The Revolution Will Be Locally Grown

Photo: Piush Dahal, Flickr
    Photo: Piush Dahal, Flickr

Spring has sprung in Chicago, and summer is around the corner. What better way to celebrate the seasons and engage your revolutionary spirit than getting involved at one of your local community gardens?

Community gardens and farms are seeing a welcome renaissance across this city.  The movement is gaining momentum, and people all over Chicago are getting out of grocery store produce lines and digging their green thumbs into community gardening projects.

Spread across Chicago’s 50 wards, are over 600 community gardens and counting. And no wonder. Turns out community gardens and farms come with a bunch of nifty benefits.

Community gardens are good for personal health. They offer affordable access to nutrient rich, pesticide free produce. Gardening is also great exercise, and much cheaper than a gym membership! And because of their high visibility, community gardens spread healthy lifestyle awareness, acting as a sort of living billboard for organic and local food initiatives.

Community gardens are good for environmental health as well. At a local level, plants filter polluted air, so community gardens make the city a more breathable place. In the summertime, they also help combat the overheating effects of Chicago’s urban landscape. On a global level, by localizing produce production, community gardens conserve resources and lower carbon emissions.

Local economies benefit from community gardens too. They beautify neighborhoods and studies say, increase property values within their immediate vicinity. Empty lots turned community gardens frequently serve as catalysts for a variety of economic growth in their surrounding areas.

Maintaining green park space in Chicago can be a costly public expenditure. Community gardens, largely volunteer based, offer a low-cost alternative for maintaining essential urban green space. Additionally, community garden composting helps offset the city’s landfill costs.

There is still work to be done concerning more equal distribution of community gardens in Chicago’s low-income versus high-income neighborhoods. Notwithstanding, community gardens are proletarian in the most classical sense. They give those without land the opportunity and means to produce their own food, and in doing so, free people from reliance on the corporate giants of mass food production. What could be more revolutionary?

Visit these websites for lists of community gardens in your area and more information on getting involved:

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