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winter urban gardening

February 7, 2012

loyola gardenfor years i have been talking up the fact that food can be grown and harvested in any season, even in colder climates. with angelic organics learning center, i co-taught “grow year round in chicago,” a class designed to help people do just that.

some of the participants in our “grow year round” class — and subsequent workshops on building cold frames and low tunnels — were students in loyola university chicago’s STEP (solutions to environmental problems) program. at the time, they were one of the many community groups participating in the planning and creation of the ruby garden in rogers park. they were also hoping to build a demonstration garden on campus, but hadn’t yet found a good location when i left chicago in spring of 2010.

last month, on one of our unseasonably warm days, i was near the loyola campus and noticed a few raised beds in a corner lot. this lot was in fact one of the many we had considered as a possible location for what became the ruby garden, but at the time we were told the lot was being reserved for a basketball court. nevertheless, as i got closer, i saw a sign advertising the site as an urban agriculture demonstration garden.

spinachi don’t know the whole story behind this garden, but i imagine some of the students we worked with were involved. and i also know that it included some spinach planted with the knowledge that chicago can grow food all year round — one bed had large spinach plants, happily weathering the cold, while another, covered with a sort of hybrid cold frame/low tunnel, sported baby spinach seedlings, each with one happy set of true leaves. it is gratifying to see the ripples of the work i contributed to in this neighborhood.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. gene richeson permalink
    February 7, 2012 10:20 am

    Bravo!….how inspiring…….I’m trying to imagine how much and what could be successfully grown in our much more mild climate central California coastal area….and supplying winter CSA’s as well as keeping the Farmer’s Markets better stocked and relevant in the “off season”…..chef’s delight!……….teach us how!…g

  2. Edie permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:27 pm

    That’s awesome! A whole lot of people would be interested in a class like that, what a great idea. And nice to see it bearing fruit two years later.

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