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BB Podcast Episode 87: Hannah Bonham Blackwell

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Hannah Bonham Blackwell holding a bridal bouquet and standing next to a young man who is a Southside Blooms team member

Today we’re visiting with Hannah Bonham Blackwell of Southside Blooms in the Englewood community of Chicago, Illinois. Southside Blooms, which is a project of Chicago Eco House (a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of using sustainability to alleviate poverty), is a farm-to-vase florist providing unique and fashion-forward arrangements, while maintaining an uncompromising dedication to both the environment and the surrounding communities. One hundred percent of their money goes directly towards fulfilling this mission. That means every flower purchased from Southside Blooms creates jobs for at-risk youth, converts vacant lots into safe and productive community assets, and actively contributes to the health and resilience of the environment through regenerative farming practices.

We hope you’ll join us for this conversation as we talk with Hannah about:

  • using sustainable practices in flower farming
  • unlocking creativity in the youth who work at Southside Blooms
  • the importance of being based in the area where Southside Blooms employees live
  • how Chicago Eco House acquired land for 4 urban farms in Chicago (plus another in Gary, Indiana)
  • thoughts on expansion
  • staffing wins and challenges
  • finding farming techniques that work for the Southside Blooms business model
  • the key to offering opportunities that are compatible with the community you serve

A shed at the end of a row of flowers on the Southside Blooms farm in ChicagoYellow tulips grown by Southside Blooms wrapped in newspaper Two young men holding bunches of tulips grown at Southside Blooms Teenager harvesting purple hyacinth at the Southside Blooms farm in Chicago


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Hannah with her family as her husband Quilen Blackwell, President and Founder of Chicago Eco House, receives the The FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for his efforts in getting Chicago Eco House and Southside Blooms off the ground as a viable alternative to street gangs in Chicago.

Images: Southside Blooms, Chicago Eco House, Patty Wetli of WTTW News



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Host: Amy McGee (Botanical Brouhaha + Bloom Trust Co.)

BB Podcast Sound Engineer: Grayson McGee

Music Written & Performed by: Landon McGee

If you enjoyed this episode, you might also enjoy our conversation with Steven Dyme, owner of Flowers for Dreams.  Click here to listen.




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