A Washington School garden. Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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Mission:to create resources and empower residents to grow and cook their own produce.

Edible Evanston got off to an enthusiastic but unfocused start, said Cynthia Kasper, one of the chairs of the Edible Evanston committee, with several exciting proposals. “There were a number of things that took off but we struggled with a main vision,” she said. Edible Evanston regrouped in July and reconfigured their project to a very local one, focusing on yard gardens – or “yardens. … Our goal is to establish 150 new yardens in Evanston by the end of 2012. … Everybody went home with the idea that this is a really great idea.” Some master gardeners from the Chicago Botanic Garden attended the August meeting, she said. “So we’re hitting the ground running with this idea.”

Growing food locally and sharing it with the community are likely to become a critical social issue, said Ms. Kasper. “Ninety-five percent of our food in the Midwest is imported – whether from California or South America is immaterial. … We would really be in serious trouble if our food supply were disrupted.” To that end, Edible Evanston began a food-sharing project with the Community Gardeners of James Park, said Ken Kastman, Edible Evanston co-chair. Pickups of excess produce are made at 3:30pm on Thursdays at the James Park gardens, and the produce is donated to two local food pantries, he said.

Another proposal, to rehab the Carlson greenhouse adjacent to the Evanston Art Center, is on a temporary hold, even though almost $5,000 of funding has been committed to it, said Mr. Kastman.
Once the greenhouse has been fixed up, the group, together with SAGE and the Orrington School garden, hopes to raise 5,000 seedlings to sell at local farmers’ markets.

The greenhouse is one of multiple properties on which the Harley Clarke mansion (the present site of the art center), the Grosse Point light stations and fog houses lie. The City has issued requests for purchase or lease of at least the mansion, so that the project may be
temporarily on hold.

Edible Evanston appears to be self-sufficient at this point – there is not much other than manpower the group needs from the community. They may seek volunteers later and hope that word about the project will spread, said Ms. Kasper. “Some of the work will be sweat equity,” she said. The immediate question is “How do we get people’s hands into the dirt?”