Austin is home to 25 community gardens where residents are encouraged to volunteer during planting, growing and harvesting season.
“It helps beautify the neighborhood,” said Cindy Schneider of the Austin Garden Collective, noting that many of the gardens are located in empty lots that were previously abandoned.
Volunteers Saturdays last two hours and are held most weekends.
“It brings together people of all ages,” said Schneider, adding that some gardens have a play space for kids while others have a fire pit for residents to use.
The Austin resident is also a member of AustinEats, a group of food justice advocates with a goal of getting more healthy food options to the neighborhood. Schneider runs the “Farms to Gardens” group with the intention of bringing at least two more gardens to Austin.
One of the urban farms in the area, PCC Austin Farm, which is a partnership between PCC Community Wellness Center and the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest, has a farm stand each week to buy fresh produce at a discounted price.
They also prepare VeggieRx packages for their patients, which provides PCC patients with recipes, cooking tips and information about living with diet-related diseases.
Located at 330 N. Lotus Ave., the PCC Austin Farm Stand is open to anyone on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon from June through October.
Windy City Harvest believes that “all communities deserve access to high-quality fresh produce.” And there is knowledge that can be tapped; many of Austin residents “have a depth of knowledge in cooking and gardening. The PCC Austin Farm not only provides access to produce but also a space for neighbors to share their resources and knowledge.”
You can learn more about – and get involved with – the Austin Garden Collective.