I have developed a new found passion for community based urban agriculture, which spawned from my love of worm composting. I have been educating students and adults about worm composting for over two years now and I have truly come to appreciate the holistic approach of urban agriculture. I realized that just teaching about worm composting was just one small piece of what I should be teaching about, I wanted to support the idea of educating healthy people to create a healthy planet.
I live in Chicago, which as you know is very urban, and it is riddled with food deserts. A food desert is an area or community that has little or no access to grocery stores that would provide the necessary healthy food options that other communities have readily available. Many of these food desert areas are also inundated with empty vacant lots, many of which are city owned. I looked at this and realized these communities could support urban agriculture because they have the space and the need.
Luckily the City of Chicago supports community gardens and most Aldermen do as well. In conjunction with Safer Foundation and The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance I now manage two community garden sites in Chicago’s East Garfield Park neighborhood that provides food security, education and community support. I work with local schools, business and organizations to create a supportive community that supports these projects. If you ever drive around Garfield Park you will now see many of the vacant lots have been turned to community gardens, it is not just a trend but it is turning into a new way of life for the community.
Interested in starting your own garden? Check out the links to Greencoprs and NeighborSpace to the right.
The first site, which is a true community garden, Friends Community Garden, was my first project. This summer will kick off the second season for Friends and we are very excited to have small group of community farmers using the site. We are looking forward to growing tomatoes, kale, collards, zucchini, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers and potatoes this year! If you are ever in the area feel free to stop by. Friends Community Garden is located at 217 North Sacramento Boulevard, near the corner of Lake and Sacramento.
The second site, which is a permaculture community garden, The Al Raby Living Classroom, is located across the street from a local high school, Al Raby School for Community and Environment. This garden serves as a native garden for birds, insects and animals, a outdoor learning environment for the students at Al Raby, and a community garden space for the local neighbors. For those of you unfamiliar with the term permaculture is a term that describes the relationship with people, earth and the other animals. We designed this space to benefit all users and used embedded energy within the site to create the landscape. This garden is located near 3545 West Fulton Boulevard.