The grow house next door

Two teachers. Two hundred marijuana plants. Two years in court.

By Ben Joravsky @joravben and Mick Dumke @mickeyd1971
On December 5, 2009, Cook County sheriff’s police sergeant Patrick Donovan spotted two men in a white, windowless cargo van on the loading dock of a shop called the Brew and Grow, tucked between Elston and the Kennedy expressway. Donovan watched from his car 40 yards away as the men—one of them medium height and stocky, the other tall and gangly—loaded large tables, fans, and four-foot filters into the van.

The Brew and Grow, which has since moved, sells tools and equipment for home beer making and hydroponic gardening, including the fertilizers and nutrients to grow everything from arugula to broccoli to marijuana. And Cook County sheriff’s police routinely stake out the store and other retailers like it, surveying who buys what.

There’s no evidence they’re interested in the broccoli growers.