There’s nothing quite like eating a just-picked tomato or cucumber that was grown in your own backyard. But if you don’t exactly have the space (or the sunlight) for a successful garden in your own yard or deck, don’t worry, as you can still dig in and grow your own produce and flowers by renting a plot of land through a community garden in Chicago and the suburbs. To get started, register for a plot and start making plans for use of a garden plot. If it’s too late to join some of the community gardens for this year, you can always keep them on your radar and join next year.
65th And Woodlawn Community Garden
6500 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
Located in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood, the 65th and Woodlawn Community Garden has 122 plots measuring 10 feet by 10 feet for gardeners to dig in and grow produce this year. Gardeners can take the bounty of their own harvest home with them or share it with members of the community. Gardeners are also asked to volunteer their time to care for the overall maintenance of the garden. In addition, the community garden has one garden bed that can be harvested by people in the neighborhood who do not have plots in the community garden, with kale, broccoli and other vegetables growing. The organization’s second location is the Kumunda Community Garden (6435 S. Kimbark Ave., Chicago), which has 49 plots.
Chicago Park District
When you think of the Chicago Park District, you likely think of playgrounds and walking trails. However, the organization also has community gardens that can be found in parks throughout the city. The park system boasts an assortment of community gardens with ornamental and edible plants taking root, with some plants also growing plants native to the area. Community gardens can be found in parks that include Arcade (11132 S. St. Lawrence Ave.) and Eugene (5100 N. Ridgeway Ave.), with a full list of community gardens on the park district’s website.
The Gateway Garden
1801 W. Balmoral Ave.
Chicago, IL 60640
This summer, load up the car with your gardening tools and consider putting your green thumbs to work by renting a plot at the Gateway Garden. The garden, which is managed by the Bowmanville Community Organization, has plots measuring 5 feet by 10 feet, and gardeners must abide by the community’s rules. If you plan to garden here, keep in mind you may grow vegetables and edible plants. The Bowmanville Community Organization also has the Bowmanville Garden (5412 N. Bowmanville), where plots are 4 feet by 6 feet or 4 feet by 8 feet.
McKinley Park Community Garden
1900 W. Pershing Road
Chicago, IL 60609
Add “organic gardening” to your bucket list when you sign up for a plot through the McKinley Park Community Garden. The garden is organic, and gardeners can grow plants in raised beds measuring 4 feet by 8 feet. There is a lot more to gardening than simply planting a few seeds and waiting for plants to grow, so on that end, the garden’s organizers have also planned workshops to help gardeners expand their skills. Community members can also lend a hand to the organization through the donation of tools, time and monetary gifts; additional ways to help can be found on the organization’s website.
St. John Lutheran Church
305 Circle Ave.
Forest Park, IL 60130
If you live or work near the Chicago suburb of Forest Park, consider planting vegetables for this year at St. John Lutheran Church’s community garden. The community garden is open to gardeners of all skill levels, and the organization has a water hookup, so gardeners can keep their plants nourished. With the garden’s raised garden bed (measuring 4 feet by 8 feet), green thumbs can grow and then harvest an assortment of produce all summer and into fall. Gardeners with the happy problem of too much produce from their plots can donate the bounty of their harvest to the Forest Park Food Pantry.
Megan Horst-Hatch is a runner, reader, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She is also the president of Megan Writes, LLC. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.