Join Us for 30 Days of Doing!...

The weather may be getting chilly, but we’re warming up for 2017 programs and scholarships! Join us October 15 to November 15 for team-building, volunteering and community engagement as we work towards our mission to recruit, educate and inspire everyone to grow and cook their own food! There are plenty of opportunities to get involved: volunteer in the garden, sign up for a cooking class, join us for a drink at an Inspiration Eve, and much more. Click the event name below for more details. We’ll be adding more info as it solidifies, so stay tuned! If you can’t attend an event, you can still be part of the 30 Days of Doing by donating to the online campaign HERE.   Garden with us! Saturday, October 15 Grewbie 102 Class Saturday, October 22 All Garden Work Day Glorious Garlic in the Garden Class Saturday, October 29 “Mulch Magic” Garden Class Tuesday, November 8-Thursday, November 10 Garden Gleaning Sunday, November 13-Monday, November 14 Garden Gleaning   Cook with us! Sunday, October 16 Sundays with Seniors Cooking Class (all ages welcome) Tuesday, October 18 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Thursday, October 20 Canning 101: We Can Pickle That Friday, October 21 Fresh Fridays: Cancer-Fighting Foods Tuesday, October 25 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Thursday, October 27 Herbs 101 Cooking Class Tuesday, November 1 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Friday, November 4 Fresh Fridays: Brain Foods Saturday, November 5 Fermentation 101: Homemade Vinegar Sunday, November 6 Sundays with Seniors Cooking Class Tuesday, November 8 Cooking Demonstration, 5-6:30 pm Whole Foods Edgewater 6009 North Broadway, Chicago, IL 60660 Tuesday, November 15 Baking 101: Quick Breads   Eat and Drink...

Just Getting Started

April is the time to ready for the new growing season here in the frozen north (ish). Gardeners, the original optimists, assume every year that it’s going to be warm and sunny, with just the right amount of rain, and never on the weekends, so you can get outside and work. The reality of course, is, well, reality. There are years like 2014, when we had a couple of feet of snow on the ground into May. Or 2011, when we had 25 straight days of gloom and/or rain (I keep a journal). This does not make even the cool-friendliest plants feel very friendly. Gardeners sometimes have blinders on; we see what’s happening in our own space, under our own feet, and in that one little hole in the ground. It’s helpful, in our wealthy and diverse society, to put it in perspective. I may lose my broccoli, but I’ve got a grocery store down the street and four farmers’ markets in walking distance. I may get a month without sun, but a tornado did not knock my town off the map, and a fire did not force me into a car with all my livestock, and my well did not go dry (all things that happened to friends in other parts of the country in the past few years). I grow my own food because I can—I have space, time, and knowledge. I can choose to get as much of that knowledge to others who can use it to make their lives better. You can, too, through Peterson Garden Project and others who are trying to teach everyone how to grow and cook their own food. I’m looking out my back door right now at soil so black it’s almost a religious experience....

Advice for New Gardeners...

As part of her fieldwork among PGP gardeners, Sarah R. Taylor, our research partner from Northwestern University, asked participants with at least 1-2 years’ experience to offer advice to new gardeners just starting out. Here are the top 5 responses, summed up in easy-to-digest bites: 1. Have fun! Whether you’re the meticulous planning type or a spontaneous free spirit, don’t let your first garden plot intimidate you. Achieving maximum production doesn’t have to be your primary goal, especially your first season. 2. Plant what you like to eat. Your favorite veggies will taste wonderful when they come from your own garden, so plant plenty of the things you love to eat and cook. You’ll find the experience deeply rewarding. 3. Experiment. Consider trying something new or unfamiliar. You may find that you actually like certain veggies that you normally associate with bland store-bought varieties, which are often cultivated for qualities other than flavor. 4. Grow from seeds. Growing from seeds is actually much easier than you might think, and it’s cheaper, too! Plants grown indoors may lack the hardiness to survive outside or may suffer from the shock of being transplanted. 5. Prepare to fail, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes we make mistakes; sometimes there are conditions (such as weather, insects) that are simply out of our control. Don’t get discouraged: there are plenty of great resources...

Music in the Gardens

Musician Brian Eno says creating music is like being a gardener: “One is making a kind of music in the way that one might make a garden. One is carefully constructing seeds, or finding seeds, carefully planting them and then letting them have their life. And that life isn’t necessarily exactly what you’d envisaged for them.” Music in the Gardens is a free monthly concert at each of PGP’s larger gardens from June through mid-September. Members and neighbors alike gather to picnic, to enjoy the music and to get their gardening questions answered. As Brian Eno says, with live music or live plants, you don’t always get what you expected. Last July about 30 people were gathered at a Music and Master Gardeners event at the Peterson Garden Project site known as Land on Lincoln. The musician was a local master of Chinese dulcimer. One of the gardeners there for the music was helping the gardeners at one plot when she realized that their squash was infested with a common pest called squash vine borer. Triumphantly carrying the infected plant to the community area of the garden, everyone, including the musician, gathered for an impromptu class in how to get rid of it. Turned out the musician had this bug in his own squash, at his home garden. Music and gardens seem to be a natural fit, from big festivals like Ravinia to a few friends singing on a flower-filled porch. Join Peterson Garden Project on the last Thursday of the month (the details will be posted here about two weeks before each event, or Google “music in gardens” to find events near...

Gardening for Stress Relief...

Have you ever wondered whether gardening can help with everyday stress? Stress is a known risk factor for preventable chronic disease and plagues many of us living in a noisy, hectic urban environment.  During the 2013 gardening season, our research partner from Northwestern University, Sarah R. Taylor, worked with 75 women across 3 PGP gardens to learn more about how gardening affects health and well-being, including stress levels.  Results from her surveys and interviews suggest that community gardeners do experience stress relief over the course of the season, but Sarah also went a step further and collected hair samples. (Yoga In The Garden with Bloom Yoga Studio – another way gardeners were reducing stress in 2013) Why hair?  Believe it or not, hair contains a hormone called cortisol, which is a known biological marker for stress.  When you’re stressed, your body produces more of this hormone to help you get through a difficult day.  If you’re constantly stressed out, however, the hormone begins to have detrimental effects on your body. Gardening may be one way to reduce stress, and thus cortisol levels, over time. By measuring cortisol in hair, Sarah hopes to find biological evidence for the stress-reducing effects of gardening. Sarah recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to send the hair samples she collected to a high-tech lab for analysis. We’re excited to see whether the results from the hair samples are consistent with the results from her surveys and interviews. Stay tuned for more news about this study and other research projects happening right now in PGP...

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