Winter has ended. Hooray! Your pasty flesh calls out for sun, soft breezes and exposure. Your nose twitches at the scents of lilac and mint in the air. Your mood rises like the tulips waving over the ground; here it is, spring! This can only mean it will soon be 90 degrees in the shade, and you will want to spend every waking moment lounging with a frosty beverage and some good friends.
Chicagoans spend all winter imagining the things they’ll do when it’s finally warm—and now you’re faced with decisions. Are you going to actually go through with your resolutions? Will you be more active? Will you eat better? Are you ready to—gasp!—meet people out-of-doors?
Yes, you damn well are! You’re going to go out there, dig a hole, grow some food, stick it to the Man and make friends with all your neighbors! You’re going to do all these things, plus be able to sell tickets to the gun show (your newly buff upper arms) by August (or not, I mean, August is pretty close, you might still be flabby. But I know you’ll be sore!). And all by doing one simple thing that’s good for you, good for the world and good for your ‘hood!
You’re joining a community garden. You’re going to wear that farmer shirt unironically. You’re adding “sustenance” to your list of crafts. You are going to get all down in that dirt. You’re about to enter the world of heirloom seed exchanges and food so good, you’ll be amazed how cheap it was.
And boy, Farmer Brown, do you have options. I give you 9 community gardens for you to hone your green thumb and sink your teeth in your delicious spoils.
9 Community Gardens in Logan Square
1) Paseo Prairie Garden (2614 N. Kedzie Ave., just outside the Logan Square Blue Line near Milwaukee Avenue). Right now, it’s a fairytale wonderland of blooming cherry trees. Soon, it will be even more spectacular with native species, cool shady spots, bright color and the best people-watching location in the Square. You want bragging rights? Everyone walks past this one, and everyone is grateful for the welcome—whether they’re coming home at the end of the night, or just beginning the night out. Friend them on Facebook at Paseo Prairie Garden this instant to find out how you can help
2) Corner Farm Chicago (@cornerfarmchgo, two locations: Altgeld and Sawyer, and Kimball and Medill). Now we’re getting into it: the urban farming revolution that makes great eats possible, no matter what’s in your wallet. Composting, rain barrels, square foot gardening, raised beds—every kind of experimental refinement that has raised productivity, lowered the footprint or just eased the workload is on display here. An unexpectedly quiet corner teeming with life. This is your summer vacation even if you can’t get away. Check them out and how you can help.
3) Logan Square Neighbors Garden (2531 N. Sacramento, south of Logan Boulevard). So beautiful, you’ll want to picnic there even if you’ve never pulled a weed in your life. But that’s wrong! You better earn your keep! Befriend them on Facebook.
4) Unity Park (2636 N. Kimball and Schubert Ave.). Oh, this one hits you right in the face on a hot day like a cool, delicious sprinkler. Located just south of the craziest (in my opinion) intersection in the whole ‘hood (where it seems 17 bus lines, the art lofts crew, GAP shoppers and at least three languages suddenly slam into each other at full speed) there is a cool, refreshing spot filled with happy children.
The hotter and more frazzled your day, the more excuses you’ll invent to walk through. Why not spend some more time there? And while Paseo has the most visible location, Unity has the most gratitude-inducing location by far. Test it out: Go spend a day with your several thousand new friends (everyone stops to talk there!) and tell me you didn’t feel sanity return (or don’t. I mean, if sanity is completely gone, maybe I don’t want to know). You know the deal: UnityParkAC Facebook.
5) Friends of Goethe School (2236 N. Rockwell). The little community organization that became a powerful force to be reckoned with also has developed some green thumbs, attracting bees and butterflies with their selection of native and, well, hardy plants right where the students can watch nature in action.
Want to get involved? This is a huge group with disparate interests, ideas and opinions—you can pretty much choose your own adventure, and be welcomed, even if gardening is all you want to do. See what they’ve got cooking on Friends of Goethe School Facebook page.
6) Whipple Community Garden (Whipple and Dickens). Right now they’re teaming up with high school kids to provide produce for a local pantry. Wipe the tears from your eyes, you sap, and find out how you can help them! See more pictures and get more details at their Neighbor Space.
7) Monticello Garden (2227 N. Monticello Ave.). A block club that gives other block clubs feelings of inferiority (I speak from experience. Our block club wants to sit at Monticello Block Club’s lunch table, but we’re too chicken to do more than stare.). Fruit trees, veggies, fun times and movie nights, and all you have to be is a neighbor. If you happen to be one of the lucky people who live near enough to get involved, well then I just pity the fool that isn’t jumping at the chance. Find out how they do it, Monticello Style.
8) Logan Square Firefighter’s Memorial (North Kimball Avenue and West Diversey Avenue). Heart strings. Torn. Dedicated to three firefighters lost in the line of duty in 1985. Unfortunately, there is no web presence detailing more that could find. But if anyone knows who’s in charge and how to help, please let me know!
9) Jardin Paraiso/Paradise Garden (2214 N. Drake Ave./Lyndale). The only thing we know about this spot is that it’s definitely there. Funky, creative, loaded with handmade … things, and utterly under the radar. Know more? Contact me.
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