This fall, thanks to the efforts of a coalition of residents, nonprofit groups and businesses, three vacant lots in Austin will be transformed from litter-plagued eyesores to vibrant community gardens.
The lots – located in the 600 block of North Lorel, the 900 block of North Lockwood and the 5400 block of West Madison – were selected for transformation as part of a block club competition sponsored by Austin Coming Together and LISC Chicago.
Abundant research documents the benefits of community gardens: they provide exercise for gardeners, fresh produce for residents, and opportunities for youth and adults to work together.
Community gardens have been shown to reduce people’s levels of fear and anger, muscle tension and blood pressure, and to help people feel less fatigued and more satisfied with their lives.
Work on the three winning Austin lots began today, Sept. 1st, when volunteers from Wells Fargo teamed up with local residents and Austin Coming Together staff to prepare the lots for grading by removing trash and debris, pruning bushes and removing yard waste.
Later this month, each lot will be graded and fencing installed by a local contractor. The first planters and raised beds will be installed this tall, and each of the three winning block clubs will celebrate with a block party in late September.
Funding for this project has been provided by LISC Chicago and Wells Fargo. Community organizations Austin Coming Together, Westside Health Authority and South Austin Neighborhood Association have donated staff support. The United Way of Metropolitan Chicago is helping to coordinate volunteers, and the three winning block clubs are contributing volunteers.
Come visit the gardens, watch them grow and lend a hand to this community effort!