Partner Updates

Park 540 Community Garden

By Elizabeth BrunerJune 26, 2018 No Comments
What were your biggest successes this season?

Our biggest success this season was completing the construction of our new community garden! The community garden began as a dream about two years ago, and organizers have been working hard since then to find a location, raise money, gather community support, and build our new raised beds. We are thrilled that construction was completed this spring and that individuals have been able to begin gardening. The community garden opened at the beginning of June and will see its first harvest this summer/fall.

What challenges did or does your project face?

One major challenge our project faced was coordinating all the elements needed for construction. There were many delays, including several related to weather. We had to coordinate with many vendors to have materials delivered at the right time and to safeguard materials throughout the construction process. Scheduling and logistics proved to be very complicated. Another major challenge was budgeting for construction supplies. Although we researched prices extremely carefully, we found that in the end our estimates were high for some materials and low for others, that prices had changed, and that materials had become unavailable. A final challenge was fundraising and developing a purchasing and payment process. Our organizers worked diligently to raise enough money to complete our project. Once we had raised money, we had to research purchasing and payment methods. Our group had a bank account and checks, but no credit card, which was an obstacle to purchasing in some cases.

How are you working to overcome them?

The keys to Park 540 Community Garden’s ability to overcome these challenges were patience, community support, and hard work. When construction was rained out repeatedly, we didn’t give up! We just rescheduled, knowing that we needed to persist and that if we weren’t able to start gardening until later in the summer, it would be okay. We also relied heavily on our deep network of community members, volunteers, and supporters to staff construction days and help with construction projects. We could not have done it without them! Finally, many garden members worked extremely hard on our project--researching prices, meeting with banks, calling vendors to get quotes, filling out purchase orders, and writing grants.

What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?

We have learned a lot of lessons this season. We’ve learned to always have a lot of wiggle room in our budget because unanticipated costs will always pop up. We’ve learned not to depend on a hard and fast schedule when construction is involved because there will always be unanticipated construction delays. We’ve learned to grow and maintain a dependable support network and utilize each individual’s specific talents--whether it’s the ability to write well, do accounting, use a wheelbarrow, or meet construction workers every morning with hot coffee. It takes a village!

Project Name:

Park 540 Community Garden

Project Location:

2401 S Federal Street, Chicago, IL 60616

Number of People Reached:

50

Update Author:

Elizabeth Bruner