Growing Solutions Farm

In May, 2014, we launched our expanded 1.2 acre  vocational garden in the Illinois Medical District. The plans include 28 16-foot raised cedar beds, 50 smart pots, 48 earth boxes and a full time Grower and Farm Operations Manager. Additional spaces include educational sheds and a shipping pod for storage, a wash-pack processing center and a shaded outdoor classroom area.

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Teachers, volunteers and agency staff engage 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 are presenting instructions to support individual gardeners using meaningful modifications with visual, printed and video models. We are able to offer paid employment for up to 20 gardeners to include stations within the farm as well as sales and eventual 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.

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While a majority of harvested produce is donated to area food pantries, we are using some for instruction in our teaching kitchen at Project 1212, as well as offering some for sale at our farm-stand as the summer progresses.

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 allows 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 University of Illinois Extension Horticulture program, the Illinois Medical District, the Rush AARTS program, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and welcome participants from the Chicago Public Schools and Easter Seals. We are also grateful to the Coleman Foundation and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for their support.

mapThomas 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.