Come Grow With Us!

What is The Peterson Garden Project?

The Peterson Garden Project (PGP) is a federal 501c3 not-for-profit organization based in Chicago, Illinois. For more information:

Our mission:

To recruit, educate and inspire a new generation of home and community gardeners who want to gain control of their food supply, grow their own produce organically, and make urban food gardening the norm—not the exception.

How do you accomplish your goals?

We provide education, support and materials to teach people to grow their own food organically in an urban setting. Part of our activity includes the creation of Pop-up Victory Gardens so urbanites have a place to learn.

What is a Pop-up Victory Garden?

The original Victory Gardens of WW2 were created in all available open space – including private property. When the war was over, these spaces reverted back to their intended use.

A modern Pop-up Victory Garden is a similar concept – unused privately owned urban space is converted to a community-based allotment garden where families and individuals can learn to grow their own food. The gardens all use organic methods and produce food only.

Since we are not in a wartime situation, and most urban open land is highly desirable, a Pop-up Victory garden lasts only as long as the property owner makes it available which can be as little as two years.

To learn more about WW2 Victory Gardens, watch our founder LaManda Joy’s Library of Congress lecture HERE.

Who participates in a Pop-up Victory Garden?

Each Pop-up Victory Garden community is made up of families, neighbors, volunteers, Illinois Extension Master Gardeners, local groups, city organizations, students and others interested in becoming part of a garden community and growing their own food organically.

These gardens are large, lovely places and participants must be willing to do their part to help the garden community succeed. We’re in this together!

Although the garden will be amazing, the community that develops is the real achievement. It takes a lot of people to create a healthy garden and, we can tell you from experience, it is time well spent.

How does it work?

Participants become members of the Project for $75 (additional donations are most welcome!) This includes in-garden education and other classes, a 4×8’ raised bed (32 sq feet of growing area), filled with organic soil, tools and other garden supplies. This is a community action project – there is nobody to pull the weeds or water for you, we all have to do our part. Membership fees don’t cover the cost of building these gardens – we are supported by additional, outside funding. So every dollar, volunteer hour and good idea makes this project grow.

Gardeners are responsible for their own seeds, plants and garden supplies (other than soil, which is provided in the first year of the garden). You can get these at PGP events like Seed Swaps (February 16) and the Mother’s Day Weekend Plant Sale (May 9-11) or at one of many local garden centers.

Education is provided for gardeners who are unfamiliar with food growing using the Square Foot Gardening method which is a nice introduction to small space, urban gardening.

We want everyone to be able to garden so scholarships are available.

When can I garden?

Gardeners and volunteers will build the beds and fill them with soil over the course of 4-6 weeks starting in March or April (depending on weather). Once the garden is built, all gardeners go through a mandatory orientation class (1 hour) that tells them the basics of being a good citizen in the garden. Once all gardeners have been through the orientation, a combination will be provided and gardeners can come and go as they please.

The garden season is from the opening of the garden through November 3. For liability reasons, we do not garden over the winter.

Sharing the Harvest

5% of each garden is set aside for our Grow2Give program. This program is managed by volunteers and grows produce for a local food pantry of the garden’s choosing. In 2013 we donated over 1,000 pounds of food to our nutrition program partners. The community selects the nutrition program to donate to.


Throughout the summer a series of community-planned events will happen in the garden from “plotlucks” to music nights to work parties. We hope your garden becomes the center of your neighborhood and community and, together, you can learn the joy of growing food with others.


The primary gardener in each family will sign a hold harmless waiver that applies to their family, friends and any other guests that enter the garden. In other words, garden at your own risk.


We love pets but not in the garden for, obvious, sanitary reasons.