preSERVE Garden

Contact Information: Reach out to a garden leader at
Address: 3546 W 12th Pl
Neighborhood/Community Area: North Lawndale
Garden Established: 2009
Protected by NeighborSpace: 2010
Social Media/Website: 
Website: Slow Food ChicagoNorth Lawndale Greening Committee
Community Partners: Slow Food Chicago, North Lawndale Greening CommitteeChicago Honey Co-Op 
Garden Workdays: First and third Saturdays of each month April thru October

About the Garden: (from North Lawndale Greening Committee)

The preSERVE garden is a partnership between Slow Food Chicago, the North Lawndale Greening Committee, the Chicago Honey Co-Op, and NeighborSpace. In 2009, Slow Food Chicago had a a desire to get more deeply involved in community gardening at a neighborhood level. North Lawndale was a natural fit because of Slow Food Chicago’s strong relationship with the Honey Co-Op and the Greening Committee, and past partnership on events like the Sweet Summer Solstice Potluck and Chicago TomatoFest.

The preSERVE garden was created in 2010 (on the African Heritage Garden’s fifth lot) with the partners’ vision of promoting a better life and healthier eating in North Lawndale. Four organizations joined together and took action to design a sustainable business model that yields a return for the North Lawndale neighborhood by converting vacant spaces into gardens, providing food education, creating value added branded products, and providing youth education.

During its first months of establishment, Slow Food Chicago, the Chicago Honey Coop, the North Lawndale Greening Committee, NeighborSpace and many other volunteers prepared this lot for planting Black eyed peas, Crowder peas, and Sweet Potatoes. We moved compost and woodchips to make raised bed rows. Then we planted the peas and sweet potato slips.

Since its creation, the preSERVE garden has continued to expand. We raised funds to build a custom wooden fence to signify the garden’s permanence and add to its beauty. We were awarded a $1,500 grant from Nature Hills Nursery for fruit trees and bushes. We’ve built a compost bin and will shortly be building a tool shed. With the help of over 70 volunteers and supporters, we expanded our crops to include not only five varieties of sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, and crowder peas, but also six types of salad greens and a variety of heirloom tomatoes. Our partners

NeighborSpace and Green Corps installed a wooden kiosk in the garden with signs, photos, and space for sign-up sheets, so that neighborhood volunteers can get more involved with workdays. In 2013, we harvested more than 430 pounds from the preSERVE Garden, including 31 different crops! Not bad for a city lot. Many of the varieties grown in the preSERVE Garden are from Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, an international catalog of endangered and rare foods as well as foods grown from the African American Heritage Collection.