In 2016 an incredible opportunity presented itself to preserve and expand this valuable community resource. In 2017, the BCO with NeighborSpace and Alderman Patrick O’Connor, successfully collaborated on the purchase of the land with funding from the Dreihus Foundation, the City of Chicago, and a fundraising campaign by the BCO.
Read more and become involved in the 2017 Gateway Preservation and Expansion effort here.
This garden is situated at N Ravenswood Avenue and W Balmoral Avenue on the west side of the Metra tracks. Neighbor stewardship of this space has a long history dating back to when this strip of land was used for ‘flydumping’ along the Metra tracks well before 2005. Neighbors came together to pursue clean up of the property and were successful in making that happen.
Over time community gardening began in this area as a parkway beautification effort in the space along Balmoral Avenue and under the Metra tracks. The parkway effort continued for some years, until an opportunity to expand our efforts arose through the keen eyes of neighbors and active collaboration between the BCO and the City of Chicago.
Some city activity on the vacant land along Ravenswood helped neighbors confirm that a portion of the vacant strip of land was city public way, and the City of Chicago supported neighbor interests to pursue vegetable gardening in that space. In 2008, neighbors designed a space for urban vegetable gardening that respected the property lines of the space and in 2009 NeighborSpace expanded their partnership with the BCO to enable insurance and support to install and start to create an urban vegetable garden. Our veggie gardening community began to blossom.
Follow some of the history of the space since that time in the images and captions below. Through many types of construction and destruction over the ensuing years, Bowmanville neighbor stewardship of this space has continued and thrived. We’ve been delighted as water was installed in 2013 after 4 seasons of attaching hoses to two remote fire hydrants to water veggie beds. We have persevered and recovered from Metra construction, sidewalk replacement, and temporary removal and later restoration of some of the vegetable beds. Interest and support for the garden has remained high throughout.
As of the 2017 season, more than 40 families garden the plots in the Gateway Garden and the open space is enjoyed by residents of the four adjacent communities including Bowmanville, West Andersonville, West Edgewater and South Andersonville. Nearby Rogers Park Montessori school also uses the space as a resource for its food gardening program. The space is used for respite, connection, gardening, leisure, exercise, education and more.
First Garden Workday on March 27, 2010
*January -February 2010*
Gateway Garden Vegetable Plots Available for 2010!
The Gateway Garden Vegetable Plots, at 1801 W. Balmoral, are available to gardeners interested in growing vegetables and edible plants in the 2010 growing season! Requests will be received via firstname.lastname@example.org, beginning January 1, 2010 through February 13, 2010. Gardeners must be members of the BCO ($12) to be eligible to receive a plot rental. The cost of renting the plot has remained the same low price of $10! Gardeners are also required to contribute a minimum of ten volunteer hours each season to the BCO community garden of their choice. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by March 1, 2010.
The raised beds are 10’ x 10’, and 8” deep. Because gardeners were willing to share plots, the 18 available beds provided food to over 30 families and individuals
*September – October 2009*
September and October are very busy with preparation for the Greencorp installation work day. The Great Perennial Divide was on Sept 26th and the gardens received many new plants. Gardeners have been clearing the area where the new PERGOLA will be constructed on October 3rd. Saturday October 3 will be an important day to remember. So if you can help, please come out and join your neighbors on Oct 3rd and be a part of the transformation of the Gateway Garden.
On October 17 the Gateway Garden will be the site of the Community Fall Festival and Pumpkin Patch, sponsored by the BCO and Rogers Park Montessori School.
*July – August 2009*
The Garden Committee held a meeting at Tempel Steel’s training room on August 5th at 7:30 PM to review the continuing plans to develop the Gateway garden. Plans for landscaping the common area and paths were discussed. Look for an update in the Fall issue of the BEE coming out in September 2009.
On July 11 the Gateway Garden hosted one of the Garden Walk Welcome table locations.
The Bowmanville Garden Walk featured the Gateway Garden this year by holding a Master Gardener education program at 9:45 AM.
Pierre Poinsett and Bobbie Seltzer presented an education session about worm composting, soil preparation, irrigation and gardening in small spaces. They then visited with the gardeners and reviewed the 18 new vegetable plots.
Gateway Garden Vegetable Plots Completed!
The 18 new community vegetable plots have all been installed and assigned to residents of the area. Betty Redmond and the Gardening Committee have been working tirelessly to keep the project moving forward. There were so many applicants that wanted plots that many have decided to share a plot and this has allowed 28 individuals and a group from Rogers Park Montessori school to garden this summer.
Donations for the raised bed timbers, and some of the soil were acquired from local businesses. A garden grant was awarded through Alderman O’Connor and the Edgewater Community Council and provided the majority of the new soil needed for the plots.
Robert Swislow, Craig Hanenburg, David Johnston and Ray Wolke work on new garden plots. (Photo by Oscar Anderson)
***Gateway Garden Expansion Begins!
Saturday April 25, 2009
9:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Join your neighbors and other Bowmanville gardeners as we begin to lay out plans for the Gateway Garden Expansion Project (Balmoral and Ravenswood). As noted in the Holiday Bee, the BCO has obtained support from the City of Chicago, Alderman Patrick O’Connor, and NeighborSpace, to expand its existing garden, to the property south along Ravenswood Avenue, in the public right-of-way. Maps and garden plans will be available for viewing on garden work days.
Our first garden work day on April 25th will also serve as a spring cleanup day. The expanded garden will include indigenous plants, and space for neighborhood gatherings. The 10’x 10’individual plots will be assigned to gardeners on a first come first serve basis. These plots can be used for vegetable and kitchen gardens. This is a perfect opportunity for apartment dwellers, and container gardeners to spread out and plant more produce, and save money on their grocery bills!
Grants have been written to obtain funding from the City Of Chicago’s, Department of Environment, Greencorp and from GreenNet programs. We expect to hear soon about what kind of funding will be available to us for 2009. Once determined, the Gateway Garden committee members will plan an installation date, and any future fund raising that may be necessary. We look forward to strong community support of this project. If you’d like to reserve an individual plot, volunteer for the community garden, or make a contribution, of plants, materials, or cash, to the Gateway Garden Expansion Project, please contact Betty Redmond and David Johnston.