Woodlawn Gardening – 2014 Review

Some highlights here from our 2014 activities.

Flowerbeds makeover at 64th and Cottage Grove.  Thanks to GROW, Living Room Cafe, and Inspired Community Garden volunteers who made this happen.  Mix of perennials and annuals.  Lyme Grass, Northern Sea Oats, Miscanthus, Amaranthus, Marigolds, Petunias, Coleus.  Most of the annuals were started from seed.  Perennials came from divides.



New Community Garden – Inspired Community Garden.  GROW helped get this garden started this year.

Inspired Community Garden 20140906 small


Spring Starter Plant Sale.  There were a total of eleven orders for the 2014 GROW Plant Sale.  Organically grown vegetable and herb starter plants were grouped ordered and delivered at the 61st Street Farmers Market, 61st & Dorchester.  The vegetable starter plants were provided by Mike and Clare’s Farm.

61st Street Farmers Market – Education Booth.  We answered gardening questions for three Saturdays at Education Booth at the farmers market.

Gardening Workshops – Living Room Cafe. GROW provided gardening workshops, including seed starting demos, at the Living Room Cafe.


Fall 2014 Volunteer and Intern Opportunities

Volunteers needed, from one hour per week to a full-time temporary assignment — whatever fits your schedule.  In Woodlawn, there are fourteen community gardens, many vacant lots, and several initiatives in urban ag and creating a local healthy food system. Volunteer and intern positions are available this fall to participate in GROW (Garden Resources of Woodlawn) projects.  See list below.  For a student internship, we can work with you to structure an assignment that includes challenges, learning and investigation.  For more information, or to sign up, send email toinfo@growwoodlawn.org.

Fund Raising.  Help with Kickstarter and other funding campaigns for Woodlawn community gardens.

Non-profit and For-Profit Startup Assistance.  Basic legal, business, bylaws, business plan, accounting assistance needed for new Woodlawn startups related to new communities gardens, urban ag, and healthy food access.

New Raised Beds, Etc.  Help build new raised beds that will be used to grow vegetables starting in spring 2015.  Help with community garden infrastructure improvement and maintenance.

Four Seasons Gardening.  Some locations have planted for a late fall, early winter harvest of vegetables.  Learn about four seasons gardening.  Help construct low tunnels to protect plants until Dec.  Help with harvest and distribution.  Help complete and repair several existing greenhouses in Woodlawn, so they can be resource for community growers.

Class A Composted Biosolids Pilot.  MWRD (Metropolitan Water Reclamation District) is piloting the use of Class A, exceptional quality, composted biosolids for use in community gardens.  Participate in a research and pilot program in Woodlawn.

Organic Gardening Best Practices.  Probably all the community gardens in Woodlawn are practicing mostly organic gardening techniques.  Learn about current practices.  Help to refine and improve low-cost, easy, sustainable organic practices for Woodlawn growers.

Urban Ag / Healthy Local Food System.  There are many vacant lots in Woodlawn.  Help those seeking to start urban agriculture projects in Woodlawn.  Woodlawn has been identified as part of the a ‘food desert’, with low access to healthy, nutritious fresh produce.  Assist with investigating and implementing a variety of projects to implement a local, healthy, affordable food system in Woodlawn and nearby neighborhoods.

Build Community.  Help new and established community gardens reach out into their neighborhood, involve more residents, and create a space for neighborhood activities and cohesion.

Neighborhood Beautification.  Plan and implement projects to add flowerbeds and outdoor artwork in Woodlawn community gardens, residential blocks and the business streets.

Skills Development / Reentry Programs.  Assist community gardens to partner with skills development and reentry programs such that it is win/win for the community garden and the program participants.

GROW April 12 Meeting – Recap

Here’s a recap of the GROW April 12 meeting.  Nine people attended.

Plant Sale Update.  There were a total of eleven orders for the 2014 GROW Plant Sale.  Plant pick-up is Saturday, May 17, 9am-1pm at the 61st Street Farmers Market, 61st & Dorchester.  The vegetable starter plants are provided by Mike and Clare’s Farm who offer naturally grown vegetables from Harvard, IL.  Their farm is a vendor at the 61st Street Farmers Market.

Update regarding 61st Street Farmers Market – Market School.  Market School is a table reserved each week for information sharing at the farmers market.  An organization or individual can sign up to host one more Saturdays for the Market School.  GROW will be the Market School host on the following Saturdays: June 1, July 5, and Aug. 2.  Times will probably be from 9 am to Noon.  Contact us if you would like to help on one of these dates.  Most any topic relevant to Woodlawn greening, beautification or healthy eating is appropriate.

Announced Cottage Grove Hardware Support.  GROW met with Steve Huff, manager of Cottage Grove Hardware, 6830 S. Cottage Grove.  Cottage Grove Hardware will offer a discount on sales of supplies and material for designated GROW projects.  Contact us if you want to add your Woodlawn project as a GROW project that qualifies for the discount.  Note that this discount applies to in-store items, and also pre-approved on-line items on the Do It Best website.  Ask us about details regarding how to place an order.  Also, Cottage Grove Hardware has a sidewalk sale every Saturday morning through the summer.  GROW will set up a table at their sidewalk sale on some Saturdays, with plant swaps, gardening tips, etc.

GROW to assist DIG (Drexel Ingleside Group) at 62nd and Ingleside, the ‘concrete plaza’.  There are about 30 planters in the plaza.  Many could use a coat of paint.  Most of planters need help with improved plantings.  GROW volunteers will assist with this effort.

Reviewed Project Priorities / Volunteers.  See here for a description of GROW projects.  So far, we haven’t prioritized the project areas.  For now, mostly that will happen based on level of participation.

Two Summer Intern Programs In Woodlawn

There are ten unpaid intern positions available in two Woodlawn summer programs. Most activities will involve growing food, horticulture and landscaping, with some outdoor art projects also possible. Please specify for which of the programs you are applying. Applicants are welcome to apply for one or both programs.

Five Unpaid Intern Positions – Woodlawn ASM Summer Program

Do you have an interest in gardening, growing food, urban ag, community outreach and working with Woodlawn high school-aged youths? Five unpaid intern positions are available this summer for an After School Matters program in the Woodlawn community of Chicago. To qualify you must be age 19 or older, with at least one year of college completed. Experience in gardening/horticulture is a plus, but not required. You will assist the lead instructor, working mostly with small groups of 3-5 youths. This is an opportunity to expand your gardening skills, mentor and lead teens, and participate in a variety of community outreach activities. We will reactivate an unused school garden and green house, launch at least one new vacant lot re-purposing project, and explore other opportunities to build community through Woodlawn greening and beautification projects. The “class” will consist of 15 high-school-aged neighborhood kids. This is a hands-on, mostly outdoors program. These intern positions opened up at the last minute, so we need to fill them ASAP. This program will be run through GROW Woodlawn (http://growwoodlawn.org). Dates: June 16 – Aug 7, Mon – Thurs, 12noon – 4pm. The first week is intern training and team building. Interns can apply for a minimum of a two-week period of service. A commitment for the full eight weeks is preferred. We seek a diverse group of interns to support this Woodlawn youth community. Send resumes to: info@growwoodlawn.org
Five Unpaid Intern Positions – GROW Woodlawn Summer Intern Program

There are fourteen community gardens in Woodlawn, and many vacant lots. The GROW intern summer program involves mostly outdoor activities that will be greening and beautifying Woodlawn. Interns will participate in projects to help maintain and improve existing community gardens, and build new community gardens. Other activities will include at least some of the following: a huge ‘make-over’ for some of Woodlawn’s existing business street planters; assisting block clubs with residential parkway landscaping; exploring creative landscaping and beautification projects for vacant lots; starting a landscaped ‘south entrance’ to the Woodlawn business district at Cottage Grove and 68th; and starting a Woodlawn virtual/distributed plant conservatory. Lots of projects to choose from. Emphasis will be placed on learning experiences, intern team empowerment, and self-selection of projects and implementation approaches. In bad weather, indoor activities will focus on horticulture workshops, and planning/build-out of the GROW organization. To qualify you must be age 19 or older, with at least one year of college completed. Experience in gardening/horticulture is a plus, but not required. This program will be run through GROW Woodlawn (http://www.growwoodlawn.org). Dates: July 1 – Aug 7, 3 days per week (Tues., Wed., Thurs.), 12noon – 4pm. Interns can apply for a minimum of a two-week period of service. A commitment for the full eight weeks is preferred. We seek a diverse group of interns to support these projects in the Woodlawn community. Send resumes to: info@growwoodlawn.org

GROW 2014 Kick-off Event – Recap

22 people at our March event meeting.  We discussed GROW project possibilities and priorities.  We decided it was important to set realistic, achievable, tangible goals for 2014.  See below for photos and  a draft of our projects and goals list for 2014.


Draft – GROW Projects and Projects Goals for 2014

Project Category Description and Goals for 2014
Adult Job Skills & Experience Includes incubating entrepreneurial opportunities.  2014 goals to be determined.
Annual Fall Harvest Celebration Provide a fall harvest celebration event in Oct. 2014.
Business Beautify & Landscape Implement a volunteer program to help maintain existing business street planters.  Add planters at the Bessie Coleman Library.
Community Gardens Network Help locate resources to sustain the existing community gardens (currently fourteen).  At end of year, report on 2014 GROW impact.  Promote community gardener participation in GROW projects.
Gardening Workshops Provide three or more gardening workshops in 2014.
GROW-A-Lot Assist three or more new vacant lot project initiatives in 2014.
Healthy Eating 2014 goals to be determined.  Healthy eating for youths will be integrated with School & Youth projects.
Monthly Meetings Conduct a GROW monthly meeting every month except Dec. in 2014.
Outdoor Art 2014 goals to be determined.
Plant and Seed Swaps Hold one or more spring and fall plant swap event in Woodlawn.
Residential – Beautify & Landscape Assist three or more block clubs in their effort to green and beautify their parkways, etc.
Schools & Youth Support implementation of school and youth programs involving growing food, and Woodlawn greening and beautification.
Locations to be determined.  Possibilities include: Hyde Park Academy, Woodlawn Community School, Emmet Till School, AG High School/Woodlawn partnership.
Share Resources Share volunteer and other resources.  This is what GROW does!  We will keep a list of workdays, locations and projects where we helped to match resources with needs.  Includes implementing a Community Service Volunteer Exchange in 2014.
Shop together, group discounts In 2014, hold a Vegetable Garden Starter Plant Group Buy.  Investigate other opportunities to obtain discounts at local businesses.
Woodlawn Virtual Conservatory This project will  help to provide for a great diversity of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees in Woodlawn.  2014 goals to be determined.
Yard Gardener Network Provide resources to yard gardeners.  Promote yard gardener involvement in GROW monthly meetings, Gardening Workshops and block gardening activities.