Darius Jones works at least 20 hours a week on his urban garden while also working full-time promoting Windy City Harvest farmers markets in Chicago, Illinois. Not long ago, Jones was serving time in Cook County jail for aggravated carjacking. For his first 15 months incarcerated, he went outside a total of four times. Then he was offered a chance to work in the garden on jail property. Since then, he trained at Daley City College in the Windy City Harvest program for nine months, and turned his life around.
"He understands the market side of farming," Angela Mason, Director of Windy City Harvest, said. "He has a real desire to work with [the] underserved community and get food to community members that don't have access."
Jones' connection with Windy City Harvest earns him income and offers him a support system. He dreams of someday owning his own farm and a small grocery store. "His energy and passion for what he does is infectious," Heidi Joynt, owner of Field and Florist, said. Joynt paved the way for Jones. She was the first incubator farmer last summer after years of working at Chicago Botanic Garden teaching teenagers how to grow vegetables.
Today, Jones is seeing bumper crops. He is selling product to a nearby restaurant called Inspiration Cafe. "I had a couple old friends and acquaintances come by and help me do some work," Jones said. "I was really bad, so [when they watch] me being really good, they see the change. They are very supportive of it."