Chicagoland Prison Outreach reaches beyond the prison cell. Our holistic nature means that the ministry is concerned with all aspects of a person’s life: family, employment, housing, hunger, education, and salvation.
Sacred [sey-krid] adjective - devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.
Greens [greenz] noun - the leaves and stems of plants, as spinach, lettuce, or cabbage, used for food.
Sacred Greens is a joint venture between Chicagoland Prison Outreach, Green Lots, and Growasis, the land is a dedicated plot of CPO land in the Roseland neighborhood that is used to better the lives of of its neighbors and those who visit. It provides food, opportunity, health, hope, and builds community. It is a place where the Holy Spirit resides. Large areas of Chicago are considered “Food Deserts,” a term Chicago State University professor Pancho MacFarland doesn’t like. Moving to Chicago from the desert (New Mexico) he knows and understands that “life and vibrancy” can come from unexpected places. Professor MacFarland grew up planting, cultivating, and harvesting traditional Mexican food staples like corn, beans, squash, and chilies.
MacFarland views areas like Chicago’s South Side, as “a place of food inequality.” The option of purchasing and eating quality, fresh vegetables is extremely hard to come by. There are a lack of markets, grocery stores, and other places that you would typically expect to find fresh greens and produce. Because of this lack these types of areas have a higher percentage of health problems: diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc.
Sacred Greens is a neighborhood garden that is used to train and educate the neighborhood. It combats these health issues and provides nutrition. The fruits and vegetables that come from this garden are much needed by local neighbors, but there is a very powerful side effect happening. Jackie from the community organization Green Lots says that what they have come to discover is that young people are coming out and learning. As they learn and plant, they become invested, they have ownership in the project. When people are invested and feel like they are part of the solution they become positive stories of success in their neighborhoods. Someone is doing something good and providing for their family in a productive way.
Jackie Smith is an urban farmer/gardener on south side. Her degrees in agricultural economics and public service along with her University of Illinois certification as a Master Gardener make her the perfect advocate and teacher at Sacred Greens. Jackie has expertise in environmental, sustainable garden practices and specializes in creating youth focused garden activities. Farming is her ministry. She works with children and youth and nurtures both the kids and the land.
“Food is medicine! The earth is a great pharmacy. People are putting junk in their bodies because it is easy to get. It’s quick to go” says Jackie, “to the mom and pop store on 103rd and Wentworth and get a bag of chips. But with that comes preservatives, additives that aren’t good for our body.” Places like Sacred Greens help locals see healthy options. They learn that they are in control of this area of their lives, an empowering feeling!
For more information on how you can be involved please contact the CPO office!