CHICAGO (CBS) — Only on 2.
A Chicago police officer is planting the seed to give kids something healthy to do after school. The idea came after Whole Foods. Englewood closed its doors last year.
CBS 2’s Sharda Gray shows us how he takes steps to change the neighborhood and children’s lives.
“Roasted parsley, growing in the dead of winter. That’s how I know this garden is meant for something.”
Officer Kenneth Griffin wants to make sure kids in his Englewood neighborhood know how to grow their own produce.
“We’ve grown bell peppers. Jalapeno peppers.”
Griffin started a non-profit organization in 2017 called Whatever. Its purpose is to counsel young children in traumatic situations. He and other officers invest in youth through mental health treatment, job readiness training and mentoring.
“We try to help build them and let them know that no matter what situation you face, no matter what you see in your neighborhood, you don’t have to be a product of your environment. Make your neighborhood your product.” Griffin said.
So, after Whole Foods closed its doors near 63rd and Halsted, Griffin rounded up the kids in the area.
“I asked them what they would like to see in their neighborhood. And ‘How do we build a community garden?’
Last summer at the Chicago Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, a group of students and officers built the garden and planted many vegetables and herbs in memory of Denzel Thornton, who died in the 2016 gun attack. .
“This is probably because everyone’s favorite place is because of the collard greens.”
You may remember Griffin from a story CBS2 did a year ago. This photo with the little boy went viral in 2021 after it was posted on Instagram.
“She was, how are you, officer?”
That greeting was much needed because he had a difficult day after a child lost his life in a fire accident. This year, Griffin wants to turn the abandoned building next to the garden and turn the pot into a plasterer.
“No matter what, I’m going to keep building Englewood.”
Griffin said he hopes to take ownership of the building by the end of this summer and begin renovations. Griffin also said he is working with Chicago Public Schools to develop a program to teach children financial literacy.