Little Village Pocket Parks

Christmas in Little Village by pocketparks
January 11, 2010, 1:09 pm
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From December 24, 2009

Collection of images and thoughts while distributing posters in Little Village. The focus was primarily on businesses surrounding a vacant lot on 26th & St. Louis (abuts the alley where our 26th & trumbull site is). People responded positively to the posters wishing Little Village a Happy New Year with an image of the tree placed in a vacant lot (refer to Decemeber 23rd post). I’m hoping people see the poster we put up inside the Church tomorrow and on Sunday (Christmas Day). These efforts were made in order to draw curiosity into the space and also interact with local residents and businesses. There were a lot of people out despite the rainy and cold weather. Oh yes, we also enjoyed the freshly cooked tamales from a local vendor. YUM

poster placed on a vacant lot FOR SALE sign

Church across the street from vacant lot

Fruit Juice Shop

crowded barber shop

vacant lot poster advertised under FOR RENT sign

local tamale vendor directly across from vacant lot


by pocketparks
December 23, 2009, 12:54 am
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Class on 11/30/09 by pocketparks
November 30, 2009, 10:10 pm
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The group met at Archeworks.  We reviewed what had been done in the past week, which included going over our list of questions related to vacant land.  On this note, we broke up into small groups according to our goals; research, marketing, and the 3D object (with some cross-over between groups).  Some of the research will need to address how residents can change vacant land, such as finding out if there are people in the neighborhood with construction skills.  The marketing group brought in research related to selling ideas by identifying a problem while also offering a solution.  The 3D component will be a caterpillar.  We are still interested in finding ways to create interest in the lots, and tonight we asked three members of the urban agriculture group if they would be interested in hosting a dinner on one of our sites.  This would advance the goals of both groups.

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

Worms Eat My Garbage by migrod
October 8, 2009, 2:01 pm
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“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.

Gary Comer Youth Center Visit by pocketparks
October 1, 2009, 5:28 pm
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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.

MetaboliCity by migrod
September 30, 2009, 9:18 am
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“A vision of a city that metabolizes its resources and waste to supply its inhabitants with all the nourishment they need and more.”

for more information, visit: