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HOME GR/OWN - an initiative of Mayor Tom Barrett and the City Environmental Collaboration Office


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 in City neighborhoods and commercial corridors.
  • Make it easier to grow and 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 into parks, orchards and healthy green spaces, increasing Milwaukee quality of life.
  • Work within Milwaukee's community food system to link local growers to local markets, increase urban food infrastructure (water, access, compost), support new urban farms and increase the number of healthy food retailers and wholesalers.


Latest News

January 2018: What if you could pick up a box nearby your house filled with local farmer-fresh produce every week this summer/fall during harvest season? That type of service is called a "CSA", for "community supported agriculture. Numerous area farmers offer a CSA subscription plan each year and the Urban Ecology Center is scheduling a "Know Your Farmer" CSA sign-up event this March. HOME GR/OWN and the City Health Department have partnered with the Milwaukee Food Council to promote CSAs in the Milwaukee area this winter. More information to follow but click here for more information on CSAs in general. Looking for fresh, local food now? The Fondy Farmers Market Winter Market is open every Saturday at the Domes from 9am - 1pm. 

December 2017: HOME GR/OWN and its Fondy Park partners have been named a Finalist in LISC's 2018 MANDI Awards! Fondy Park and the Riverwest 24 event were named Finalists in the Brewers Community Foundation Public Space category. Winners will be announced in March 2018. In 2015, HOME GR/OWN and its partners' Ezekiel Gillespie Park won the MANDI for "Best Public Space".

November 2017: Fondy Winter Farmers Market now open Saturdays 9-1 at the Greenhouse Annex at Mitchell Park Domes.

October 2017: Third annual ECO Pumpkin Patch at Fondy Park, givng away 200 pumpkins to neighborhood families. Fondy Park partners awarded the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's Green Luminaries award for the giant Fondy Park stormwater management project. Video here. HOME GR/OWN and other Milwaukee urban agriculture organizations and leaders featured in national Civil Eats profile. ECO and HOME GR/OWN speak about energy efficiency and urban agriculture to a Russian delegation hosted by the U.S. State Department. Work with North Avenue property owners on facade grant implementation continues. New web page devoted to 2017 Amani public art projects at HOME GR/OWN parks. See before and afters of the North Avenue greenscaping here.

September 2017: Fondy Park hardscape completed and prairie planted. Fondy Park opened on September 16th! Final work on stage to be completed 1st week of October. The last major public art installation, beautiful mosaic planters funded by BRICO Fund and created by artist Ann Wydeven and Amani community members, unveiled at the Amani Community Orchard on September 21st.

August 2017: HOME GR/OWN, artist Marina Lee and the BRICO Fund unveil new Partners for Places public art at Carter Park, 24th & Burleigh. Photos here. HOME GR/OWN revitalizes Bronzeville neighborhood as part of North Avenue Greenscaping Project by removing asphalt and relandscaping 2 prominent vacant lots, untouched for decades. 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. Artist Marina Lee installs her "AMANI" art piece in HOME GR/OWN's Carter Park at 24th  & Burleigh as a final piece of HOME GR/OWN's Partners for Places Project. Installation of Blanche Brown's artwork at 2015 P4P Carter Park.

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 Department of Public Works, City Department of City Development, Business Improvement District #32, City Department of Neighborhood Services, Walnut Way and LISC Milwaukee. More info at our webpage.

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



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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 2017, HOME GR/OWN is focused on the "greenscaping" of North Avenue between 5th - 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.


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 Announced 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 included programs from all levels of government — school districts, county, city, state, federal agencies, and tribal nations, as well as public-private partnerships — that represented 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 was 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 needed to currently be in operation or in the process of launching, have sufficient operational resources, and 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 were 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 represented a cross-section of jurisdictions and policy areas, and embodied 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 expected to announce 10 programs that would 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 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.



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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Fondy Park

See ECO's new Fondy Park that opened 9/16/17

MLK Peace Place 

North Avenue Greenscape

North Avenue 8th to 27th streetscaping 2016/2017

Flower planters 

Amani Public Art

See Amani's 2 new public art projects

Tim McCollow
HOME GR/OWN Program Manager
(414) 286-3748


Connect With Us

Connect via E-Notify Connect on Facebook Connect on Twitter Browser our photo gallery

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

HOME GR/OWN and our partners were named MMSD's October Green Luminary for the Fondy Park stormwater management project. #fondypark17


Aerial Footage of HOME GR/OWN sites

2017 Fondy Park

Fly over Milwaukee's newest eco-park, video as of 9/14/17.

New video about Fondy Park Grand Opening here.

Ezekiel Gillespie Park

See a drone's-eye view of the park chosen for the 2015 MANDI

Award for Best Public Space and a 2015 Mayor's Design Award.

Check us out on Instagram at homegrownmke

Fly over HOME GR/OWN projects on our YouTube page