EAST GARFIELD PARK — Spring is in bloom and fresh fruit is nearly in season, but why risk a run to the market when one of nature’s most nutritious fruits — raspberries — can easily grow in abundance in the yard of any home gardener?
Raspberry bushes grow practically like weeds — and that’s why one West Side community garden is giving away dozens of raspberry bushes.
The Madison Street Garden at the corner of Madison Street and Francisco Avenue is a large community garden covering four lots that has been in East Garfield park for over a decade. Years ago, John Perryman, who runs the garden, planted raspberry bushes that eventually grew wild across the garden.
Now, there are between 100 and 150 fruit bearing canes in the overgrown raspberry patch, each of which can be dug up and planted in the yard of any gardener looking to try their hand at growing their own fruit.
“It’s that resilience,” Perryman said. “Someone’s weed is someone else’s treasure.”
The raspberry bushes are available to anybody who wants one, but Perryman is especially hopeful that residents of the surrounding Garfield Park neighborhood will take interest since much of the area is a food desert that has long struggled with food access.
“Raspberries are expensive and they don’t travel well. If you can walk outside into your yard and eat a few raspberries everyday, that’s pretty empowering to have control over your own food,” he said.
Perryman also wants to encourage more residents, especially West Side natives, to join the Madison Street Garden. The garden is an empowering way to tap into the agricultural roots shared by many families in the area, and can help to sustainably address food scarcity issues while also fostering a sense of community that many people are craving as the social isolation wears on.
The garden typically charges a $25 fee per bed. But Perryman offers scholarships for local residents who are curious about joining the garden but need a little extra support. Residents who join the garden would get pretty much everything they need for free from the Garfield Park Garden Network, including seedlings, equipment, and guidance from more experienced gardeners.
Residents interested in picking up a raspberry bush or joining the garden can email Perryman at John.firstname.lastname@example.org. The bushes are available on an ongoing basis but Perryman hopes to give away all the bushes by May 4.
Pascal Sabino is a Report for America corps member covering Austin, North Lawndale and Garfield Park for Block Club Chicago.
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