Assumptions Ground Up

by Katje Sabin (mamagotcha)

A Writer’s Education in Prejudice, Organic Gardening, and the True Meaning of Community 

Jeanne Nolan Photo courtesy of Susan Varick
Jeanne Nolan (Photo courtesy of Susan Varick)

I know this doesn’t reflect well on me, but . . . I did not want to like Jeanne Nolan.

Hmm, let me back up a little bit. . . .

About six months ago, I moved from my house with a yard to an apartment on the north side of Chicago. I was fortunate enough to land two blocks away from an organic community garden that had an open plot. It was mid-June, a little late to start a garden in the Midwest, but I managed to eke out some kale, a couple of jalapenos, and a few cherry tomatoes before Halloween arrived to close us down with the first sleet of the season.

Our 46-plot garden was undergoing some serious organizational upheaval among its members (a few of whom had been with the garden continuously since it opened in 1982). Through a flurry of emails, meetings, and phone calls, I accidentally found myself installed as the new garden coordinator, and was unceremoniously thrust into the bustling and burgeoning world of Chicago’s urban community gardening movement.

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