Young Men’s Educational Network (YMEN) in Chicago
An effective and dynamic organization on Chicago’s West Side
The partnership with Small Axe Peppers will give people in North Lawndale another entry point into urban agriculture that can show them the value of growing food, while also building up entrepreneurship skills.

Established in 1996 to address academic and social needs that cripple the futures of many young people, YMEN serves about 150 families weekly by providing academic support and skill enhancement, entrepreneurial training, arts education, value-based enhancement classes as well as mentoring, tutoring, sports/recreation and a wide variety of field trip experiences. Small Axe Peppers sent YMEN the seeds, which they began cultivating indoors months ago. Teacher Carey Trout worked the peppers into her earth science curriculum as a hands-on lesson about the biosphere. Classes learned how to nurture the seedlings indoors and eventually plant in the ground outside.

“Part of it is really trying to help us find ways to grow work ethic in these young men, give them some meaningful employment and also give them an opportunity to see the fruits of their labors,”
Marcus Thorne, executive director of operations at YMEN
Support Your Local Community Gardens

“We figured out the garden is definitely an economic engine, and it’s a communal space… Our plan is to really keep figuring out how it can be a vehicle for greater social change.”

Each bottle of hot sauce purchased directly supports Detroit Food Zoo and many other gardens with vibrant social missions to strengthen the fabric of urban neighborhoods.

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Other stories from our partners..

New Roots Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City
Small Axe Peppers partners with the International Rescue Committee to help newly settled refugees earn income through farming as they transition to their new life in America.
Brook Park Youth Farm
Mott Haven
At Brook Park Youth Farm, the garden's primary caretakers are teenagers with criminal records who were sent to work in the garden through a court order as an alternative to incarceration.
La Finca Del Sur
Mott Haven
La Finca del Sur is an urban farm in Mott Haven led by women of color, highlighting the agricultural heritage of its farmers who have roots in the American and global south.
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