Woodlawn Residents Hold Petition To Keep Community Gardens Open

Mike Krauser
March 28, 2018 - 11:08 am

Photo courtesy of 65th and Woodlawn Community Garden and Kumunda Garden

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Some South Side residents who have been running two community gardens in the Woodlawn neighborhood for more than a decade are perplexed about why the church that owns the property is kicking them out.  

There are about 120 plots at the 65th and Woodlawn Community Garden and the Kumunda Garden just around the corner, on Kimbark Avenue. 

Elizabeth Gardner, a leader of the community gardens, said they mean a lot to the community. 

“It’s more than a piece of land where people are just kind of doing a little hobby," she said.

She said the gardens are educational, teaching kids, in some cases, what food looks like and tastes like when it comes out of the ground.  She said they’ve cleaned up the neighborhood and led to less crime and they’ve created a sense of community, where neighbors get to know one another and connect “in a very organic way.” 

Gardner said one woman plants tulips around her vegetable garden as a memorial to a lost parent. She called the gardens “healing.” 

She said they provide fresh produce to neighbors and the food pantry of the church that owns the land.  

Photo courtesy of 65th and Woodlawn Community Garden and Kumunda Garden

First Presbyterian recently informed Gardner, via email, the community gardens are no more, without explanation, she said. 

Jeffery Phillips gardens a plot at 65th and Woodlawn.  He was nodding when Gardner spoke of gardens and community. 

“The garden has given all of us an opportunity to look away from our PDA’s and put our phones down and to look into the eyes and the faces of our neighbors," Phillips said. 

He said that’s good for the entire community.   

WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser

Residents have started a petition drive on Change.org called Stand for Food Justice, Save Woodlawn’s Gardens.   

We've asked the church for comment and have yet to hear back.  

Gardner said she doesn't want to have a confrontation or a protest.  She said she just prays they can come to some kind of agreement to keep the gardens running.