You know that feeling you get when you arrive at the garden and 10 yards of organic leaf compost confront you like a sleepy cow resting on her haunches in the middle of the road, but then you realize that an unprecedented amount of volunteers have shown up to help spread it? No? Well, whatever... it's a great feeling.Because our yield was a little light last year we decided to import some fresh compost to amend our beds before we start planting. No disrespect to our compost bins, they're beautiful, but we just needed a little boost.But before we could spread the compost we had to weed the beds. Luckily, today was our first Chicago Cares volunteer day of the season. Chicago Cares, a group that organizes volunteer projects for curious Chicagoans, lends time and manpower to the garden regularly throughout the season and on days like today we cannot be more thankful.
In addition to the Chicago Cares volunteers, we also had some repeat visitors from Second City and they brought friends! It's rare to see the garden so busy, but thanks to so many hands we made short shrift of the weeding and started turning the cover crop (green manure) into the earth to get all that nitrogenous goodness into our beds.
Each bed got a healthy serving of the new compost and people got to work raking and shoveling.
And, as if we weren't already bowled over by the array of visitors to the garden, we got a special treat. Karen, one of the ORIGINAL Ginkgo founders, dropped by! I'm starting my third season with Ginkgo and I'm constantly amazed by the garden's history. When the garden was started in 1994 the neighborhood was a totally different place and there was nothing on the lot except for a Ginkgo tree and debris. The founders laid the foundations, built the beds, and started something that has grown beyond any expectation. Karen reminisced about what the garden looked like when she was there. Even our longest serving volunteers weren't around to see some of the things she talked about, so it was great to hear. She remembered learning to use a sledge hammer, and when the wrought iron fence was still a chain-link fence. Karen posed under the cherry tree and told us that it was originally from a plant sale at Marshall Fields! Imagining this beautiful unruly centerpiece as a knee-high potted plant in the back of someone's car was a truly profound lesson in the meaning of "grass roots". Stay tuned if you look forward to more of Ginkgo's story!