We are developing a community garden on a vacant lot in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood. The garden will provide recreational space, neighborhood beautification, and nutritious food to an underserved neighborhood recognized as one of the city's most severe food deserts. We will also use the garden to provide work experience and training, as well as nutritional education.
Volunteers in the garden will be trained to cultivate, harvest, and market the produce it yields. In addition, we are developing a series of educational workshops, entitled "Mom, Pop, and the Vegetable Shop," which will provide over 115,000 community members with the opportunity to grow a garden of vegetables and flowers, plan a kids' garden, taste-test different fruits and vegetables, join in weekly exercise sessions, and attend nutritional workshops. Educational workshops will feature information about healthy shopping on a budget, family fitness, and the importance of primary care and preventative medicine.
Our goal is to partner with four neighborhood schools in order to reach seventy-five children and their families each year. We plan to assess the effectiveness of the initiative via surveys and pre/post testing, and we anticipate that individuals and families who take advantage of the garden and participate in the workshops will benefit via improved eating choices, increased activity levels, improved knowledge of health and nutrition, and overall improved physical health and satisfaction with their community.
We have planned the garden with sustainability in mind, working closely with community residents; churches and other community-based organizations; and businesses to ensure that the community has an active voice in the design, and that the garden will have a consistent base of volunteers from the community. We hope that the garden will provide a permanent source of nutrition, health education, and safe recreation in a community where these resources are currently sparse.