A Community of Gardeners...

Register Now for 2017 Membership When Peterson Garden Project was born in 2010, I never suspected it would grow into the far-reaching educational organization it is today, including the addition of our Community Cooking School and expanding our mission to encompass a plot-to-plate approach to teach people how to grow AND cook their own food. It’s important to remember that the inspiration for our first garden, and Peterson Garden Project as a whole, was VICTORY; reminding ourselves that we can band together, teach each other and help our communities thrive like the WW2 Victory Garden movement. Some things have changed since 2010 – our political climate for one – but our core mission remains the same. The WW2 Victory Garden model still inspires us to use vacant urban land to teach people how to grow their own food and to learn meaningful skills as we gather for a meal together in the Community Cooking School. Victory is still at the heart of PGP and, in 2017, we have new victories to achieve. First is making sure that our gardens are open and welcoming to everyone – no matter where you’re from, what language you speak, your income level, class, color or creed. It’s worth repeating, unequivocally: our program is and always will be open to everyone. In Start a Community Food Garden: The Essential Handbook, I shared the lessons I learned from PGP about people being the most important part of our—and any successful—community garden program. Community is more important than ever. While our core values remain the same, we’re also adjusting to changing times—and your feedback. First, this year’s revamped orientation program allows more gardeners from each garden to connect face-to-face. We’re also asking that everyone spend at least two to four hours volunteering...

Growing to Give to Care for Real...

Grow2Give is Peterson Garden Project’s program for growing fresh, organic produce for food pantries and nutrition programs. We dedicate at least 5% of the beds at each garden to Grow2Give. Care for Real in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago has been a long-time partner for the program, and Lyle Allen, Care for Real’s executive director, kindly shared his thoughts below. Care for Real, a 501(c)(3) not for profit, has been providing free programs and services to our neighbors in need for more than 45 years. We manage an innovative food distribution that reaches approximately 65,000 annually. Our organization offers a client choice model, essentially operating as a small grocery store, allowing clients to pick and choose the food they bring home to prepare. The majority of our clients are seniors and families with children under the age of 18. We understand the importance of not only filling bellies, but providing better food options to ensure clients are eating better and living healthier lifestyles. Care for Real is so grateful to Peterson Garden Project for their support and dedication to our mission. Their weekly donation drop offs harvested from their Grow2Give gardens make for especially exciting days at our agency, bringing bounties of fresh, locally grown, organic produce to a population that does not have the financial resources to purchase on their own. From the smile of an immigrant discovering a unique vegetable that reminds them of their own homeland, to the look on a child’s face the first time they truly taste a delicious cherry tomato, I give sincere thanks to Peterson Garden Project for bringing joy (and healthier food) into the lives of our clients. —Lyle Allen, Executive Director, Care for...

Simple Pickles

Want to learn to make your own pickles? Sign up for the Oct. 20 class at the Community Cooking School! I grew up hating pickles. I usually encountered them on a burger plate, their juice making my once-crispy fries soggy and pickle-flavored, and their seemingly unnatural bendiness was just…unnatural. For years I, who will eat just about anything and who has rendered pork lard just to make pie crust, would pick pickles off sandwiches and blot pickle juice off my plate. Then, as I began learning how to garden and, out of necessity, how to preserve my garden’s bounty (my freezer space is limited and my neighbors will only let me give them so much zucchini), I discovered a few things that have turned me from an avowed pickle hater to a pickle fiend: *So many* things other than cucumbers make great pickles (maybe not as many as Portlandia would have you believe, but close!). And lots of vegetables that I grew in my garden, such as carrots, cauliflower, and beets, still have great texture after pickling—no bendable cucumbers. Pickles can be flavored using just about any herbs and spices. I didn’t have to stick to pickling blends, and I definitely didn’t have to use dill (turns out dill is the thing I didn’t like in those ubiquitous burger plate pickle spears). Scaling a basic pickle brine up or down to fit the amount of produce on hand is easy. I can make a half-pint of pickles from a few straggler carrots and radishes with nearly the same amount of effort as a few pounds of over-abundant cauliflower. Pickles don’t have to be processed in boiling water and canned. Refrigerator pickles are fantastic and *fast.* A simple (and inexpensive) vinegar brine, a few favorite spices, some fresh vegetables...

Squash those bugs!

Squash bugs are here, and if you haven’t seen the damage the adult’s toxic saliva can do to your squash and zucchini plants yet, you may have noticed their brown jewel-like eggs under the leaves. The best thing to do now to prevent widespread damage is to search for and destroy the eggs daily for the next few weeks. The underside of every leaf should be inspected, which will take about 3-5 minutes per mature plant (they usually go for larger plants, not small seedlings). If you find the eggs, remove them by flicking them off with your fingernail. Don’t worry too much about scraping that small portion of the leaf – your plant can handle it. Once the eggs hatch, you’ll see the five nymphal instar stages the bugs go through before becoming adults. These should be squished as well. Squash bugs are very difficult to kill with most pesticides, and physically removing them is the safest and most effective way to save your plants. No eggs yet? Put a kale leaf or small piece of cardboard on the soil in your garden. Adult squash bugs will seek shelter there during the day, and you’ll be able to easily find and remove them....

A sweet way to use herbs...

Running out of ideas for ways to use your excess herbs? Try making herbal simple syrups! Simply combine 2 parts sugar and 1 part water (example: 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water), and bring just to a boil in a sauce pot. Turn the heat off, and add 2 large handfuls of fresh herbs (just tear the leaves with your hands to release the flavor, no need to chop). Cover the pot and steep for 15-20 min, until the flavor is strong enough for your liking. Pour syrup through a strainer (discarding the herbs) and store in a covered container for up to 6 months in the refrigerator. Use them to flavor iced tea, lemonade, cocktails, or even serve with ice cream or as a glaze for cake! Good herbs for simple syrups: lavender, mint, thyme, basil, lemon verbena, and...

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On Linkedin