Church closes 65th Street Community Garden in Woodlawn

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A popular gardening spot in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood is neglected this season, but not by choice.

Volunteer gardeners are eager to get in, as they have for over a decade. The gardeners hope a meeting Tuesday night will start their growing season. They had hoped to be further along by now.

"This time of year, you would be tilling your soil, making sure there are no left over vegetables, that your ground is prepped for seeding," said community gardener D'onminique Boyd.

But on March 17, the 65th Street Community Garden and a sister garden off Kimbark were closed by the First Presbyterian Church, which owns the properties.

"It's really a place of peace and to see it being underutilized, not used at all, or to see something sterile go in a place that has so much life is really unimaginable," Boyd said.

Brian Wildeman was one of the founding volunteer gardeners. He said the 150 plots and plants grown outside of the fences provided fresh veggies to neighbors and a ton and a half of of fresh grown produce to food pantries, including the pantry at First Presbyterian.

"If we do get opened up, we have a lot to do," Wildeman said.

Some of the gardeners will meet with members of the Presbytery of Chicago for the first time since the gardens were closed.

"We hope that the outcome from that is that we can work out some plan to keep operations going opening back up and let people get in," Wildeman said.

The gardeners said that in addition to the produce they grow and donate, the gardens are places of peace. In an urban environment, they rely on the gardens as a safe places for healing for the entire community.

ABC 7 left messages for the pastor at First Presbyterian and several members of the Presbytery of Chicago. Those calls have not been returned.
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