Operation Grow Logo
Operation Grow Our Story Intro Image
Our Story

We Grow More Than Just Produce

The vision for Operation Grow came directly from the women we serve. During our strategic planning process and subsequent focus groups, the women we serve told us they needed more employability skills and confidence, more food and hope for a brighter future. The women asked for ways to breakaway from the oppressive grips of trauma which is compounded by their lived experiences of multi-generational poverty.

A significant number of the women we serve are not new to us; we have served their grandmothers and their mothers. Many of the women we have spoken with, after having survived the chaos of multi-generational violence and trauma, have never had outside employment modelled to them. In recognition of the needs and realities of women we began to explore and research several business options.

In 2015, the commitment was made to Operation Grow and research began to understand and adopt best practices for social enterprises. In developing our vision we recognized that our business model had to address the predominant social issues identified by the women we serve: social isolation, food insecurity, and poverty.

Operation Grow Our Story Intro Image for the Second Section


At the heart of the business is a vertical farm using cutting edge technology to grow pesticide free, non-GMO produce in stacked rows inside a controlled-indoor environment. Operation Grow will address the demand for local fresh quality produce. Our produce will be distributed locally in both retail and wholesale markets at a competitive price point. Greens will be sold at a reduced cost to low-income women.

The social goals of Operation Grow are all meant to support women in obtaining self-agency and empowerment. Some of these goals include:

  • Increased Employment
  • Employment Stability
  • Improved Standard of Living
  • Increased Social Capital
  • Increased Food Security
  • Decreased Isolation
  • Increased Community Engagement
  • Enhanced Housing Stability
  • Improved Self-Awareness

We also have business goals which will support Operation Grow's ability to reach our social goals. Business goals:

Open a larger-scale vertical farm to provide women who have experienced violence and opportunity for more employment and revenue.

Generate sufficient revenue to sustain Operation Grow and other programs of HTH.


Evolution Points

  • Conducted feasibility study/strategic plan with the support of Lakehead University Business students under the direction of Dr. Akingbola
  • Board approves Operation Grow
  • Sourced small-scale vertical farm technology/equipment from
  • Developed a business plan with Dr. Akingbola from Lakehead
  • University Board struck a working group of subject matter experts to oversee
  • Operation Grow's development
  • Conducted extensive site search resulting in the purchase of the old LCBO building in December 2016

Social Enterprise

Social enterprise exemplifies the ethics of an economy of care wherein the goals of social well-being, environmental health and sustainability, and cultural diversity are at the fore. It evades traditional restrictions on who is included in the labour market by encouraging values such as collaboration, connection, and both social and environmental benefits, as well as by identifying the intrinsic connection between personal and economic well-being. At Operation Grow, this has empowered the participation of women and community members in ways aligned with the goals of addressing food scarcity, isolation, poverty, and the impacts of trauma. Engaging in a social enterprise model has allowed Operation Grow to put emphasis on women’s health and wellbeing, assets and capabilities in efforts to foster economic stability, as well as on the importance of social support as a means of both building and sustaining those assets.  

Supporting social, environmental, and economic change 

We believe the power of social enterprise rests in the idea that we can each make a powerful difference in building a world where each individual recognizes the power they have to create positive and lasting change in their community. By providing opportunities to women and creating opportunities for community involvement, we are nourishing a vision of social transformation where violence against women will truly end.