UHC Garden at James Park
UHC’s 10’×20’ garden plot at Evanston’s James Park Community Gardens has been planted with a wide variety of vegetables. The focus is on getting the most food out of the smallest area through the following:
Focus on healthy soil building
An average of 3 tons of soil is lost per acre per year in the U.S. - about 30 times the rate at which soil is naturally created. Tilling, natural compost, organic fertilizers and minerals, and dense planting help create a more stable, richer soil.
Urban land is valuable and making the most of it is essential. UHC’s is one of over 150 plots (see aerial view below) squeezed onto 1.3 acres, about 1/3 of a Chicago city block or parking space for about 200 cars. Planting close together and on the sides and top of mounds maximizes the available area for growing, while allowing enough area to walk and reach plants so they don’t get stepped in during planting or harvesting.
Symbiotic crop combinations
Planting beans and corn interspersed with beets, for example, lets plants work together. This diversity reduces attack by pests, plants can shade each other where needed, and root systems combine to make a more robust mini-ecosystem.
Rather than wait to harvest a lot of one crop at the same time, various types of plants will produce at different rates, making sure there’s always something good to eat.
aerial view of Evanston’s James Park Community Gardens