C.A.R. BICENTENNIAL COMMUNITY GARDEN & RESOURCES
We are extremely excited to be partnering with the Peterson Garden Project to create the C.A.R. Bicentennial Garden at Global Garden! We are developing this community garden in honor of Illinois’ 200th birthday with the goal of creating a lasting impact on our many diverse neighborhoods. The Peterson Garden Project is a Chicago-based nonprofit whose mission is to teach everyone how to grow and cook their own food. The garden will provide for local seniors, refugees, children and other community members in need.
Why Community Gardens?
Community gardens aren’t a new fad in Chicago. In fact, Chicago was home to the most “victory gardens” as they were deemed in World War II with over 1,500 community gardens and 250,000 home gardens. Today, community gardens are popping up all over the city and impacting the community in a variety of positive ways, with components like food-growing education programs, volunteer opportunities, cooking demonstrations and last but not least – food to fill the stomachs of those in need. There are three main factors we find community gardens to be extremely beneficial for:
Food insecurity continues to be an issue in low-income areas of Chicago. According to Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap study, approximately 14 percent of people in Cook County will experience food insecurity this year. Additionally, many food insecure households do not qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs. This unfortunately leaves those in charge of the households torn between paying for bills, food and other living essentials. Community gardens could bridge this gap, providing inexpensive, nutritious options to those in need.
Clean Food Source
Today, we find ourselves becoming more concerned about the contents of our food. Are our groceries organic or GMO-enhanced? Processed or clean? While some have the liberty of spending more to purchase organic goods, many do not. Hence, the concept of growing your own produce is beginning to trend in the city. Fruits and vegetables planted on your own and in community gardens are free of undesirable chemicals and are usually much less expensive than those found in the grocery store.
According to Green Matters Community Garden in Minnesota, food travels an average of 1300 miles from farm to fork. Producing food locally reduces greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel usage. Plants make city living greener by restoring oxygen in the air, helping reduce pollution and improve overall air quality. Gardens soak up rain water to reduce soil erosion and runoff, lessening flooding in the city.
How to Get Started
Starting a community garden is no easy feat, but it is extremely rewarding. According to LaManda Joy, founder of the Peterson Garden Project, the hardest part may seem like it’s the heavy lifting and getting down in the dirt – but it’s actually building your community. Creating a successful mission statement, doing research on your area of interest and understanding city legal requirements are just a few ways to ensure a successful garden. Check out some of our favorite resources for more information:
- Start a Community Garden, The Essential Handbook by LaManda Joy
- Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland by Peterson Garden Project
- Applications and requirements from the Chicago Park District
- Planning and zoning within Chicago FAQ’s
Gardens are appearing all over the city, each with their own unique mission and events. Volunteer opportunities range from food pantry deliveries to spending the day planting. Wondering where to find a garden near you? Use the Chicago Park District’s directory.
- C.A.R. Bicentennial Garden Volunteer Day – November 10
- Peterson Garden Project Volunteer Application
- Chicago Community Gardeners Association Volunteer Application
- NeighborSpace Volunteer Application