Flower Power Chicago

In the Windy City, one man is fighting crime and poverty with flowers.

Quilen Blackwell founded the “Chicago Eco House”, dedicated to using sustainability to alleviate poverty.

The organization hosts after-school programs that teach at-risk youth about urban agriculture and business.

Beginning in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood, “Southside Blooms”, is their farm-to-vase floral program that’s turning vacant lots across Chicago into job opportunities, all while beautifying some of the city’s toughest neighborhoods.

Through their apprenticeship program, young adults ages 16-25 learn how to plant bulbs, cultivate the flower farms, then harvest and package bouquets for direct and on-line delivery to customers throughout the Chicago area.

The flowers are grown with zero pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers — and without greenhouses. The focus is kept on growing in-season flowers suited for the Windy City’s climate.

As of 2020, their four lots operate 100% off the grid through solar power – and these gardens are alive with beehives, chickens and flowing irrigation systems.

The real success of this urban farming revolution, is that Chicago Eco House is growing far more than flowers — they’re growing jobs, nurturing confident kids and healing communities as well.