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Garden Builds Community In Englewood

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Englewood Garden

This garden is bringing a community together in Englewood. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Gardening isn’t only about what you plant. It’s also about friendship and dedication to your neighborhood.

CBS 2’s Derrick Young recently visited a garden in the Englewood neighborhood, where both friendship and dedication are plentiful.

All too often, when people see Englewood, they see crime, despair, and boarded-up houses. But there are also numerous gardens that are created and cared for by people in the community.

At the garden at 5643 S. Hermitage Ave., Jannodaca Walker and her fellow gardeners are growing more than the Italian green beans and tomatoes that are flourishing now. They’re actually creating community.

Young was born in Englewood, and he loves seeing what’s happening at the gardens. People used to sell drugs on the very corner where the garden is now growing.

“This garden has really been a blessing to this community,” said gardener Cordia Pugh. “When we came here in April, on the start of this, this was actually a jungle.”

Pugh organized her neighbors, who were looking for a place to garden.

“We’ve come in to clean this garden space, level it, and then the vision kind of came together to start these raised beds,” Pugh said.

The goodwill goes beyond the garden. An elderly widow owns the old frame house next door.

“What we had decided to do among our group was take up a collection to get paint, and we’ve also contacted one of the city organizations to get windows and get a new roof,” Pugh said. “She’s not participating in the garden this season, but she will be blessed by vegetables.”

Meanwhile, the gardeners have been blessed by Openlands, a conservation group that funds the project, because it believes in Englewood.

“Englewood is such a gorgeous neighborhood. People don’t always realize that,” said Glenda Daniel of Openlands. “There are huge trees all over the neighborhood. There are lot of gardeners.”

Jannodaca says she’s in it for the long haul.

“It feels good to know I planted this. You can tell everyone it feels good,” she said.

The gardeners also gave a planting bed to a man who is looking for a job, and also pulled together to buy him a bus pass to get to interviews.

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