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Logan Square's Corner Farm Launches 2013 Season

LOGAN SQUARE — It appears spring has finally sprung, and in no place is that more obvious than Corner Farm Chicago.

Last year's mild winter allowed volunteers to begin planting at Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm in February, but there was no such luck this year.

Volunteers are just getting into the planting phase as they spruce up the Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm, now in its fifth season, and prepare the new Kimball Medill space for its first complete season.

With two gardens fully established, the organization formerly known as Altgeld Sawyer Corner Farm is now simply known as Corner Farm Chicago.

And they hope to keep growing — pun intended.

"At Kimball Medill we're trying something a little different with the grow one, give one model," said spokeswoman Brie Callahan. "We're building a little bit of self-interest into the model."

The Altgeld Sawyer garden gives freshly grown veggies to the nearby Christopher House, which helps at-risk kids, and yield from the Kimball Medill Farm will be donated to the Kimball Avenue Church pantry.

But to entice a new crop of volunteers, organizers will allow volunteers to keep what they grow in one 4-foot-by-8-foot garden bed, provided they care for the 4-by-8 bed next to it to donate to the pantry.

"We want to be able to give people a little bit of reason to volunteer and get them out to the farm, and grow our volunteer base," Callahan said. "It's with that idea that we want to scale this up — we want to be able to move up to a third garden and a fourth garden, but we want to be able to do it in a responsible way."

While that model's being put into place at Kimball Medill space, the older Altgeld Sawyer garden is getting something of a "facelift," Callahan said.

Two old, dying trees were cut down to allow more light on the garden, and some of the garden bed boxes that have begun to rot away are being rebuilt by volunteers.

A new irrigation line is also being added to reduce the ever demanding watering requirements.

"I'm not going to lie, we're always going to have use for a water crew at Altgeld Sawyer," Callahan said. "But we hope it's going to decrease our water usage and decrease the strain on volunteers."

As for this year's long winter, Callahan said that will likely be a boon as well.

"We are actually thankful for a colder spring because then we won't see as many bugs and disease like we did last year," she said.

Anyone interested in volunteering at either Corner Farms should visit the group's website or Facebook page.