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DePaul's 'Hidden Garden' Hosts First Farm Stand Sale

By Paul Biasco | August 27, 2013 7:10am
 The DePaul Urban Farming Organization, which runs the DePaul Urban Garden, held its first produce sale Monday.
DePaul University Urban Garden
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LINCOLN PARK — Tucked away in a residential neighborhood, hidden behind a 10-foot fence and just a stone's throw from the Red Line sits DePaul University's "secret garden."

The DePaul Urban Garden was created last spring on a plot of land owned by the university, which is using the land as a garden until the school decides to build on it.

Amir Weg, the 26-year-old co-manager of the plots, and Barb Willard, a professor of both environmental studies and communications, hope that decision doesn't come for years.

The garden spans two city lots at the corner of Belden Avenue and Bissell Street and has more than two dozen planter boxes filled with plants.

"It's a shame that we are behind this fence and no one can see us," Weg said. "If it was up to me, we wouldn't have a fence at all."

On Monday, the DePaul Urban Farming Organization, a student group, hosted the first-ever farm-stand sale in the school's Ray Meyer Fitness and Recreation Center.

Although the group's harvest wasn't huge, it was a big moment, Weg said.

The garden yielded about 10 pounds of Swiss chard, 10 pounds of kale and a few containers of tomatoes and peppers for Monday's sale.

Although Weg doesn't plan on making more than a couple of hundred dollars from the sales, he said it should be enough to buy a few cubic yards of soil.

"It's been a long time coming," Weg said.

The organization plans on hosting one or two more sales this fall.

A core group of students in the organization works on the garden about once a week while Weg and Willard handle most of the watering.

During the school year, the garden is transformed into a living laboratory for Willard's Urban Agriculture class of 26 students.

There's a wait list for the class.

"There's been a ton of interest," Willard said.

There was no timetable for when DePaul would build on the site, but Willard said it seemed like the university had slowed down on construction projects in recent years.

The hope is that the school will allow DePaul's young farmers to continue their project on the roof of whatever type of structure is built, Willard said.

"I spent a year farming out in the country and a missed the city life, so this is pretty cool," Weg said.