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Depaul Urban Garden

Posted by Ron Wolford -

If you keep your eyes open while traveling through Chicago, chances are you'll catch a glimpse of growth and leafy greens in an open lot or field. Just off the Red Line Fullerton stop, one of these oases is managed and maintained by college students looking to make an impact. We were able to visit DePaul's Urban Garden on Tuesday night for the Chicago Master Gardener monthly meeting and see some of the enthusiasm that brought this project together.

The garden itself contains 16 raised beds growing snap peas, tomatoes, pumpkins, garlic, beets, and more. Surrounding the beds are research plots for students to test plant hardiness and soil quality. The entire plot of land is surrounded by a high wooden fence, which serves the purpose of hosting a vertical garden for basil plants. The plot also includes a tool shed and a self-watering system, to be completed when the remainder of the funding comes through in July.

We were able to listen to the garden director speak about the objective of the garden; to educate students and the public about environmental stewardship and the reward of growing your own produce. A student worker in the garden highlighted some barriers they face working in the Urban Garden, including not having enough volunteers and the university threatening to revoke their growing space for building purposes. It was rewarding for us to see someone our age with such drive and enthusiasm for this project.

Finally, as with every Master Gardener gathering, there were laughs and food to share. The Master Gardeners were clearly interested in the projects occurring in the DePaul Urban Garden and were concerned with its ever-possible termination. Even through a downpour of rain, attendees stayed and chatted about upcoming activities and opportunities to volunteer in the area. As always, we felt entirely welcomed by the group and even got to share our stories with Master Gardeners who were once in our shoes. Overall, we wish nothing but the best for the continuation of the DePaul Urban Garden and we're glad that the Master Gardeners of Chicago were able to witness the growth of students and produce alike.

Shelby & Ilana


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