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Harvest the preSERVE Garden tomorrow with Slow Food Chicago

By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 7, 2011 3:30PM

Most community gardens (including our own Chicagoist Garden Plot) are surrounded by high fences and padlocked. We were surprised to find, when we visited the Slow Food preSERVE garden, that it had no locks, and is protected only by a low fence.

"We want the garden to look like a permanent part of the community," organizer Jennifer Sandy enthused. Even though that means you can find the occasional piece of garbage hiding under the bean plants, the Slow Food preSERVE garden in North Lawndale is none the worse for its openness. We visited the site a few weeks back to help with a bean harvest, and you can join in the harvest tomorrow!

A joint project of Slow Food Chicago, NeighborSpace, the Chicago Honey Co-Op and the North Lawndale Greening Committee, the preSERVE garden is a perfect example of the amazing potential of community gardens. It's tiny - one single lot on an otherwise unremarkable street corner. It's not groomed and plucked like a vanity garden; beans and sweet potatoes, staples of the local diet that don't require much maintenance, densely cover the ground. Tomatoes, broccoli, basil and other plants are randomly distributed around the garden or hanging off the fence. But the lack of perfection doesn't seem to have hurt it - the amount of food being produced in that single lot is astounding.

Despite our garden enthusiasm, we didn't even know there were five types of sweet potatoes. The preSERVE garden has all of them and they will be harvesting them this very weekend.

Do you want to join in the harvest? You can have all the fun of gardening (pulling veggies out of the ground) without doing any of the work of planting - and that's fine with slow food! They will be harvesting from 10-2, and need volunteers. If you sign up, you can join in and take home a massive haul of potatoes for your home root cellar. If you can't join in, or haven't decided, take a look at the gallery - all taken during an afternoon of picking.

If you haven't gardened before, or haven't been in the dirt in years, now is your chance to get a taste of the craze that's sweeping the city - sustainable, organic gardening in an urban setting. If you want to harvest, email and RSVP. They'll be glad to have you.

The preSERVE garden is located at the corner of 12th Place and Central Park Avenue.