I am holding a community meeting to present plans for a community garden at the southeast corner of Howard and Ashland (see photo on right courtesy of DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard). The meeting will be held next Tuesday, October 22nd, 7:00 p.m., at the Willye White Park Fieldhouse, 1610 W. Howard (at Ashland).
The Rogers Park Business Alliancehas teamed up with the Peterson Garden Project to develop the plan (see left), which calls for the temporary use of the two-acre site as a community garden, with 130 to 150 raised garden beds. The garden beds and an heirloom pumpkin patch will occupy the southern two-thirds of the property.
The northern third of the property that fronts Howard Street will be reserved for community functions and events, such as outdoor festivals, farmers’ markets and the like. A stage will be constructed for concerts and theatrical performances.
To view details of the proposed site plan, CLICK HERE, or scroll to the bottom of this email:
The Peterson Garden Project is a volunteer organization committed to teaching people how to grow their own food organically. Community residents are invited to become members of the Peterson Garden Project at $75 a year. Scholarships will be available for low income residents. In return for the dues, members will be given the right to garden on one of the raised beds and enroll in classes on organic gardening taught by the Project’s master gardeners. Applications for membership will be accepted beginning in February.
Plans call for the construction of the raised beds in the spring. The beds will be filled with compost trucked in from other sites to avoid any possibility of contamination. Garden supplies will be purchased with funds raised by grants, sponsorships, plant sales, gifts and memberships.
Events will be held at the garden throughout the growing season, including a “Music and Masters” showcase and a potluck dinner, where gardeners will share the food they have grown in the garden. Peterson Garden Project founder and president, LaManda Joy, sums up her philosophy in one phrase: “Community gardens are 10 percent garden and 90 percent community.”
The property is now owned by the City, which will lease it to the Peterson Garden Project for one dollar a year. The use of the property as a community garden and gathering place is intended to be only temporary until the property can be developed for future commercial and/or residential use.
The property was once occupied by the offices and printing plant of Lerner Newspapers. The newspaper chain, which no longer exists, closed the plant in 1989 and moved its offices to the suburbs. The property has lain fallow ever since. The building which housed the printing plant and offices (see photo on left) was demolished in 2006 to make way for a mixed-use condominium, townhome and retail development. However, the development fell victim to the collapse in the real estate market.
The property went into foreclosure and last year I convinced the City to purchase the property from the bank using funds remaining in the Howard Paulina TIF, which expired in December. The contractor for theHoward Street streetscape project recently cleared the land of weeds and placed a chain-link fence around its perimeter in return for the City allowing the contractor to use the property as a staging area during the project’s construction.
At my request, the City plans to issue early next year a Request for Proposals (RFP), inviting potential developers to submit development proposals for the property. If no acceptable proposals are forthcoming, the site will remain a garden until the economy further recovers.
Attend next Tuesday’s meeting to learn more about the Peterson Garden Project and their plans for the Howard/Ashland site.