#212 Youth growing hope in Chicago


Pumpkins, photo by Rich Bowen, via Flickr Creative Commons

Although I feel very upbeat about the current generation of teens and young adults, I know a lot of them are facing challenges the size of the grand canyon. If they’re to make the leap across it, they need a bit of a nudge and a safety net. That’s what GoSO is holding out to them.

Gardens are a terrific way of providing strength and safety for youth at risk. Something about nurturing something as small as a seed and seeing it blossom into life-nurturing glory gives young gardeners a sense of personal power.

GoSO is an urban agriculture program that has connected the Illinois Youth Correction Center, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Horticultural Department, and the Geneva, West Englewood and North Lawndale communities. They’ve looked around Chicago and tallied 70,000 vacant lots. With intensive farming of fresh produce, a half-acre plot can generate as much as $30,000 to $50,000 per year in gross sales.

So GoSO is teaching business development and entrepreneurship while bringing fresh produce into the city’s “food desert” districts. Check out GoSO’s video. Here’s a way young people can transform urban wastelands into thriving farms.

GoSO builds employment, entrepreneurship, skills, and self-confidence, while providing fresh, healthy produce in city centers. That’s a lot of hope to grow.


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