The Peterson Garden Project has rapidly come to life. The interesting thing is: we haven’t even planted yet. So what’s going on?
I joined the project for a few reasons. I love fresh food, and want to learn to grow my own. Plus the benefits of growing food locally have a significant impact on a city’s sustainable development, and that’s important to me. I also love gardening—it’s swiftly becoming my favorite hobby.
What I didn’t see coming was the incredible community impact of the garden.
While helping to plan and promote the project, I’ve met an amazing group of people, all drawn to the community garden project for different reasons. From LaManda, the project’s founder, I’ve learned about Chicago’s Victory Garden legacy. But more importantly: I’ve seen the catalytic affect her inspiration and leadership have on a project. This isn’t just a garden for LaManda: it’s a life mission. And she’s looking for accomplices.
From there, the cast of gardeners grows. From the young dancer who has a passion for baking pastries, to the ice-skating grant-writer looking to share her incredible knowledge of growing and cooking food, this garden is bringing people together.
Entrepreneurs. Artists. People looking for a new career path—they’re all here. And: they’re mainly my neighbors. I had the pleasure of meeting John and Eileen, who have lived in my neighborhood—Arcadia Terrace, for the record—for 50 years. They’ve never grown vegetables before, but when they got the flyer for the Peterson Garden Project, they figured: why not?
It’s never too late to learn to grow your own vegetables. And it’s not too late to plant them this year, either. Come on over and join in on the fun; volunteers are always welcome at The Peterson Garden Project.
In the 1940’s, Chicago was home to one of the most vibrant Victory Garden cultures in the country. With post-war families growing rapidly and food in short supply, Chicagoans took to community gardens to grow vegetables and put dinner on their tables.
Today, community gardening is once again gaining momentum, but for different reasons. Personally, I became interested in urban gardening for two reasons. First, because I like the flavor of fresh, organic vegetables. And second, because I am looking for ways to contribute to a more sustainable future for my city. Turns out, there are lots of people doing the very same thing… in my own neighborhood.
This weekend, I was introduced to the Peterson Garden Project. It’s a local effort led by one of my neighbors, a blogger who writes at The Yarden. She began doing research on Chicago Victory Gardens, and decided it was high time to revive the tradition. So: she found a site, talked to Alderman O’Connor, rallied her troops, and… voila! A reborn Victory Garden breaks ground this Friday, May 21 at 11 a.m.
My plan for my plot at the Peterson Community Garden
Naturally: I had to be a part of it. So here’s my plan for what will be my first foray into community gardening. Now that my own square foot garden is firmly in place in my own back yard, I’ll use the community garden space for a few things. First, to meet my neighbors. Second, to learn about gardening from people who know a heck of a lot more about it than I do. And finally, to grow some unusual veggies to share with my friends. If you’re hungry & willing to help me weed a little now and again, come on out to the garden and dig in!
Box Number One, at the back of my house. Square foot garden #2, along my garage, on top of the sidewalk.
At long last, after many weeks of toil, construction, dirt-mixing and planting, here are my raised bed gardens. It’s official: I am an urban farmer.
The second square foot garden, along my garage, on top of a sidewalk.
I’ve faced a few surprises. First, mixing a bunch of dirt is hard, in terms of the physical effort. Don’t let the books fool you. And then, the agonizing part: waiting for seeds to sprout. In my case, the subject of much staring, worrying, and even blaming wonton, seed-eating birds has been the situation with my peas. I planted eight. I have two sprouts.
When do I give up and plant a few more? What’s the right timeframe? How do I fend off the marauding robins and squirrels who are the likely culprits of my struggling pea crop? I’ll be thinking about all of this for a few more days.
Two peas sprouting in a square. Where are the other two?
The lettuce, on the other hand, is marching on. Don’t know what’s going on with the head lettuce, but the leaf lettuce is a great source of hope for me.