Teachers, volunteers and agency staff engaged in daily work together with garden interns to develop the soft skills and resumes which will lead to future success in the workplace. All the while, we presented instructions to support individual gardeners using meaningful modifications with visual, printed and video models. We offered paid employment for up to 20 gardeners to include stations within the farm as well as sales and farm stand operations. Farm interns currently include residents of Project 1212, CPS students from Al Raby High School, Easter Seals Therapeutic School for Autism Research and private applicants.
While a majority of harvested produce is donated to area food pantries, we used some for instruction in our teaching kitchen at Project 1212, as well as offering some for sale at our farm-stand as the summer progressed.
In 2013, our 900-square-feet pilot garden taught us that we could increase independence and productivity among young adults with ASD while teaching vocational horticulture skills. The 2014 expansion allowed us to provide paid employment and more consistent, intensive vocational training opportunities to twice as many young adults, while harnessing the collective strength of our partners. We gratefully acknowledge the Illinois Medical District Commission, University of Illinois Extension Horticulture program, the Illinois Medical District, the Rush AARTS program, the Chicago Botanic Garden, the HEAR Foundation, Catlin Insurance, Inc.,and welcome participants from the Chicago Public Schools and Easter Seals. We are also grateful to the Coleman Foundation, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the Maximus Corporation, The National Garden Bureau and Comedy Central’s Night of Too Many Stars for their support.
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” We know a good opportunity when we see it! Come visit Growing Solutions Farm on the corner of Campbell Parkway and Leavitt Street in the Illinois Medical District! We’ll be out working daily Monday through Friday from May 19 – October 31. Tours are available daily. when the farm is open.