Neighbor Space, a Chicago organization that helps Chicagoans protect public gardening sites hosted community garden tours. I chose the south side tour because I’m a southsider and wanted to see what’s going on in my own neighborhood.
We visited four gardens. First was the Rainbow Beach Community Garden. This is the oldest community garden in Chicago. The plots are huge, almost as large my entire back yard. Many of the plots had what we’re guessing is an apricot tree planted near them. This garden is located at 79th and South Shore Drive, a few feet from the lakefront.
The second garden we visited was the Jackson Park Urban Farm. This is where my community plot is located. This garden is run by Growing Power. Half the garden is divided into community plots offered free of charge to the community, and the other half is a production side for Growing Power where they harvest the crops and they are sold at Farmer’s markets. Growing Power also employs youth who were on hand to give us a guided tour of the garden. They also offer workshops for the community. (Good luck, Minnie, in your next endeavor).
The third garden we visited was the 65th and Woodlawn Community Garden. I actually drove past this garden a while ago as they were planting broccoli on the outside of the fence. I thought that was a little strange, but at the tour we saw this sign.
What a novel way to discourage people from stealing.
This garden charges $35 per year for a 10×10 plot. You have first dibs at continuing “ownership” of the plot from year to year. This garden is quite nice. They have a barbecue grill, which one of the gardeners was grilling hot dogs while we were there. There was a lot of individuality in the way the gardens were set up.
The last garden we visited was the Brickyard Community garden located at 61st and Woodlawn. While giving the history of the garden, the garden manager mentioned that there were human ashes along with buried animals in the garden. What a coincidence. I told my kids that I want to be cremated and have my ashes sprinkled over some perennials so they would remember me when the perennials came back every year.
Here’s a slide show with some pictures of the gardens.
Here’s a write-up of the tour at Seeding Chicago.