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SOUTH CHICAGO — Residents living near two South Chicago community gardens can pick up free perishable goods at weekly giveaways organized by local gardeners.

Weekly distributions are held at the Bush Community Garden of Hope, 8457 S. Buffalo Ave. Items are available on a rotating basis and may include produce, dairy, frozen cooked meat and other items.

A list of available food will be posted to the private Bush Beat Facebook group for neighborhood residents and public Bush Community Gardeners Organization groups, usually on Wednesday evenings, gardener Karen Roothaan said.

Neighbors already in the gardeners’ network have first dibs, said Roothaan, who works out of the Children’s Garden across 85th Street. The giveaways are a small operation, and organizers want to direct their assistance toward residents of South Chicago or nearby South Shore.

If organizers don’t post to the group’s page, “it means the neighborhood wiped [the supplies] out,” she said. But in recent weeks, there’s been the opposite problem — some perishable goods have been thrown out due to low attendance.

Neighbors in need can contact Roothaan through the online groups to arrange pickup. The community could also use help organizing the food giveaways and volunteering in the two gardens, she said.

“Some garden plots are not being used,” she said. “We want to have other people come in and sort of share what we have, if they’re able to work in a very loose structure.”

To donate to the giveaways or to get involved with the gardens, contact Bush Community Garden of Hope coordinator Sue Romero at 773-336-5824.

The Bush — a section of South Chicago roughly bounded from 83rd to 87th streets and from the Metra Electric tracks to Lake Shore Drive — was once a blue-collar neighborhood “bathed in the soot” of nearby blast furnaces, according to the Encyclopedia of Chicago.

It’s now a “very small, very settled community that’s just been gradually losing population” since the steel industry abandoned the Southeast Side, said Roothaan, who’s lived there for two decades.

“But it’s also a community of people who are planning to survive — who have coping skills,” she said.

Plants from the Bush Community Garden of Hope and Children’s Garden, 8457–8501 S. Buffalo Ave. in South Chicago.

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