was just past 9 am and the sun was already beating down on the dozen or so teens assembled in a small corner of Chicago's Grant Park. Wisely, Jessica Ellis assumed a spot in the shade. The 18-year-old had picked up a few tricks since she started working at the well-manicured farm just west of Columbus Drive two years prior. As she sat and washed freshly-harvested collard greens and cabbage, her peers bee-lined to the farm beds that formed the perimeter of the park, beginning the more arduous work of trimming and bundling a variety of lettuces. None seemed to notice the heat; the volunteers dug away, sharing a laugh in between snips. Ellis noted that the work made the trek down from her Cabrini Green home worthwhile. "I like planting and getting my hands dirty," she said.
This uncommon but picturesque urban scene took place on a piece of property operated by Growing Power, a national nonprofit organization and land trust dedicated to developing sustainable community food systems.