Garden Stories

There are as many stories as there are gardens, and we can’t tell them all. But we’ve picked a few that we think you’ll enjoy and maybe learn from.

Barry Family Garden

One of our judges began her report on the Barry Family Garden with “This is my favorite!” And it’s easy to see why. Beautifully planned and maintained, the garden incorporates a great variety of plants, most started from seed and planted with the assistance of grandchildren. Everything is centered on growing organically and well, from the cold frame, composting, and crop rotation to the owl sculptures that humanely discourage birds from nibbling at the produce. The  Rogers Park garden provides enough organic vegetables for three families.

Patrick Barry is a journalist who has recently focused on  food- and farm-related projects including the Chicago Food Plan: A Recipe for Healthy Places, and the Farm Pathways project funded by Food:Land:Opportunity, which seeks to create farm enterprises in the Englewood Urban Agriculture District. In other words, he knows what he’s doing, and his wife Pam knows what’s cooking.

Sembrando Bajo el Sol, supported by Enlace Chicago

With the support of Enlace Chicago and Neighbor Space, community organizing for this garden started in 2008. The actual creation of the garden began in 2012. Over the years, this space has been transformed from a concrete lot into a flourishing garden thanks to the support of community residents, local churches, schools and organizations. The garden adds to green space and natural habitat and produces organic vegetables.

In addition to gardening, community members can participate in classes, crafts and music events. Maria Herrera, the public health coordinator at Enlace, says, “our goal is to ty to have green spaces in La Villita. No garbage, no contaminated areas…to try to make people comfortable. The people that come to the gardens are supportive of one another. We look for alternatives as a group to keep ourselves healthy.”

Breanne Heath and Dave Vondle

From the street below, you might catch sight of the top of the grape arbor, but you need to climb the free-standing ladder to witness rooftop perfection–fruits, vegetables, pollinating plants–all neatly laid out in raised beds and expertly tended. The garden even includes corn, artichokes and melons, all grown from seed without pesticides.

There is a rainwater irrigation system on the 1500 square-foot roof garden in Logan Square. And rooftop chickens. Every summer and fall Breanne and Dave can sauces and soups, make pickles, juices, mustards, jams, hot sauce, ice cream, and butter, and freeze a variety of herbs and vegetables. What isn’t eaten or preserved is donated to local food pantries.