Growing Community in Chicago


Back in May I wrote a post about the Peterson Garden Project, then in its early planning stages. Modeled on the Victory Gardens of the 1940s, the community garden is located in an empty lot at the southwest corner of Peterson and Campbell in the West Ridge neighborhood on the Far North Side of Chicago, a site that actually was a Victory Garden in the 1940s.


The garden was the brainchild of neighborhood resident LaManda Joy but it was adopted wholeheartedly by the community. They’ve bought and planted a total of 157 plots, making this the largest (unverified) edible garden in Chicago.

To celebrate their achievement, the gardeners held a Fourth of July celebration. Children and animals were invited to dress up as their favorite veggies for a parade. The young hens shown in the top photograph were guests of honor. The boy dressed up as a bushel of potatoes won best costume, but for my money the baby tomato and the baby carrot deserved at the very least a blue ribbon.


This community garden is a project that in more ways than one just won’t stop growing. In her remarks at the event, LaManda Joy announced the group has permission to create a mural for the wall adjacent to the garden and Flashpoint Academy is working on a documentary about the project and community gardening in Chicago. If you’re on Facebook, you can see artist Karl Fresa’s appropriately retro-influenced design for the mural.


Among the community of gardeners is a clergyman, Michael, whose last name I didn’t learn. He re-dedicated the garden with a few thoughts about the meaning of community in our time. He said the garden is a victory of community over the isolation of the individual. He also said pray for rain every third day, pray the tomatoes remain free from blight.

Explore Chicago’s urban farming movement in a tour of community gardens offered by NeighborSpace and the Chicago Park District. The next tour will be July 31.

Related posts: A Garden Grows in Chicago

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3 Responses to Growing Community in Chicago

  1. Jean August 5, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Hope the garden brings much joy (and food?) to the community. Vancouver’s community gardens also started with Victory gardens during wartime.

    Not sure about Chicago scene, but Vancouver exceeded its original goal of 2,010 community gardens to match 2010 Olympic year. Over 2,500 this month. They are coincidentally near some major bike routes which makes for a neat, nice bike tour / ride. The community gardens map also marks out the bike routes which is helpful for anyone locally or visiting.

    Sometimes community gardens are in traffic calming circles/roundabouts which is a great way to showcase the plants to all passing through the neighbourhood.

  2. Frances Archer August 5, 2010 at 7:53 am #

    Thanks Jean, I’m going to put that link on the community garden’s Facebook page.


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