#212 Youth growing hope in Chicago

Pumpkins

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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Be like the bee. They pick up bits of pollen and spread them around, all the while creating honey, pollinating flowers and ensuring the future of life on the planet. When you share these stories, you pollinate hope.

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