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    Posted February 13, 2014 by
    Chicago, Illinois

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    Locally Sourced Jobs

    Over the last several years, the national discussion has centered on job creation and retention. Millions are out of work, and countless more are working poor. Though we look to the national unemployment rate to determine how well our economy is doing at providing job opportunities for those who are able to work but have yet to find employment, most of us have felt first-hand the tremendous impact that unemployment causes. Either ourselves, our loved ones, or someone we know has lost their job due to downsizing or budget cuts. We see the demand for public funding for food, shelter, and medical services. Our tax dollars can’t cover the overwhelming need to provide the most basic goods and services for those out of work. This has been going on for years, and unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there is any lasting solution in sight.
    Fortunately, some organizations have realized that the problem is also the solution. Not only do these organizations provide jobs and job training, they provide goods and services for the community that otherwise would be sought from public funding.
    Growing Power, Inc., for example, operates urban farms in Milwaukee and Merton, Wisconsin, and in Chicago, Illinois. Through on-site workshops and hands-on demonstration, Growing Power not only grows and distributes food, they also educate and train local youth on farming and food production. They advocate locally sourced, healthy food, and promote food security and environmentally sound food production systems.
    Their success has led to satellite training sites in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Mississippi. Partnering with family-owned farms, Growing Power has pioneered the farm-to-city approach to providing affordable, healthy produce from small, family owned farms. In this program, fresh produce is delivered right to the customer’s doorstep, usually weekly, for a few that is often less than what would be paid for at the grocery store. Not only do these programs benefit local food producers, it benefits the health of the community. Most doctors agree that a healthy diet free of preservatives and chemicals is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
    Growing Power has created jobs, as well training for many youths who may be interested in sustainable farming. It may sound like a surprise, but those who grew up in a community that lacks access to healthy food are proving to be the most prosperous urban farmers. With the right training, what was once urban blight can quickly transform into a sustainable food production system. By promoting locally sourced food production systems, Growing Power leads the community in healthier eating and civic engagement.
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