As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, community gardens and urban farms are often the most revitalizing reuse of vacant property in cities.
The revitalizing effect comes from the vast array of ancillary health, beauty, social, resilience, quality of life, and environmental benefits.
Chicago, Illinois is a city that understands this better than most.
On June 21, 2023, local leaders announced that a trio of new community gardens will be created on the Northwest, West and Far South portions of the city, via $3 million in new funding approved by City Council:
First Nations Garden
4553-69 N. Pulaski Road, Albany Park
The $1.1 million, .45-acre project will celebrate indigenous cultures through art, ornamental fencing, firepits, pathways, growing beds, hoop houses, and other structures.
City funding will include $350,000 in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) assistance, $94,000 in Open Space Impact Fees (OSIF), and a $500,000 Chicago Recovery Plan (CRP) grant.
The garden site will also be sold to the NeighborSpace land trust for $5, with garden management to be provided by the Chi-Nations Youth Council.
3024-40 W. Fifth Avae., East Garfield Park
The $333,000, .42-acre orchard project will feature an entry arbor with a mix of fruit producing trees and a rain garden.
City funding will include a $160,000 CRP grant and $111,000 in OSIF.
The garden site will also be sold to the NeighborSpace land trust for $8, with garden management to be provided by the Garfield Park Community Council.
Calumet Gateway Garden
3302-26 E. 92nd St., South Chicago
The $1.4 million, .64-acre project will include a natural playscape for the El Valor Children & Family Center with a grow area, bioswale, and native plantings.
City funding will include a $500,000 CRP grant and $75,000 in OSIF. The garden site will also be sold to the NeighborSpace land trust for $10, with garden management to be provided by Claretian Associates.
CRP grants are issued for projects that promote an equitable economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
OSIF uses funds paid by new residential development projects to improve and expand public open spaces within the City’s 77 community areas. TIF allocates property tax growth within designated districts for public and private improvement projects.
Photos courtesy of NeighborSpace.