The simple truth is that it all starts with the soil.  Without good soil, 

crops don’t get enough of the nutrients they need to survive and 

when plants are stressed, they are more prone to disease and pest 

problems.  That’s why we grow our own compost and vermicompost –

10 million tons of it a year.  That compost goes onto every growing bed 

we raise crops on.  Because we know what goes in to the compost, 

we aren’t worried that the soil is contaminated with lead or other 

chemicals that humans just shouldn’t eat. 


At Growing Power, we raise all of our crops sustainably, which is a term that means we grow produce

at or above current organic standards but we have not been certified organic by the U.S. 

government.  Currently, it just is not a priority of ours.  We would all much rather be in the fields than 

filling out lots of paper work for the government. 


To grow sustainably means that we do not use any synthetic chemicals – 

fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides – on any of our crops.  We prefer to do 

things the old fashioned way; we hand pick weeds, we control pests with 

beneficial insects such as ladybugs, and we use foliar compost tea to help 

control pest and bacteria problems.  As a very last resort, we use only 

certified organic pesticides like Neem oil and Pyrethrum, a pesticide made 

from Chrysanthemum leaves.


In addition, we buy all of our seed from reputable seed companies who do not treat their seeds with pesticides or other chemicals.  Seed companies that we often use are Johnny’s Seed and Seed Savers.  These are seed companies that we trust and who are committed to helping their communities.


Ready, set, seed!

This is how we seed our pots of greens and herbs – all 20,000 of them.


First, we fill the pot with compost.  Next, we add worms that will continue to break down the compost in the pot and supply the crop with nutrients over the growing period.  Then, we sprinkle seeds across the soil.  Finally, we cover the seed with coir, a sustainable peat moss substitute made from coconut fibers which helps with water retention.



Unconventional Hoop Dreams

Will Allen is an excellent basketball player.  In fact he played professionally for six years. Fortunately for Growing Power, Will likes to farm too.  The Chicago Lights Urban Farm at Cabrini-Green is the perfect combination of both of his passions.  The entire garden is built on an old basketball court – literally, on top of concrete.   


Milwaukee Headquarters:  5500 W. Silver Spring Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53218

Tel. 414.527.1546 / Fax 414.527.1908

Chicago Projects Office:  3333 S. Iron Street, Chicago, IL 60608

Tel. 773.376.8882