LaDonna RedmondNat Damm

LaDonna Redmond

President, Institute for Community Resource Development; Founder, Graffiti and Grub
Chicago, Ill.

A decade ago, LaDonna Redmond found that her infant son had an array of food allergies. After doing research, she concluded the best diet for her family was organic whole foods. Trouble was, in her west Chicago neighborhood, very little food was available that wasn’t highly processed and full of additives—much less organic. Redmond didn’t get frustrated—she got working. “I … wondered just how much effort it would it take to grow some lettuce and a couple of tomatoes (little did I know the ultimate ramifications of that simple question),” she later wrote. “After some more research, my husband and I decided to convert our backyard into what we called a ‘micro-farm.’” Eventually, they rolled out a nonprofit called the Institute for Community Resource Development that converted vacant lots into productive gardens, making the West Side “food desert” bloom with fresh veggies. Last year, Redmond and her crew turned their attention to the South Side, opening a grocery store called Graffiti and Grub and yet more community gardens.

Watch a news segment on Redmond and Graffiti and Grub: