Growing Station Community Garden
Organic Gardening, Community Development, Compost

The Growing Station Community Garden was organized by five residents in the Pilsen neighborhood in February 2009. The garden was designed as an organic vegetable garden for residents of all ages, and abilities. It is located on city land adjacent to an unused industrial railroad and new affordable housing projects.

The group, lead by Pilsen community members Sallie Gordon and Siobhan Gregory, was able to procure the land through a municipal redevelopment project. They saw the opportunity to use vacant lot space as a positive community space. With the help of NeighborSpace (land acquisition), Openlands (insurance policy), and the Green Corps (resources—compost, seeds, small plants, raised bed building), the Growing Station Community Garden was able to establish itself on the corner of 21st and Sangamon. These three Chicago non-profit organizations (NeighborSpace, Openlands, Green Corps) have been instrumental in the development and sustainability of food space in Chicago.

Growing Station grows mostly vegetables (with the exception of some flowers to attract pollinators) in their 10 raised beds. Community members share beds with other families to promote community development, an open flow of gardening knowledge, and relationship building. Sharing garden beds is an extension of Growing Station’s goal to regularly contribute to the community.

Schrieber Park Community Garden (Ruby Garden)
Community Development, Refugee Health, Youth Education, Building Community Ties


In May of 2009, a group of community members from the Roger’s Park and Edgewater area started the Ruby Garden. New gardening initiatives and incentives from the Chicago Park District (CPD) have helped to raise the number of Park District supported gardens to 90 in Chicago. After going through the CPD online application process ( and building relationships with the Park District and neighbors, community members took half of a grass lot in Schreiber Park, and converted it into a community garden.

In order to find out how the space was being used and gauge the amount of sunlight that showers the plot, they visited the park on a series of different days and different times. This was also a valuable way to talk to community members and see if there would be support for a garden. The Ruby Garden exemplifies the success of building relationships and learning about the space before starting a garden. This process gave the Ruby Garden the best chance of being received in a positive manner by the community.

The Ruby Garden is partly supported by Heifer International and the space is split 50/50 between personal plot holders and non-profit holders.

Chicago Avenue Urban Farm

Youth Development, Job Training, Food Production

Phone: 312-274-3831

Chicago Avenue has been the site for a community garden in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood since 2003, where the Chicago Lights Chicago Avenue Outreach program has been basing its work. The community garden, which was previously a recreation space where individuals gardened personal plots, is now in transition. Due to concerns about the lack of healthy and nutritional food options and an increased awareness about the negative problems associated with food deserts, the focus of the Chicago Avenue Community Garden will shift to food production. In 2010, this site will expand to become an Urban Farm in collaboration with Growing Power, a nonprofit organization empowering communities by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high quality, safe, and affordable food.

Hoop greenhouses will be installed in the winter and extend the growing season to 9-12 months. The Chicago Avenue Urban Farm will provide job training and youth development. Young adults not only will learn about agriculture as they work with food production, but also gain life skills and job readiness. Families will learn about nutrition and have access to affordable, healthy produce. Relationships in the community will continue to be fostered, as people of diverse backgrounds work side by side and enjoy community celebrations together.

Community volunteers at the Chicago Avenue Urban Farm will have access to free and fresh produce, while non-volunteers will have the option of buying the produce at community food stands.
The Chicago Avenue Urban Farm is a project to keep an eye on as they try to use urban agricultural food production to combat the problem of food deserts.

South Chicago Art Center’s Artists’ Garden
Community Development, Education, Community Beautification, Food Production

Phone: 773-731-9287

In the spring of 2003 the South Chicago Art Center created a community garden on four city lots just north of the Center. This garden furthers the Art Center’s mission by promoting friendship, cultural pride and civic engagement in the neighborhood. The garden has been a catalyst for building community participation in civic affairs. Being located in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, the garden has created a safe space for the common good of growing food.

The garden lies on a block that has only one house on it. Many who live in this food desert buy their food at Walgreens, Subway, McDonalds, and street taco stands. Many of the community members want to garden to supplement their diets with healthy vegetables, and some are growing food on their property, however 70 years of steel mills in South Chicago have rendered all the soil in the area unsafe to grow food without serious soil remediation. Over the last summer the garden attracted more than twenty-eight community members, who received plots to grow produce, communicate, and share with neighbors.

The garden has stayed afloat from a series of grants, including a three-year grant from Heifer International for healthy soil. They have also partnered with NeighborSpace who has helped them to keep their garden space.