It’s not a garden. It’s a revolution.

Big picture, little plant


I was sitting at The Peterson Garden Project one day with my friend, Xan. We were tired, understandably. It was June 6th, a month ago. We were thick in the midst of dealing with logistic challenges to getting the garden going–compost for our beds was repeatedly delayed. The fence was repeatedly broken, then repaired, then broken, then repaired. We weren’t sure how long it would take to build the 140 raised beds that we needed to create gardens for our initial gardeners.     

So we sat, tired, under a beat-up tent that had been partially destroyed by the latest compost delivery. LaManda, the garden’s founder, had been teaching classes on planting earlier in the day. Because it was raining, she’d used a pan, some dirt, and miscellaneous seeds and seedlings to demonstrate basic planting techniques to a dozen or so new gardeners–we like to call them “grewbies”–underneath the dilapidated tent.  

So Xan and I sat, talking, about what we were doing with the garden, and in a flash, she said the words that encapsulated all our efforts, intentions, and wishes. She said, “It’s not a garden. It’s a revolution.” And in true Xan style, she followed that up with, “We’ve got to find a pen and write that down! That’s it, but my memory is crap. I’ll forget it. Where’s a pen?”     

I found a pen. She wrote it down. And we may as well have chiseled it in stone: The Peterson Garden Project IS a revolution. It’s a revolution in gardening, in community, in food and hopefully soon, in eating, too.     

140 boxes awaiting compost


Two months in, we are well on our way. We’ve broken ground, built the garden, built 140 raised beds. Then, we built 17 more because we had room and there was demand. We’ve held a fabulous Re-Dedication Party; I’ll write about that soon. It’s all been part of making a community garden, which is simple enough. But I do think we’re part of a much larger movement, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.     

I’ve always been looking for a great revolution. Finally, I’ve found it. 

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7 responses to “It’s not a garden. It’s a revolution.

  1. Great post and I couldn’t agree more that gardening is about community building. I write about my shared garden and what I’m learning from it at my blog, especially the post titled: Community Supported By Agriculture.

    Thanks! Enjoy your season.

  2. Well, I’m just all choked up. First Les comes in with all these fabulous events, and then you remind me not so much about the garden, as about the friendship and inspiration it has spawned.

  3. Good for you! Can’t wait to hear what happens next and see photos as your garden grows!

  4. Thanks for the comments; they are much appreciated Social media has amplified the community-building that comes with the garden; the comments on this blog are just one tiny example of how that’s happened. Xan: I just added an RSS Feed widget to the blog homepage, so you’re good to go.

  5. Am I correct in saying that this spot is no longer open and used but occupied by a Asian Human Services Family Health Center?

    • Yes, that’s right. Today, Peteeson Garden Project has grown to include seven gardens across Chicago. Many gardeners from this original garden are still growing together at one of them, Land on Lincoln, at 5900 N. Lincoln.

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