have two farms and an acre and a half there. There’s two other farms around the community. There’s community gardens; people are growing food and people are coming to our farm stand weekly because they want the food that Growing Home is growing. Growing Homes operates a transitional jobs program for people of various employments. We work with anyone who has the motivation to work and transform their lives. Many of the people we work with have criminal backgrounds, many have been homeless, many have struggled with substance abuse. So they come to Growing Home and we say “yeah, we’ll work with you, we’ll support you. You have to work hard but if we work together, we can help you start a journey of transforming your lives.”

One of our Growing Home goals, in addition to the job training, is to hire the people that we’ve trained. So we now are the staff of 17 people, five of them are program graduates, and one of our graduates has been with us since 2010, that’s Fred Daniels. Fred recently became the director of our urban farms. He’s one of our leaders in the organization. He learned on the farm itself and now he’s an expert. He’s one of the best urban farmers in the city. I would say one of the best urban farmers in the country. And the great things about Fred is that not only is he a good farmer, he’s a mentor for the people that he trains.

Growing Home operates a weekly market stand right on our farm. We’ve done it since we got started back, 2007 was the first year we did that. Fast forward to today, if you show up at 11 AM when we get started any Thursday, you’ll see a line of people waiting to get into our farm stand and purchase our produce. I’m most proud of all the lives we’ve changed over the past 15 years and over the impact we’ve had in Englewood and that we have been the catalyst for change and revitalization in this community.

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