A Glimpse of almost summer: Urban Gardening
Memorial Day is next week. Summer is just around the corner. The seed catalogs have arrived, seeds ordered and started indoors. The veggies are inside and are almost ready to be planted outdoors. As the weather warms, now is a good time to get the cool weather crops in the ground. The tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and zucchini will soon follow. Be careful and watch for frost.
As I’m driving around the area community gardens are starting to pop up. Unfortunately, the old City Garden on North Ave. is being torn down. I am also receiving invitations to join CSA’s of local organic gardens. A CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, locally owned, usually organically grown family farms selling directly to the consumer. In my opinion this is a great way for folks to eat healthier, help the environment and support local farmers. Excuse me while I go hug a tree.
Grayslake, in Lake County is a hub of activity and support. The College of Lake County has a program (I am currently working on a certificate) in Sustainable Agriculture. It covers all aspects of organic gardening and season extension principles. We are working on producing local organic foods ten months out of the year as opposed to the usual six or seven months. The program is both scientifically based (old-fashioned college classes) with hands-on experience in the greenhouse, hoop houses and outdoor beds.
Also in Grayslake is an incubator program at Prairie Crossing. They help people get started in agriculture to move into a full-time career. It is called the Farm Business Development Center. A friend of ours (Sandbox Organics) who got started in Grayslake is now renting 25 acres in McHenry County.
The Chicago Botanic Garden has a program called the Windy City Harvest. It is an education and jobs-training initiative to help build a local food system, healthier communities, and a greener economy. They offer apprenticeships to local youth in partnership with the City Colleges of Chicago's Daley College/Arturo Velasquez Institute. They have four locations in the area offering hands-on classes in urban agriculture: The Green Youth Farm in Lake County, the North Lawndale Youth Farm, Washington Park (Chicago), and the Urban Garden Lab in Block 37 in Chicago.
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