A Gardening Lesson From WW2: Keep It Simple Stupid

My father was in the Occupied Forces of Japan during WW2 and that experience influenced his life profoundly… he had a lot of wartime expressions peppering his conversations (and a few fun songs too, like this). He particularly liked mentioning the KISS Principal (keep it simple stupid) when I tended to complicate things. Of course,

Peterson Garden Project: 10 Exciting Things for 2013

When I run into our gardeners or people who know about the Peterson Garden Project I hear a lot of comments like "what do you do to stay busy during the winter months?" This makes me laugh because...

Starting a community garden… WHO, WHY & WHAT…

Thanks to a recent Chicago Tribune article about our award from the Mondavi Growing Through Giving Campaign a lot of would-be community organizers have germinated (sorry, couldn’t resist the gardening pun). Within the first three days after the article went online I had five emails from Chicagoans who had been eyeballing empty lots and imagining

Chicago Victory Gardens 101

This post first appeared in April of last year. We were just starting plans for The Peterson Garden Project which became the largest edible, organic community garden in Chicago. As much of a novelty as our garden was last year – developing almost overnight on private land – I have heard of numerous other “pop-up”

Chicago Victory Gardens 101

When this post first appeared in April of this year, the garden you see above was a weedy, nasty urban lot. Within six weeks hundreds of neighbors, volunteers and friends had transformed it into the largest community edible garden in Chicago. The post below talks about the amazing achievements of Chicagoans in 1943. The Peterson


I’m very excited! Wednesday at 7pm I’m doing my “Chicago Victory Gardens: Yesterday and Tomorrow” lecture for the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society. When I started lecturing on WW2 Chicago Victory Gardens this spring the “tomorrow” part was a general overview of how to start a community garden a la’ Victory Garden today as they

Teaching New Gardeners… My how things change

The Peterson Garden Project (and my self appointed Block Captain duties) have made me think really hard about how to get all the stuff I know about edible gardening out of my head and "down on paper" for the many novice gardeners growing with us this season.

The Peterson Garden Project

I’ve tried to write this blog post for a week and there’s no real easy way to say why or how The Peterson Garden Project came together other than love. Love of history, love of gardening and love of community. And maybe a potentially lethal dose of curiosity… Last winter I was traveling a lot

Top 10 Trivia: WW2 Chicago Victory Gardens

The year – 1943 – was a banner growing season for Chicago Victory Gardens. As the war was in its second year, Chicagoans rallied community-by-community to do all they could for the effort and to alleviate the shortages caused by the largest international conflict of all time. As transportation resources were diverted to moving troops

Eating History: Vintage Veggies

Researching, writing and talking about the "lost list" got me wondering about what those vegetables grown almost 70 years ago might have tasted like and how they might be different (better? worse? same?) than the varieties we grow today.