This morning, eight students from Woodlawn’s Guiding Our Talented Youth Ahead (GOT-YA) program joined Roots&Shoots and O2 For You at the Kenwood Healthcare Center to give peace lilies to the residents in an effort to raise awareness about indoor air quality. Most of us spend 90% of our lives indoors, and for the residents of the Kenwood Healthcare Center that percentage could be even higher. Houseplants like the peace lily improve indoor air quality by removing toxins and giving off healthy oxygen. The Chicago Fresh Air Tour stopped yesterday at Garfield Park Conservatory, as mentioned on the CKP homepage. Today, the elementary and middle-school students gave away some 50 plants to residents of the Healthcare Center. The residents loved seeing the young people, and one of the students said that it was a “beautiful day for community service.” More information on this event, perhaps with some pictures, is forthcoming. A cameraman was in attendance, so we may even see our Woodlawn students make the news!
Yesterday nearly 40 incoming students from the Class of 2013 took a CKP tour from 5710 S. Woodlawn down to the Brickyard Garden on 61st and Woodlawn. The students are part of a special early program for incoming first-years, and are visiting many parts of the University before the school year starts with fall quarter. CKP Director Bart Schultz, interns Cecilia Donnelly and Rachel Belanger, and Master Gardener Dorothy Pytel were all on hand to give brief presentations and answer questions about what the CKP does in the University and its surrounding knowledge communities.
Dr. Schultz led off by reading a quote from CKP founder Danielle Allen, and describing the importance of exploring the neighboring communities around the University. He strongly encouraged the incoming students to explore the city outside of Hyde Park, and to be involved in activities off-campus. Many undergraduate students at the University tend to spend their whole time here without venturing very far south of the Midway, and Dr. Schultz argued that this interferes with a complete education.
Cecilia Donnelly spoke briefly about the wonders of working with the CKP, especially because it is so interdisciplinary, flexible, and such a wonderful opportunity to meet exciting people. Personal Note: Students! Join the Green Team! The CKP Wants YOU for Sustainable Initiatives!
Fourth-year Environmental Studies major Rachel Belanger spoke about Feeding the City, a program taught by Geophysical Sciences assistant professor Pam Martin, assisted by Esther Bowen, a graduate student in the Geophysical Sciences department. Rachel is interning at Growing Home in Englewood. Her internship is supported by the CKP, and she spoke about the unique experience of farming in the city. She followed Dr. Schultz’ point about students experiencing different parts of the city by saying that is has been a challenge to ensure that she is always safe while commuting to and from Growing Home, but it has also expanded her horizons. Growing Home gives job training to people who were formerly inmates and/or homeless. Working with these people, and learning about organic farming, has combined to give Rachel a memorable summer.
Finally, we walked down to the Brickyard Garden and heard Dorothy Pytel’s brief history of the garden, and a description of community gardening in general. The Brickyard Garden has 20-25 member plots, as well as several common spaces where grapes, black raspberries, and lots of flowers grow.
After our introduction to the space, everyone entered the garden and explored. We were impressed by the numbers of green grapes on the vine, tomatoes ripening in individual plots, and a thousand other things. Dorothy offered everyone mint and dill, and some tried the alpine strawberries and black raspberries growing in common areas. A few of the new students went home with armfuls of mint to make tea and chew on plain.
Thank you to the gardeners at the Brickyard Garden for your hospitality, and thank you to the new students who participated in the event! Come back to our Meet the CKP event on September 24, the Thursday of Orientation Week. Look for more information on that forthcoming on the CKP main page and on this blog.
Last Saturday, Dr. Tyrone Hayes, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California at Berkeley, came to lead a seminar titled “Frogs, Lawns, and Food.” The seminar was cosponsored by the Graham School of General Studies at the University of Chicago and the Civic Knowledge Project. Dr. Hayes flew in for the day and gave an extra-long seminar to the 15-20 participants. CPS, the University of Chicago, and Chicago’s wastewater company were all represented, as were our local neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Woodlawn. The seminar detailed Dr. Hayes’ work with frogs, first in Africa, and then in California. His work with gender-differentiated frogs led him to discover that a chemical commonly used as a pesticide in the US was in fact an estrogen mimic, and thus acted as an endocrine-disruptor in frogs. The chemical, atrazine, is not approved for use in Europe, but 80 million tons of it are sprayed on crops across the United States every year. For more information, go to Dr. Hayes’ website.
Frogs, then, are in danger because of the chemicals we spray on our lawns and our food. The same chemicals may well be endangering humans. Despite the somber subject, Dr. Hayes’ seminar was highly informative, important, and entertaining. Look on the Graham School course offerings and on the CKP website for future seminars and continuing education courses.
Before the seminar, Nathaniel McLin interviewed Dr. Hayes for his CKP-sponsored program “Philosophizing Green with Nathaniel McLin.” The interview will soon be available on the CKP’s media page.
The CKP thanks Dr. Hayes and all those who came and participated in the event. We look forward to a fall full of more exciting events! Make sure to look on this blog and the CKP homepage for more information on our upcoming activities.
Thanks to enterprising CKP Director Bart Schultz, we now have disease-resistant apple trees growing in the Timuel D. Black Diversity Garden! The apple trees fit perfectly with 5710’s plan for a fall harvest and a donation to a local soup kitchen. We hope to see some harvest this year, and for many years to come. Didn’t know you could grow apple trees in containers? Neither did we! However, our local apple farmer taught us that if we cut the roots back every winter, the tree will stay a manageable size, and will live happily in the container. Why do we need disease-resistant apple trees? The 5710 garden is organic, and apple trees are notoriously susceptible to disease and insect damage. Since we won’t use harmful pesticides, we chose a hardy variety that can take care of itself, but still tastes good!
Please do stop by 5710 S. Woodlawn and take a look at the garden in progress. All comments, praise, criticism, or suggestions are welcome – leave a comment! And don’t forget to look forward to our grand opening in October!
CKP Director Bart Schultz and enthusiastic students participated in Hyde Park’s 4th of July parade yesterday. A great time was had by all, continuing on with the proud tradition of CKP involvement in the parade.
Head over to the Winning Words blog to see more parade pictures and hear more about what went on. Our alderman, Leslie Hairston, joined us and wore a CKP button. We were happy to see many of our Winning Words students out at the parade, and look forward to starting up the new school year with them. We hope you came out too, and invite you to join us next year!
The Timuel D. Black Diversity Garden took great leaps forward last week! Please take a look at the new pictures and stop by to see the work we’ve done.
As you can see, thanks to generous donations from our sponsors, the garden continues to grow! Feel free to stop by 5710 S. Woodlawn and take a look at the CKP’s Timuel D. Black Diversity Garden.
Take a look at these pictures of our Timuel D. Black Diversity Garden in progress! The garden is being improved almost daily, and these pictures are not the most recent, but they give an idea of how the garden is developing.
On Tuesday the Donoghue School Garden was planted, as announced on this blog, and here are a few pictures of the students’ accomplishments.
Stay tuned for more pictures and news about these two gardens, and let us know if you need help or advice starting an edible garden of your own! Teachers, parents, and students, please do take a look at our Garden Manual for practical and philosophical tips on starting a school garden. If the Donoghue School can do it, so can you! Our Sustainability Partners Network, which can be found at http://civicknowledge.uchicago.edu/sustainability.shtml (at the bottom of the page), includes many people and organizations who can help schools start gardens. Do contact the CKP at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have any questions about how or why to start a school garden. We welcome your questions and comments and look forward to hearing from you!
The CKP is hard at work planning and creating a new edible plant garden at 5710 S. Woodlawn, the University’s Multicultural Center. In partnership with the students at 5710, CKP has dedicated the garden to Timuel Black, one of Hyde Park’s major leaders in the struggle for racial equality.
Along these lines, CKP Director Bart Schultz plans to base the garden along the lines of Timuel Black’s book Bridges of Memory, three volumes of oral histories from Chicago’s South Side. Dr. Black came to visit the garden last week, and emphasized that it should carry a positive theme of hope and optimism. He told us that the bridges of memory should also carry a message of ascent, and that the garden as a whole should tell a story, preferably one that encourages talking to the elders. He encourages everyone to speak to their older relatives and friends in order to gain a true history of their lives. Dr. Black pointed out that while these stories might not be factual, they are undoubtedly true.
The garden has multiple purposes: to promote edible landscaping as beautiful, to honor Timuel Black’s work and legacy, and to give modern students and visitors a sense of Bronzeville in its heyday, when it was three or four times as densely populated as the rest of Chicago. This dense population gave it unique culture and community feeling, which CKP intends to reflect in the garden’s design. Since the garden has these multiple layers, it will take a while to complete. Most of the ground planting and design is now in place, but many sculptural elements lie ahead, which will help the garden to tell a story in accordance with Dr. Black’s wishes.
The students at 5710 look forward to a fall harvest, which they plan to donate to a local soup kitchen. Along those lines, the garden now contains late-ripening varieties of blueberries and tomatoes along with fall crops like kale and sweet potatoes. Planting edible plants gives city residents the opportunity to eat fresh food and, for the children, a chance to see where their food comes from, something not all of them know.
We hope you will stop by 5710 S. Woodlawn to see the garden in progress. Check back for an announcement of the grand opening!
One of the University of Chicago’s charter schools now has a new school garden! Science teacher Jeanne Mills, with help from CKP intern Cecilia Donnelly, has been working hard over the past few months to grow plants, clear grass, and bring in organic compost to the school’s courtyard. Pre-K to fifth graders have grown plants in their science classes and learned about squash, corn, cucumbers, beans, and many other varieties of edible plants. Last week, students and teachers completed the final clearing of the grass in the courtyard. Ms. Mills and a few others turned the soil, then covered the rows with heavy paper and the walkways with plastic in order to kill the weeds. Over the paper they created burms of organic compost and a few hills for the pumpkin patch!
Today, all the students came out to the garden, class by class, and planted different plants in their grade’s bed. They learned to separate plants by their roots and push them deep enough into the ground, but not too deep. Everyone had fun getting their hands (but hopefully not shoes!) a little dirty.
Donoghue’s project lines up perfectly with the CKP’s pushes for No Child Left Inside and No-Lawn Landscaping. School gardens are also a high priority in the Chicago Public School system’s new Environmental Action Plan. To aid CPS in this effort, the CKP created a Garden Manual to make South Side schools leaders in the Environmental Action Plan. The manual is a practical and philosophical guide, which helps schools not only with the actual physical planting of the garden, but also shares advice and thoughts about how the garden can be connected to the humanities side of education. ‘What kind of garden would Socrates want?’ is a question CKP interns asked of their Winning Words groups earlier in the year.
Look for more information on Donoghue’s garden and think about starting your own as the summer continues!