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'Bridgeport Victory Gardens' Seeks Growers to Beautify Morgan Street

By Casey Cora | June 26, 2014 7:54am
 The upstart effort aims to create green space in vacant lots around the neighborhood.
Bridgeport Victory Gardens
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BRIDGEPORT — The raised garden beds that have appeared in a weedy plot on Morgan Street can be traced back to a pair of entrepreneurial artists who live in the neighborhood.

But this is not really about them.

It's about overhauling the abundant vacant land scattered among the area's busier streets, and it's about involving everyone who's looking to do something about it.

"There's not enough green space. There's not enough gardens happening ... It just seems like untapped resources," said Corey Allbritten, 37, a software developer and musician who, along with Maren Celest, created the Bridgeport Victory Gardens in the 3200 block of South Morgan Street.

Unlike some community gardens where growers have to pay to reserve a spot, the Bridgeport effort is open to anyone, there are no reservations required, and it's completely free.

"We're enjoying the spirit of keeping it open," Allbritten said.

Already, the garden has attracted a few ambitious growers who've planted greens and tomatoes in a few of the raised beds, which have all been made with scavenged wood and donated soil.

"The most expensive things were the gas money to pick up the resources," Allbritten said. 

The couple's effort began a few months back, when they started scouting empty Bridgeport lots. Eventually, they found willing partners in the proprietors of the Martinez Supermercado. The Martinez family owns the empty lot across from their market where the garden has been installed.

Rudy Martinez, the store's co-owner, said he was all for it.

"It's nice and clean," Martinez said from behind the counter of the store's taqueria. "They're making it look nice. Morgan Street needs this. Instead of empty lots, it will make the neighborhood stand out even more."

The garden effort is the latest in a series of DIY upgrades to Morgan Street.

Earlier this month, anonymous "guerilla urbanists" started installing flower boxes made from reclaimed wood along the street, and new murals are taking shape at Maria's Community Bar and Co-Prosperity Sphere.

A separate streetscaping project, one that will repave and expand pedestrian access on Morgan, will start next year, Ald. James Balcer (11th) said.

While the victory gardens could already be dubbed a success — next-door neighbors and complete strangers are planting there — there's room for more beds and more growers, Allbritten and Maren said.

Now they're searching for more agreeable Bridgeport land owners who'd be cool with more victory gardens sprouting up on their properties.

"People have immediately started asking us about it. They're saying thanks. I'd like to think that'd be the experience for the next plots," Allbritten said.

Interested in growing? Check out the group's Facebook page to get started.

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