Southside Blooms turns vacant lot into urban farm in Washington Park

CHICAGO (WLS) -- What were vacant lots in Washington Park is now the newest flower farm for Southside Blooms.

It's the official opening of the non-profits' fifth local urban farm.

"We believe flowers can be the cash crop that can spur and unlock other economic prosperity," said Southside Blooms President and Co-Founder Quilen Blackwell.

Among the sunflowers, Blackwell explains it's not about the flowers, but it's about the people in the community, most importantly, giving young people an opportunity to work.

"That positive activity will discourage a lot of the negative loitering that takes place," Blackwell said. "This represents an alternative to having to be in the streets -- an alternative to gang life."

At Southside Blooms florals studio in Englewood, you can find some of the young employees arranging the sunflowers in bouquets.

Ta'shawn Hunt said this was all new to him when the 17-year-old began working for the non-profit two years ago.

"I didn't think I would be doing this," Hunt said. "I just like doing it because it looks pretty."

"Putting money in people's pocket, that's what I care about. I think a lot of people want to decide what other people need and want, and I think most people want to decide that for themselves," said Hannah Blackwell, fellow co-founder of Southside Blooms.

They are just getting started at the new Washington Park location. By this time next year, there will be four acres of sunflowers and at least three people from the community with new jobs.

The company delivers all over the Chicago area.

For more information, visit the Southside Blooms website.
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