2017 Semifinalist
City of Milwaukee, WI
January 1, 2017

HOME GR/OWN Milwaukee is an initiative of Mayor Tom Barrett, led by the city's Environmental Collaboration Office, and is a public-private partnership transforming city and neighborhood liabilities (vacant lots) into award-winning pocket parks, orchard parks, community gardens, and commercial farms. These sites are designed and built by neighborhood residents, creating new, green community gathering spaces emphasizing urban food production and placemaking. The program works at three levels: inside City Hall by removing potential barriers to urban agriculture and vacant lot repurposing, in the marketplace by 1) increasing local food production to meet local demand, 2) local food-based economic development, and at the neighborhood level by building green spaces designed and built by North Side residents and UW-M CDS architecture students. In spring 2014, the City Council passed new urban agriculture legislation making Milwaukee a progressive national food leader. In the summer 2014, HOME GR/OWN built Ezekiel Gillespie pocket park on land that was previously two vacant lots and a razed home. The park has storm water management, fruit trees, berries, and native perennials, and was built by minority workers receiving job training. Gillespie Park was named Milwaukee’s “Best Public Space” in April 2015. In 2015, the award-winning Partners for Places project partnered with 17 community based organizations, eight operating partners, and five philanthropies, to build 20 pocket parks and orchard parks designed by residents and architecture students across Milwaukee’s North Side on 28 vacant lots, employing 16 residents and planting 230 fruit trees with partner Growing Power.