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Pilsen, Little Village, Back of the Yards

Pilsen Peace Garden Will Get Much-Needed Repairs After Volunteers Meet Fundraising Goal

The Xochiquetzal Peace Garden was built in 1993 by nearby Whittier Dual Language School. Now, it'll get new garden beds so it can grow more produce for neighbors.

The nearly 30-year-old garden will soon get repairs after organizers held multiple fundraising events.
Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
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PILSEN — A nearly 30-year-old community garden in Pilsen will get new soil and garden beds to grow more crops after organizers reached their fundraising goals.

The Xochiquetzal Peace Garden, at the corner of 23rd Street and Wolcott Avenue, had been left mostly untended during the pandemic, garden leader Alyssa Cav said. She and fellow Pilsen resident Carlo Lopez got involved in the garden last year, and have since helped organize volunteers for clean-ups, to grow the social media accounts and host community fundraising events, she said.

After hosting a plant swap last month and an Earth Day event in April, Cav said they raised more than $1,000 for new garden beds and other repairs.

“We were able to raise enough to be able to get entirely new beds, instead of just making small repairs,” she said.

A solid group of volunteers is ready to start installing the beds in the next week or so, Cav said. They’ll also reconfigure the garden’s layout so the beds are in rows and organizers can maximize the space to grow more produce, she said.

Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
The Xochiquetzal Peace Garden was built in 1992 by the nearby Whittier Dual Language School.

Half of the garden is run by Whittier Dual Language School, 1900 W. 23rd St., which launched the garden in 1993. The other half is dedicated to community use, Cav said. The garden is also supported by NeighborSpace, a nonprofit that helps preserve community gardens.

Cav and Lopez said they’ve been blown away by the support of volunteers from the neighborhood, and even some from different parts of the city. During one of the first clean-ups they hosted last summer, Cav said she was hoping at least 20 people might show up; more than 40 attended, including local Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th).

“I had to run to the store to grab some more supplies because we didn’t expect that big of a turnout,” Lopez said. “Originally we had just planned on cleaning the inside, but we were able to do the outside and inside. It was awesome.”

Cav said she thinks the pandemic led to more people getting into gardening as a hobby because outdoor activities were promoted as being a bit safer.

“It just seemed like a missed opportunity to see this garden in disarray when it was like the one thing we could do safely,” she said.

Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
A cucumber growing at the Xochiquetzal Peace Garden July 12, 2022.

Even though volunteers were a bit late to start growing things this season, Cav said the beds are growing tomatoes, cucumbers and several different herbs. Once all the beds are in and they figure out how much they can grow, Cav and Lopez said they’d like to grow produce for the Pilsen Food Pantry, the Love Fridges or other groups dedicated to combatting food insecurity.

To keep up with updates about the Xochiquetzal Peace Garden, follow their social media accounts.

Credit: Madison Savedra/Block Club Chicago
Tomatoes growing at the Xochiquetzal Peace Garden July 12, 2022.

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