The mission of Peterson Garden Project, a nonprofit I founded in 2010, is to teach everyone we meet how to grow their own food. We do that with Pop-up Victory Gardens (short-term gardens on borrowed land) where we teach people this essential skill. We also have a Learning Center where we teach dozens of classes annually (we teach classes in the gardens, too.) And we just wrote a book called Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland – A Month-by-month Growing Guide for Beginners.
We started out with one garden and a vision. Five years on we have grown to 11 gardens (three have been retired – we just pick up the beds and move them to a new empty lot and continue teaching.) Thousands of people have gardened with us and learned to grow their own food. This has impacted how they think about food, buy food, cook food… when I hear the stories of how learning this basic skill has changed peoples’ lives it really touches me.
One way we reach out to a BIG audience is via an exhibit at the annual Chicago Flower and Garden Show. Our first exhibit was in 2013 and explained Chicago’s leading role in the WW2 Victory Garden movement, how our Pop-up Victory Gardens work and how people can garden at home no matter what their budget or skill level.
This year’s exhibit brings our new book to life and demonstrates the seasons of the garden year in Chicago (and all USDA Zone 5/6 areas). The effort it takes to make something like this happen is gargantuan but well worth it as we inspire a new generation of gardeners to grow their own food.
2014 is the year of being Fearless… Fearless about YOU growing your own food and fearless about Peterson Garden Project spreading our mission far and wide. I hope you join us!