In July 2014, National Garden Bureau, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the horticulture industry, announced the launch of Growing for Futures #growingforfutures, an annual philanthropic effort to benefit therapeutic gardens across the country. In the months since the launch, publicity surrounding the farm has reached millions resulting in donations of cash, seeds, trees, a greenhouse, compost and more, totaling over $40,000. Donations of cash, services and products from individuals and major corporations have resulted in gifts totaling $43,398 for the Growing Solutions Farm located in Chicago, IL.

Claire Watson, NGB President, and Diane Blazek, NGB Executive Director, present the donation check to Julie Tracy, President and Founder of the Julie+Michael Tracy Family Foundation/Growing Solutions Farm in front of their Wall of Donors

Claire Watson, NGB President, and Diane Blazek, NGB Executive Director, present the donation check to Julie Tracy, President and Founder of the Julie+Michael Tracy Family Foundation/Growing Solutions Farm in front of their Wall of Donors

Growing Solutions Farm is a vocational therapeutic garden, a program of the Julie + Michael Tracy Family Foundation/Urban Autism Solutions (JMTF) that serves, educates and trains young adults with autism for professional and personal growth. More than twenty young adults are employed at the farm, located in Chicago’s Illinois Medical District, each season. Additional workers are involved at the farm as part of Chicago Public Schools’ program for young adults with special needs.

NGB’s goal was to raise funds to support the farm’s expansion, both in physical space and jobs programming.

Following their employment at Growing Solutions Farm, all the students who were eligible for a full-time job have secured positions with various companies in the city of Chicago. After learning how to grow and care for plants and related skills in work ethics, processes and the necessary mechanics for independent living, these young adults are now living more independently and earning an income that might not have been possible before becoming involved with Growing Solutions Farm.