It’s happening on the south side of Chicago!
Strawberries, blueberries, black raspberries, plum and cherry tomatoes, peppers, kale, collards, string beans, asparagus, onions, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, concord grapes, sage, oregano, basil, parsley, mint, lemon balm, garlic chives, hyssop and comfrey and many native plants. Whew! All of this is grown at the George Washington Carver Garden at Trinity United Church of Christ on the south side of Chicago.
As the many cars, buses and trucks drive by spewing the toxins into the air and the nearby train crossing accommodates the intermittent freight trains, there is . . . a garden. Delicious fruits and vegetables flourish and the Monarch butterfly finds milkweed and other plants in this garden.
Through the efforts of Paula Anglin, a Master Gardener, and her committed gardeners, the people in and around that south side community breath air that is just a little cleaner and eat vegetables and fruit that traveled from soil to table and taste oh so good. Because of the presence of the vegetation, the toxins that are left behind by the heavy traffic are combated and the air is made cleaner for all to breath.
The George Washington Carver Garden, founded in 2009, continues to be a green haven as its yield contributes to the summer farmers markets, and provides numerous opportunities for environmental education and demonstration. In July 2016, the garden’s harvest averaged 15lbs of food per week. August and September’s harvest averaged 75lbs of food per week.
Not only are they a site and purveyor of good fruit, vegetables and native plants for pollinators, they also are intentional and effective in providing various environmentally related opportunities for persons of all ages and abilities. During the garden season, the nearby day care visits monthly. The Burnside teen ministry assisted with the work of the garden which provided insight and experience as they designed and planted a garden for someone in their neighborhood. The University of Illinois, Master Gardener’s program sends its students to the garden in order to gain service learning hours. The clients and care givers of the Envision adult day care facility come to the garden on Thursday mornings.
As a member of the Migration & Me program, Trinity is regularly represented at our nature outings. Additionally, they have hosted story circles where one of the first African American women to join the Chicago Police Department and an influential Deacons of Trinity encouraged and informed those present as they shared their migration stories.
Who knows what this year holds for the George Washington Carver garden. What we do know is that good and sustainable seeds have been planted and the good work and vision to make a difference is much appreciated. Kudos!
Learn more about the Migration & Me Program, and how your house of worship can get involved.
Written by Rev. Debra Williams, Migration & Me Outreach Coordinator