Search

Search My Garden Blog with Google Custom Search

19.9.08

Parking lot Farm

Every once in a while I come across an unusual planting in Chicago and in most of those instances I never have a camera with me to document it. I always get a kick out of the weird places that people will grow a plant- be it edible or ornamental. Last summer I often would pass by a house where the home owner had converted his front stoop into a chili pepper farm of sorts. All ten steps were covered in old buckets growing many varieties of peppers. It was a sight to behold, if not a safety hazard. I never managed to take a picture no matter how many mental notes I made. I've been trying to do better at documenting these "extreme" instances of gardening this year. So far my record is not that great but here's one weird place for veggies that I noticed in Chicago.

parking lot farm, urban gardening urban farming


Someone must really like growing corn as they planted it among the landscaping of a small parking lot on the west side of Chicago. I don't think I'd eat corn that was grown so close to an area where car pollution must be heavily concentrated, but hey, who am I to judge? Talk about urban farming.

22 comments:

  1. I agree on the car pollution. The DH and I were talking recently about the home foreclosures, many of these homes are literally falling down .. we wish the cities would consider turning these lots into green spaces where people could grow their own food. It would be a benefit to apartment dwellers like myself. I have one such house across the street from where I live.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your picture would be excellent promotional material for the Illinois Corn Growers' Association. I can't think of a better way to depict the "green" aspects of ethanol production. I can see the ad now. Picture a photo of a rusty, idle oilfield pumpjack in the middle of a cornfield and then your pic alongside it. It's Illinois' answer to the energy crisis: a cornfield for every vacant lot. Oil is out; corn is in!

    ReplyDelete
  3. @OhioMom: I know what you mean. Someone suggested I buy an empty lot from the city and mentioned the possibility of getting it for something like 1 dollar. You also reminded me that here in Chicago a part of the public parks in some neighborhoods is set aside so people can grow Victory Gardens.

    @walk2write: LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love how it looks. I agree about the pollution aspect. When it comes to stuff grown in public areas like that, the first thought that comes to my mind is exposure to dog pee!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Well, it is an interesting concept anyway! You do have to be concerned about the pollution...I feel the same way about where our fish come from! YIKES!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I like seeing gardens growing in unexpected places too. What a great way to utilize a space that would normally be weeds or overused landscaping shrubs.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's fun! One of the guys who comes into the garden center where I work grows squash vines because he likes the big leaves... he lets them sprawl all over his lawn, picks them up and moves them to mow, then puts them back. I think that's awesome. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Lelo and Julie I'm glad I wasn't the only one who automatically thought about pollution.

    @Perennal Gardener Very true. I'm wondering if I go back and talk to the guy in the security shack if he'll tell me he's the one that planted it.


    @Blackswamp_Girl. Funny you should mention that today I came across a house where some kind of vine was enveloping the front of the house. It is some kind of gourd or melon and it looks pretty cool. The thing is that the homeowner has a HUGE side lot right next to the house that is mostly not planted.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dogs and pollution came to my mind, too, Mr Brown Thumb, but then I remembered planting corn in Illinois just to get the stalks for Halloween decorating - they were ridiculously expensive at the pumpkin farms!

    The drought killed most of the grass in one part of our parkway - maybe it would look better as a corn shuck patch?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    ReplyDelete
  10. I'd like to see more garden plots in unexpected places and how people have 'overcome' the urban landscape.

    ReplyDelete
  11. someone is very optimistic

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a fun picture! My son always wants to grow corn too, and although I probably have the room, I'm not sure corn is a good Arizona crop!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've actually grown corn in a terracotta pot when I was a kid - I planted an unpopped pocorn to see what happened. It grew to about a feet and set some seeds (!) and then died because I forgot to water. Story of my life :)

    One of the swedish gardener associations (FOR Fritidsodlarnas riksorganisation ~ "National association of spare time gardeners") did a test some years ago, they grew sallad on some of the places with most heavy traffic in Stockholm (the biggest city in Sweden), rinsed the leaves and sent them for analysis.

    This was not a big, scientific test, since they didn't have the money for it, but the results is still interesting and may give some insights. When checking the leaves for heavy metals like lead, the content was below the swedish value limits, so in that respect the leaves could be eaten. Leaves from the busiest streets contained PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, chemical compounds where some are carciogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic) which were debated when the test was done and had no limit value set for them. The conclusion was that if you put a safe distance of twenty meters (about twentytwo yards) between the garden and the biggest streets you can grow edible stuff.

    The other hazard in growing stuff in the city is the soil. In earlier times people weren't that squeamish about what they poured on the ground, so it's fairly easy to find leftover kerosene and other chemical 'goodies' when you dig deeper. I would send some soil to a laboratory for analysis before I started any bigger vegetable cultivation. Or set up an container garden for that matter.

    On another note: I've awarded you the Tree of Happiness award. Bask in the glory for a blog post and pass the honours on to six new bloggers :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Doh! I forgot to mention my source "Cityodling" (transl: City Gardening - I don't think there are any english versions of this book though) by Lena Isrealsson, 2004.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey there, Mr GT! Good to see ya! Thanks for stopping by. I agree with Rosemary, "Someone is very optimistic!". I just love gardening surprises in the city. I grew up in the south side of St. Louis. I remember all the little old German women planting amazing plants wherever there was a couple of inches of soil. One of my other memories was scrubbing the front steps with comet ever Saturday morning!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I enjoyed your photographs...very nice..I live in New York and I just started a blog. I'm a newbie..hoping someone will visit...Getting ideas on format etc by visiting great blogs like yours. will visit again.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think that's really inventive, and with the price of everything these days, I bet you'll see lots more of this.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yep, I'd be scared to eat any corn grown next to a parking lot. On the other hand, have you noticed how much corn is growing along interstates? And the few remaining cornfields in the south suburbs are usually growing along some pretty busy streets. That parking lot corn's probably no worse than the stuff they sell at the grocery store and may not be much worse than what's sold at the farm stands around here either.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Interesting...I suppose the pollution issue wouldn't pose any more problems than pesticides though. I've never seen any unexpected gardens here in Arizona--probably because of a lack of access to water. I do know many people scatter wildflower seeds along desert roadways, expecting to see a grand spectacle in spring, but I've seen very few actually come up in those areas.
    Aiyana

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think people just are more adventurous and add bits of the country to their cityscapes. Every once in awhile I see cornstalks or a line of big sunflowers by a busy city street.

    I tagged you in a meme @ilonagarden.blogspot.com- tell me your quirks.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Nifty. I guess it's that or the questionable corn from the store - who knows where it's been or what's be put in and on it. I understand your reservations though.

    ReplyDelete
  22. After planting our garden for the year, we venture out and guerilla garden. There are quite a bit of dilapidated properties and medians in my city.

    Seed bombs are a tool of the trade:
    http://red-icculus.com/?p=139

    ReplyDelete

Hi!

Feel free to leave a comment. You can always use the search box for my blog or the search "Google For Gardeners" if you're looking for gardening information. If you're looking for seed saving information check out "Seed Snatcher"search engine.

Do not have a blog yourself? Comment using the "anonymous" feature. If you have a Twitter or FB account feel free to use the "Name URL" feature so other people can find you.


Thanks for visiting.