Economic Justice · Environment

Chicago’s Peterson Garden Project

Peterson Garden ProjectWhat happens when you have a vacant lot in a city? Rather than leave the space empty, North Chicago is turning vacant lots into pop-up gardens. According to a Nation Swell article by Kathleen O’Brian, “North Chicago Vacant Lots Turn Into Pop-Up Gardens,” a local resident, Lamonda Joy, has taken these lots and transformed them into gardens. The great thing about these pop-up gardens is that they are being used to grow organic food.

The Peterson Garden Project is the largest of these gardens. The inspiration for such gardens was taken from “Victory Gardens.” During World War II, many foods were rationed, and transportation shortages due to the war effort made it difficult to harvest foods and move them to markets. As a result, individuals were encouraged to begin their own victory gardens – gardens where they would grow their own fruits and vegetables. When a backyard or farm wasn’t available, individuals used empty city lots and even city rooftops. Neighbors would pool their resources and form cooperatives where they would share the work and the fruit (and vegetables) of their labors.

The reason these gardens are called “pop up” gardens is that they are not meant to be permanent. The gardens are tended for a few years, and then the space can be used for something else while the beds are picked up and moved into another space.

The program provides food to share with others and has a number of programs interested persons can get invovled with!

  • Grow2Give™ is a volunteer-run program where fresh produce is grown and then shared with others at food pantries or nutrition programs chosen by the community.
  • Senior/Senior is a program uniting senior citizens with high school seniors to grow food and cook together while sharing stories.
  • Fresh Cooking and Fresh Fridays teaches nutrition and skills for the kitchen
  • Kids in the Kitchen helps kids build skills and confidence with cooking and growing their own food
  • Scholarships and In-Garden Program Partnerships – 10% of the garden space is set aside for scholarships for individual families and food growing programs
  • Cooking classes
  • Garden education

In addition, the Peterson Garden Project is involved with these joint efforts:

How you can get involved with the Peterson Garden Project:

What will you do to get involved with the Peterson Garden Project? Post your thoughts in the comments section.


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