DUNNING — From the windows of her condominium near Wright College, Rita Lavin can look out over an empty, barren lot sandwiched between the college's parking garage and a city sanitation facility.
But come spring, Lavin hopes the now-snow-covered land will bloom with dozens of plants as part of her effort to create a community garden on the far northwest edge of the city.
"It is in need of some tender, loving care," Lavin said. "It would be such a wonderful thing to bring the community together."
The garden will be organic, and part of the fruit and vegetable harvest will be given to food pantries and charities in the area, Lavin said.
Fifteen people have already signed up for individual plots at the garden, which will also feature a communal plot to allow gardeners to drop in and get their hands dirty without taking on the commitment of maintaining a garden all summer, Lavin said.
Biology students at Wright will help maintain the garden and perform some of the heavy maintenance, such as fertilizing and weeding, Lavin said. Some will be able to earn credit, she added.
Lavin is focusing on finding creative ways to raise money to buy soil and lumber to build the raised beds for the plants.
"Getting started is a lot of hard work," Lavin said. "But we have a small, core group of volunteers that is really committed."
The land is owned by the city, and Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) said he planned to meet this week with officials from the Department of Housing and Economic Development to get the necessary permits for the garden.
"This will be beneficial to the community," Cullerton said, adding that he envies people with green thumbs, since he can't even grow tomatoes in his back yard. "It is better than the land sitting vacant."
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