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U. of C. Turning Beloved Garden into Construction Site

By Anna Deem in News on Oct 25, 2009 9:00PM

Photo by: ChicagoGeek
A two-acre plot of land that plays host to carrots, beets, and turnips during the warmer months is at risk of being turned into a construction site because its original owner, The University of Chicago, wants it back. The university plans to turn the garden into a staging area for their new Chicago Theological Seminary building on the southeast edge of campus, with construction due to start in the spring.

Jack Spicer, 62, a gardener, spoke to the Chicago Sun-Times about the communal vibe of the garden. "This is the kind of thing that people are hungry for in city living," Spicer said, describing the unique community that has flourished with the garden including a weekend farmers' market, a coffee shop that drops off its compost, and countless weddings, memorials, and anniversaries.

"I sit at a computer eight hours a day," said gardener Avi Schwab, 27, to the Sun-Times. "Being able to come out here with a till and some shovels is really satisfying." Nevertheless, university spokeman, Steve Kloehn, said that there's always been a mutual understanding that at some point, the university would need to use the land. The university has even offered to find the gardeners new land, but to Kloehn's knowledge, "no one has responded to that offer."

"All kinds of people come here who would never have otherwise known each other," Spicer said about the gardeners decision to not take the university up on their offer.