Location: Chicago, Illinois
In the late summer of 2010, the very generous owner of the lot next door to our home handed us some seeds, a new hose and the keys to a full tool shed for us to begin rehabilitating this gorgeous piece of land! We felt like we had won the lottery, despite the massive amount of hard work that lay ahead of us.
This lot had been abandoned for about ten years, and a large mafia family of rats had been happily living there for some time. The pond was filled with garbage, the raised beds were fields of weeds and garlic chives, and the soil was heavily compacted and nutrient depleted.
With the help of some friends we were able to clear the overgrown ivy, chives and weeds. We decided to cut down a large crabapple tree that was shading out the garden, and providing a messy food source for rats. One hour after this decision, my Dad and brother showed up with a pickup truck and a chainsaw, and that puppy was down! We've since found fun ways to reuse the wood from the tree and the stump currently holds our birdbath.
A fence surrounds the perimeter of the garden, which makes for an easy hop-over, but an agonizing afternoon of lifting heavy compost four feet into the air. We call our garden the Secret Garden.
My partner and I have been able to grow food for ourselves and friends and enough to preserve through the winter. We love having our friends over to make pizzas topped with the vegetables growing in our garden.