Corner Stone Deli community garden/ Tom Over reports


Beans, zinnias, Thai chilis, pumpkins, cabbage, basil, sage and flowers are growing in the community garden in the parking lot of the Corner Stone Deli and Café in Clintonville.

“We set these 2 gardens up as an example of what you can do in a truly urban setting.
We’re completely surrounded by traffic, parking, and cement,” said Jean Bird, who coordinates gardens for the Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, aka CRC.

“We have lots of volunteers and children. Children have done quite a bit of our planting--children from the Kid’s Club that the CRC also sponsors.”

Bird said the crops were started as seedlings with help from homeless persons and children, as well as help from Jocelyn Smallwood (red shorts) and Hallie Foster, who are with the AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate Program.

Smallwood said she hasn’t worked in gardens before but is enjoying it.
“The garden programs are pretty cool. They’re all over the place. We have this one and a couple more. They need a lot of care. We have a lot of volunteers who work really hard, but it’s a bit of a challenge to get out to all of them and give them the attention they need.”

She and Foster are helping to fill the gaps in person-power for the gardens. But she encourages people interested in volunteering to contact the resource center.
“We can always use the extra help,” said Smallwood.

Volunteers can use Google groups to coordinate their work on multiple gardens. The resource center has a garden behind the building housing it on Lakeview; a garden at the St. James Church at Calumet and Oakland Park; a garden at Godman Guild; and a potential garden in a currently weedy plot at the dead-end of Midgard.

Foster said the Midgard plot needs a large amount of TLC.
Unlike Smallwood, Foster said she’s enjoyed gardening all of her life. But she said doing it in the community adds something extra, especially during the times when she's harvesting the crops.

“I really like bringing the stuff back to the CRC because…we can distribute it to so many people who don’t normally get fresh produce like this.”

Former Christmas tree-trunks are now a tripod for bean vines.

Inside is a clean, well-lighted place where you can get a large salad for about $6. One thing, among others, that’s interesting is that the owner chooses to have no music playing. I like that when reading or writing there, but others may not.