So far this season we have harvested 2,550 pounds of fresh produce - and this food has directly nourished residents of the community, who have received food donations and cooked meals through PBMR on a weekly basis. On a weekly basis, approximately 25-30 neighborhood residents line up to receive bags of fresh produce donations for themselves and their families. We also have hired two at-risk young men and one neighborhood mother to work in the garden; these individuals are supporting their families and benefitting the community through their work.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Some of the challenges involved in growing our urban community garden on the south side of Chicago include: having enough planting beds available to rotate crops during the spring and fall seasons; finding outside resources to help fund and assist with the expansion of the garden; and continuing to grow robust and healthy crops during the fall season as temperatures drop.
How are you working to overcome them?
We have overcome some of these challenges by having our youth carpentry class build eleven new beds 12'x31/2x24" to match the beds we currently had. They also built 3 cold frames to accommodate the new seedlings a place to harden off before planting. This garden project provided four other young men with a job and paycheck. This project is consistent with our mission to be a restorative justice center.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
We learned the importance of having partners - other gardeners to share ideas and crops with, and others who love the mission of healing the community through restorative justice. As a community we continue to learn, read, experiment, and coax our plants along with the people we serve in order that our world will become more healthy, hopeful, and peaceful.