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HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee is an initiative of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, led by the City's Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO).

  • Transform targeted neighborhoods by concentrating City and partner resources, catalyzing new, healthy food access and greenspace developments to promote economic development.
  • Make it easier to access local food and re-purpose city-owned vacant lots. We work within City government to streamline processes, permitting, and ordinances, making it easier to grow and distribute healthy food, start new food-based businesses, and improve vacant lots.
  • Work within Milwaukee's community food system to link local growers to local markets, increase urban food infrastructure (water, access, compost), and support new urban farms and healthy food retailers and wholesalers.




Latest News

August 2017: Major vacant lot greenscaping project completed at 7th & Garfield in Bronzeville. More information and photos here.

July 2017: New City Healthy Food Access Maps added to website (scroll down on this page)

May - July 2017: North Avenue hanging baskets rehung, vacant lots improved on North Avenue at 22nd and 11th, North Avenue Greenscaping Facade Grant program is kicked off with City DCD, LISC and B.I.D. #32, North Avenue work extended down to 5th Street with 2 greenscaping projects east of the freeway. Major stormwater management features built at Fondy Park - Park Grand Opening set for September 16, 2017. Nonprofit Operation Dream hired to employ North Side teen men to maintain HOME GR/OWN's parks and orchards.

April 2017: Construction of Fondy Park begins

February 8, 2017: HOME GR/OWN and partners announces 2017 creation of Fondy Park, Phase 1. More information and photos here.

January 18, 2017: HOME GR/OWN named Semi-Finalist for Innovation in American Government Award by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government Ash Center! Learn more

December 2016: Check out our new web page all about the amazing Cream City Farms.

November 16, 2016: Interested in urban food production? Check out this newly-posted online online manual.

October 19th, 2016: North Avenue beautification/greenscaping project publicly announced; target area: 8th-27th Streets with partners Zilber Neighborhood Initiative, Social Development         Commission, City DPW, City DCD, City DNS, Walnut Way, LISC More info at our new website.

October 9th, 2016: Harvest Celebration at Cream City Farms, celebrating the first harvest from Milwaukee's newest, largest and most sustainable commercial urban farms. Cream City Farms was built via a broad public/private partnership, including ECO's HOME GR/OWN initiative. VISIT our new web page on the project.

August 18, 2016: HOME GR/OWN partners with Riverworks Development Corporation to maintain and beautify 2015 Partners for Places parks and orchards, helping create jobs for North Side young adults.

August 1, 2016: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signs on to the Mayors' Monarch Pledge. More info below.

August '16 website additions:

July 2016: HOME GR/OWN helps build new community gardens:

  • Richards & Clark revitalized community garden in Harambee

  • 19th & Chambers revamped community garden

May 13, 2016: HOME GR/OWN receives award from Metcalfe Park community partners for 3 new 2015 parks & orchards

The Mayors' Monarch Pledge

Mayor Tom Barrett has signed on to the Mayors' Monarch Pledge, sponsored by the National Wildlife Association. And he's not alone: over 179 mayors across the United States have joined as well.

So what does this pledge mean?


ECO City of Milwaukee, via its HOME GR/OWN initiative, will be working hard in the next year to communicate the importance of creating and preserving habitat for the monarch butterfly in particular, but really all butterflies and pollinators in the City of Milwaukee. Since we started we have begun a milkweed seed giveaway, carried out a social media campaign on monarchs and pollinators, created a butterfly garden at a neighborhood school and have done outreach at public events. In 2017, we will be transplanting native species from Gillespie Park thoughout Milwaukee's North Side to increase the number of native species important to pollinators.

The Pledge is just an expansion of the work we have done to date to promote pollinator habitats, both online and on the ground. Ezekiel Gillespie Park has been a pollinator/bee/butterfly heaven since it opened in 2014. Our 2015 and 2016 native plantings at over 21 HOME GR/OWN sites took place long before we signed the Pledge. Look for more information here and at our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. More information on the Mayors' Monarch Pledge can be found here.

Milkweed seed packets are available at the ECO office, please contact up if you are interested.

Mayor's for Monarchs pledge badge



HOME GR/OWN named Semi-Finalist for 2017
Harvard Kennedy School of Government's Ash Center Innovation in American Government Award

January 18, 2017

Harvard's Ash Center Announces Bright Ideas and Semifinalists for 2017 Innovations in American Government Awards

Cambridge, Mass. – The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today more than 60 innovative government programs as part of the 2017 Bright Ideas initiative. This year’s cohort includes programs from all levels of government — school districts, county, city, state, federal agencies, and tribal nations, as well as public-private partnerships — that represent the next horizon in government work to improve services, solve problems, and work on behalf of citizens.

“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center, “small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”

This is the fifth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching, have sufficient operational resources, and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.

The Ash Center also announced the 100 programs named as Semifinalists in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards program, which will compete to be named Finalists and will have the chance to be awarded the two $100,000 grand prizes in Cambridge this spring. These programs advanced from a pool of more than 500 applications from all 50 states, and were selected by the Innovations Award evaluators as examples of novel and effective action whose work has had significant impact, and who they believe can be replicated across the country and the world.

The Semifinalist programs represent a cross-section of jurisdictions and policy areas, and embody one of the most diverse and sophisticated groups that have advanced to this stage in the competition’s 30-year history. They were invited to complete a supplementary application last fall, answering in-depth questions about their work, the process of creating and sustaining their programs, and how they believe they can teach others to do what they do. The Ash Center expects to announce 10 programs that will be named Finalists and be invited to Cambridge to present to the Innovation Awards Program’s National Selection Committee in March, with the grand prizewinners to be named in June.

Please visit the Government Innovators Network for the full list of Bright Ideas and Semifinalist programs, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.




Partners for Places
SXSW Eco international Places by Design Winner

In October, 2015, HOME GR/OWN's Partners for Places project was named the WINNER of the SXSW Environmental Collaboration Office international Places by Design contest in the Urban Strategies category. Tim McCollow, HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee Program Manager and Carolyn Esswein of the UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning Community Design Solutions (CDS) 'pitched' on behalf of our many partners in Austin, TX, talking about our 2014 Ezekiel Gillespie Park and our community engagement process and site designs for our (20) 2015 Partners for Places spaces. CDS led our design team which included neighborhood residents who participated in the design workshops. Learn more.




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Mayor Tom Barrett’s HOME GR/OWN initiative is working to transform neighborhoods. Learn more about us and what we do. HOME GR/OWN In the News.


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In 2016 & 2017, HOME GR/OWN is focused on the "greenscaping" of North Avenue between 4th - 27th Streets and the construction of Fondy Park

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We can help residents re-purpose vacant lots, grow their own food and increase access to healthy, local food.

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Engage and Connect

Help HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee create Strong Neighborhoods and create beautiful, sustainable spaces using City-owned vacant lots.



New City Food Access Mapping

(posted July 2017)

The City Department of City Development (DCD) has produced some detailed mapping of healthy food access issues as part of its study on healthy food access and new supermarket potential within the City, a Common Council request led by Alderman Khalif Rainey. HOME GR/OWN consulted on the DCD study. While DCD's study is ongoing, the following maps have been released. 

Food Access and Poverty Rate                            Food Access and Population Density

Food Access and Purchasing Power                     Food Access and City Vacant Properties

Food Access and MCTS Bus Routes                     Food Access and SNAP Recipiency

Food Access and Grocery Store Service Areas


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MLK Peace Place 

Partners for Places

See Milwaukee's 20 new HOME GR/OWN parks!

Ezekiel Gillespie Park 

HOME GR/OWN Wins SXSW Eco Places by Design Contest

HOME GR/OWN's Partners for Places project was recently named a WINNER of the SXSW Eco International Places by Design contest in the Urban Strategies category!

Tim McCollow
HOME GR/OWN Program Manager

(414) 286-3748

Connect with Us

Ezekiel Gillespie Park

See a drone's-eye view of 2015 MANDI Award for Best Public Space

and 2015 Mayor's Design Award-winning Ezekiel Gillespie Park!

Check us out on Instagram at homegrownmke

Fly over HOME GR/OWN projects on our YouTube page

How You Can Help

Funds donated to HOME GR/OWN will be used to support City-owned vacant lot projects which coincide with the following HOME GR/OWN objectives:

  • Increase access to local, healthy food
  • Revitalizing/engaging communities