Little Village Pocket Parks

A Handbook of Community Gardening book review by pocketparks
October 15, 2009, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The book is a basic guidebook to starting a community garden.  It starts by providing a history on Community Gardens and their importance.   It provides examples of historical gardens in Europe and the United States, such as the War Gardens. 

The book continues to Part II, which discusses the basic ways to organizing a community garden.  The book gives guidelines on finding people that are interested, holding meetings, and finding the resources.   The book does not provide extremely detailed accounts or practices adapted by other gardens; rather, the ideas are more generic and not specific to different communities.  However, though much of the content is general, the Boston Urban Gardeners network is mentioned and some of their best practices are provided.  The book continues by explaining the role of the government in the process of starting a garden.

The book then begins to get into the more technical aspects of starting a garden.  It talks about site selection, site acquisition, and site design.  Furthermore, the book delves into more detailed explanations of preparing a site and talks about methods of soil testing, composting, and actual planting.    The book provides specific diagrams and examples of design elements that can be used such as fencing, shading devices, planters, etc.   Some of the schemes are outdated, but the book is good for general knowledge and some of the diagrams are useful. 

The book continues by explaining the process of maintaining a community garden and taking it further to establish food co-ops or a farmers market.  The book also gives guidelines for maintenance throughout the growing season and even gives long-term guidance on land ownership possibilities.

Overall, the book provides great general guidelines and a good overview on the components of a community garden. 

The following pages have particularly useful diagrams worth looking over:

Sun diagram: 49

Soil moisture: 75

Yearly garden calendar: 111

Recycling resources: 165-167

Little Village Arts Fest by pocketparks
October 8, 2009, 9:05 pm
Filed under: EVENTS

This past weekend we had an exhibit at the Villarte gallery in Little Village.  It was a great opportunity to show off the progress from last year and to inform the community about what we hope to accomplish this year.  There was a lot of new interest in the project and we hope to build on the new relationships made at the arts fest.

Thanks to everyone who came out to visit us and learn more about our Pocket Parks project, despite the horrible weather.  We hope to see you again at our work day on Saturday, October 17th at 9AM at Perez Plaza!

Worms Eat My Garbage by migrod
October 8, 2009, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof is a complete and definitive vermicomposting guide. This entertaining manual sticks to solid science and acts as a vermicomposting encyclopedia useful for both veterans looking to maintain their bins and novices who are just learning about feeding kitchen scraps to worms that in turn create nutrient rich planting soil. The coverage, well illustrated, includes an explanation of the biology of worms; instructions on construction, materials, starting up, feeding, maintaining, locating, harvesting, and expanding your worm bin; a breakdown of benefits; and common questions answered. This book is simply the most prehensive worm composting instruction manual, including the seemingly endless internet options.

get this book at the local chicago public library or cheap (under $10) at amazon.

by pocketparks
October 5, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: EVENTS

Chicago Center for Green Technology

Reuse Design in Chicago: ReBuilding Exchange and Projects in the Field

New Projects vs Rehab Projects are 20 to 1.

Differences between DEMOLITION and DECONSTRUCTION.

Delta Institute’s new green initiative: ReBuilding Exchange

The mission of the ReBuilding Exchange is to divert building materials from the waste stream and make them accessible to the public for reuse, protecting community health, creating jobs and saving resources. We do this through the promotion of sustainable deconstruction practices, by making used build materials available for purchase at low costs, by providing educational resources and by creating programming that builds community and rebuilds Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Hampton Avery Architects

Retain, Repair, Rehabilitate, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle, Reject

Case study of Private Garage, Chicago, IL: 2 Car garage with roof top garden, showcase for reclaimed and repurposed materials and component. More images of renderings and construction process can be found here.

Gary Comer Youth Center Visit by pocketparks
October 1, 2009, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Visiting the Gay Comer Youth Center, located on the South side of Chicago, provided an opportunity to witness  a bold approach taken by the Gary Comer Foundation to bring a community together through a sustainable practice of farming and gardening.  The center has a rooftop garden, with numerous beds of flowers, herbs, and vegetables, all grown organically.  The garden is maintained through collaborations with the Center’s afterschool programs, which focus on career development. 

Students have the opportunity to learn about urban agriculture, assist in harvesting of the food, and can also learn how to use the food through the culinary arts program.   The program is a holistic one that attempts at teaching students how food travels to land on our tables.  The program is an eye-opening one for students, and even allows students to partake in internships around the city, where they work in organic restaurants to cook with the food they grow.  They also engage in an activity called “harvest table”, apparently a tradition common in the south.  It sounded basically like a potluck, where each group brings something to the table, but begins the dialogue from the beginning of the harvesting process to the actual cooking of the food.  This way the community shares recipes and ideas. 

The Gary Comer foundation attempts to engage the youth by encouraging activities that promote their culture and heritage.  The Foundation hopes that this will help in getting more community buy-in, in the future.  The Foundation is having trouble getting the community to invest in the garden, mainly because of its location on the rooftop, hence creating a psychological barrier.  However, a new high school is being constructed just across the parking lot from the Community Center, which will provide opportunities for a ground-level community garden and open spaces.  The high school will also be using the Community Center and will integrate urban agriculture into their school curriculum.  In addition, the Community Center will try to start walking tours around the neighborhood, where residents can walk to people’s private home gardens and serve as consultants for one another.  The hope is that if residents are proud of their own property, the pride can then be continued onto the rest of the neighborhood, at large.  The cohesive approach by the Gary Comer Foundation includes many more facets; the ultimately goal, however, is to enhance the community’s quality of life.