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Evolving stories About Growing Food in a Big City

Woodlawn garden wins Chicago landscape award

Cassandra West

Chicago community garden in Woodlawn 2009 By Susan Richardson

The 65th Street and Woodlawn Community Garden recently won first prize in Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Landscape Awards in the vegetable garden category, competing against 13 other gardens. The Cook County Sheriff's Office, which runs a vegetable garden at the County Jail, and the Fulton Street Flower and Vegetable Garden took second and third prizes, respectively.

The citywide competition is in its 54th year; there were 177 entries across multiple categories in this year's contest.

"[The annual awards program] is the city’s way of acknowledging the individuals, businesses, community groups, schools and other public institutions who contribute their time and energy to make our city the greenest in the nation,” Mayor Daley said in a news release.

The awards include eight categories: commercial landscapes, container gardens, living green roofs and walls, multi-unit residential high rises, native landscapes, public institutions, specialized gardens and vegetable gardens. Awards are also given based on sections of the city in four categories -- community landscapes, multiunit residential, schools and single-family residential.

Judges visited gardens and ranked them based on criteria including how well they were planned and maintained, use of best environmental practices such as recycling, composting and harvesting rainwater, creativity and community engagement.

The Woodlawn garden, which has about 116 raised beds, began eight years ago on land owned by First Presbyterian Church. Some of the vegetables grown in the garden are donated to the church’s food program.

The awards will be presented at an invitation-only ceremony on November 6.

For more information on the awards, visit Greencorps Chicago, Department of the Environment.

(Seeding Chicago's Susan Richardson participates in the 65th and Woodlawn Community Garden.)