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Someone You Should Know: Urban Gardener Lamanda Joy

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Lamanda Joy (CBS)

Lamanda Joy (CBS)

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(CBS) – If you’ve ever dreamed of your own vegetable garden but thought it would be too hard to learn, dream no more. The Peterson Garden Project will teach you how to do it.

CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield says its founder is someone you should know.

Visit 3000 West Lawrence Ave. and you can see a garden and gardeners in action. On the property there are 212 four-by-eight-foot plots, raised above the ground and filled with compost and top soil for growing vegetables.

This is called the Global Garden, one of seven in the project founded by Lamanda Joy.

“Originally, I thought if 20 people wanted to do it it would be fun. I had no idea it would become what it’s become, but clearly there’s a need for people to have a place to learn, and it’s really exciting to be part of it,” she says.

At one time or another, you’ll find 636 gardeners working there, and there are many more at the six other gardens in the project – a total of more than 3,000 participants.

One of them is full-time mom Sally Gregory, whose garden is yielding tomatoes, strawberries, cucumbers and herbs.

“I used to garden with my grandmother many years ago. When I moved to the city 15 years ago, I never thought I would be able to grow my own food. It’s just been amazing,” she says.

All of this is a reminder of the period during World War II when “victory gardens” were all the rage because of a food shortage.  At that time, more than 250,000 people were involved here. Chicago had more victory gardens than any city in the nation.

Lester Palmian, a local businessman, not only maintains his own plot but volunteers to help others with theirs.

“It’s just a wonderful feeling to be in the garden itself. The one thing that I’ve always loved about community gardens is the community aspect of it,” he says.

It’s $75 to become a member, but scholarships are available, and you don’t have to be an expert gardener to participate. For more information about The Peterson Garden Project, click here.

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