In the lobby of the Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee, a space-age-looking Grow Machine cultivating more than leafy greens. Sojourner installed two Grow Machines, which are essentially vertical
hydroponic units, created by Alex Tyink of Fork Farms. Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin wrote a grant to purchase the machines for the center.

“We want people to know that we’re here to give them warmth, love, care and dignity, and food is very much a part of that,” said Carmen Pitre, president & CEO of Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee. Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin now has 28 of the Grow Machines placed with its member agencies and plans for more. The machines allow on-site production of lettuce, kale, herbs and other vegetables, producing high-nutrient, pesticide-free foods in a quick 21-day harvest cycle.

The cycle of planting, growing and harvesting is a process that takes time and can be a powerful metaphor for clients. “You don’t come in and heal in one day totally,” Carmen said. “Healing and restoration of a violence-free life can be a journey.”