Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2016 Summer Garden Update

Greetings, gardeners… (and friends of the garden!)

Wow, the garden is looking fantastic these days, thanks to all the efforts of our gardeners, their families, and the community volunteers that have stepped forward to help us out. We have had several new projects take off, and I thought it would be a good time to let you all know how we are doing organizationally.

Current Projects

Parkway garden companion planting demonstration bed

The biggest change in the garden this year is the seven boxes along the north edge of the garden, our new public parkway garden.

Parkway garden herb bed
The Howard Area Community Center Youth Group has been instrumental in the success of this space, and now we have lots of vegetables and herbs that the public are encouraged to sample and harvest for their own use.

Parkway garden pollinator box
It's been so amazing, watching this project grow from a crazy random idea, to getting the boxes donated from the Howard Area Theater Garden, to winning the Rogers Park Garden Group parkway grant, to working with the youth group to plan and plant the boxes, to seeing our neighbors stop and enjoy the flowers and greenery.

Many thanks to Abby Falck, who donated and installed the dog waste bag dispenser on the west end of the north parkway, and also the flowers on the northeast corner. Thanks also to Chester Kos, who has been responsible for the care of all the lawn on the parkway to the west of the garden.

We now have three plots that are being shared by one of our gardeners and a volunteer. So far, this pairing has allowed gardeners who would have had to give up their plots due to health reasons to stay in our garden with a little help from the volunteer. If you are having trouble, you don't have to give up your garden! Contact the garden coordinator and let us know, so you can get a helping hand and stay involved.

The bees are busy and happy! One of our beekeepers, Mark Bee, will present a workshop about our bees during our August workday. Curious about the honey? Wondering why we have a hive? Worried about stings? Come join us and get some answers!


We have a workday coming up this Saturday, July 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We will be talking about edible urban foraging during the workshop. Our next workdays are August 15 (bees), September 19 (vermiculture), October 24 (closing workday). Come on by, have a snack and a chat, and lend a hand!

Please remember: it's mosquito season, and West Nile virus has been detected in Cook County mosquitos. We cannot have ANY standing water in the garden, so please make sure buckets and such are turned upside down when you're not using them.

Each gardener is responsible for clearing the weeds along any outer edges of their plot, even if it borders the alley or sidewalk. Please keep on top of this so it doesn't get out of hand!

Looking Ahead

Projects for this fall include rebuilding the compost area, and erecting a tool/storage shed. We are also trying to find a good source of organic material for us to dig into our gardens this fall, so it can rot over the whole wintertime and become wonderful composted soil for us next spring. More details soon, stay tuned!

We have been talking about putting in a fire pit in the sitting garden along the south edge of the garden. Most folks seem to like the idea, but we have to do it in a responsible way. Also, the possibility of cooking on the fire was raised; some vegetarian folks might be upset having the smell of meat cooking close to their plots. Any input?

Another change that is being discussed is the implementation of residency requirements. Several of our gardeners have moved far from our immediate area, and then they are unable to visit their plot regularly; the neglected plot becomes weedy and unkempt. Is it fair to require gardeners to live within the Howard Area? If so, what should our boundaries be? (One suggestion was the lake, Juneway, Ridge, and Touhy.) What do you think?

Some gardeners have mentioned that they have a lot of extra produce and that they are willing to give it away. Would our gardeners be interested in a central place where they could swap produce? Should we set up a produce-for-donation stand for neighbors as a fundraiser for the garden? Would you be willing to donate extra produce to the local food pantry? Please let us know!


Your feedback on any or all of these ideas is VERY welcome! The garden coordinator (Katje) has set up a mailbox next the gate of her plot so you can leave a note with a comment, idea, complaint, congrats, or anything else (there should be paper and pen inside). Her plot is the one in the middle of the north edge, with the 8-foot-tall stump in it. The Leadership Team needs to hear from you, so please let us know what you think!

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