Chicago Community Garden Tour

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.

Happy Gardening!!


Bad news and good news about the composting workshop.

The bad news is not many people showed up and the presenters were late.  The good news is for us diehard composter wannabes who braved temperatures in the 90s, we got personalized attention from Minnie McMahon, the  intern that oversees the garden, and I was able to get one of the garden plots. 

That’s my plot right there with my name on the stick.

Here are a few pictures of the garden.  (Hover to get a description of the picture and click on image to get a larger view)

In my own little compost world, I’m going to dump the compost from my leaf bag  even though everything is not totally broken down yet.  

As you can see, the contents have shrunken down to about 30 percent of the total amount of stuff that went into it (all the growth from the trees along the side of the garage, my neighbor’s grass clippings, miscellaneous weeds and trimmings from the yard, food scraps including the rind from a watermelon and two cantaloupes, shredded newspaper and computer paper, dirt from dead plants, a sprinkling of peat moss), and everything is nice and dark.   And, yes, this little bit of compost did get up to at least 120 on multiple days.

The weather’s been so hot, I’m sure it won’t be long before it’s totally broken down.  Plus, my next batch of greens is coming.

Happy Gardening!!