Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen helping youth give back to community

Diane Pathieu Image
Tuesday, August 2, 2022
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Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen in Englewood is partnering with the Chicago Park District to help youth give back to the community.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A garden in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood is doing more than just growing vegetables.

It was created as a space where people in the community can plant seeds for peace and personal growth.

Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen is all about healing, and this year's focus is on mental health.

"The energy I think it brings, is positive, and I think people appreciate something beautiful to look at," Mekazin Alexander of Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen said.

And beautiful it is, but it wasn't always.

Five years ago, Alexander bought an empty lot near the corner of 69th Street and Perry Avenue and created a flourishing community garden to feed neighbors from near and far.

"We have kale, three types of kale, we have collards, we have Swiss chard, tomatoes and bush beans," Mekazin said.

But the space does so much more.

"This year we are focusing more on mental health," Mekazin said. "Every year for the past three years we've always had group counseling. But this year we've added some physical movement with that... this is a way for youth to be present, learn about their spiritual selves, physical selves and their mental health is so important right now."

Alexander also teamed up with the Chicago Park District to create a program to help Chicago youth give back to their community by helping in the garden.

Laniah Moon experienced trauma while out in Colorado for school. She came back home to find healing and landed here. She's been coming back ever since.

"Art and gardening comes together, healing happens, and with that, like, I knew that I wanted healing through community and the garden cause I know that I have a green thumb and I like working with the earth and so I came back every year," she said.

The space not only provides food for the community, but holds fun events too, like open mic nights, movie nights and more, making lasting memories and leaving a lasting impression on so many.

To learn more about Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen, visit their pages on Instagram and Facebook.