This past September over 100 people gathered in the Pullman neighborhood near Chicago’s South Side for the opening of The Cooperation Operation’s new urban garden. We are thrilled to hear the progress of this green program. The garden site, located in a mainly industrial area, was once a Sherwin Williams plant that burned down in the 90s. The lot’s former toxic past has recently been transformed into an area that the community members are excited about. The Cooperation Organization hopes to grow natural food in the garden while increasing the neighborhood’s access to fresh and free foods.
According to the USDA, a food desert is defined as “urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.” This is an accurate description of the Pullman area and for that reason this project has brought a new concept to an area that has become run down and lacked innovation over the years. As described in their Kickstarter page the Coop Op is “Giving new meaning to the idea of “fast food,” an abandoned lot next to the highway will be the home of a community garden and a field of scraggly weeds will be a sea of beautiful flowers.”
The organization had a very impressive Kickstarter campaign that was able to raise 10,000 dollars towards the project. Click to view their page and watch a video about the process.
Many neighbors and residents close to the garden have joined in the construction efforts and have offered supplies. A current resident tells Shareable “This site has been empty my entire life. I used to come back here as a kid, light fires, and do bad things, said Justin Booz, the building and design chairperson and one of many founding members of the Coop Op.” The garden gives the community free access to its produce. This promotes green space and also healthy eating in this part of town.
Being able to best utilize Chicago’s vacant urban spaces is one of the best ways to continually make our city more beautiful. The Coop Op has created a fruitful territory full of gardens of basil, kale, carrots and cabbage, tomatoes and corn. Another organization in Chicago, Friends of Pullman, has donated boats to be made into beds for these gardens. This has not been an easy process as The Coop Op has been working for 9 months prior to the garden’s recent opening.
You can log on to their site to find out about ways to volunteer at the garden. You can visit the garden at 657 E. 114th Street Chicago, IL 60628 and make sure to watch for more successful projects this organization will take on in the years to come!
“Kickstarter.” Kickstarter. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.
Cicnic, Aaron. “How the Power of Cooperation Transformed a Vacant Lot in South Chicago.” Shareable. N.p., 22 Oct. 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.