AVONDALE — A vacant Avondale lot will get a sustainable makeover ahead of the A Day in Avondale festival as nonprofit gardeners from Mindful Living turn the empty space into a green community workshop.
The recently unfenced lot at 2816 N. Milwaukee Ave., just north of the Hairpin Loft, is spiked with thick, freshly mowed weeds, but Elizabeth Leipold says she expected rehab work to be completed by late September, in time for the fest. That work includes the addition of several straw bales, new mulch, a mural and other community-crafted projects.
A community work party for the lot is set from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 13.
Straw bale gardens — hay bales with hollowed centers for vegetable and flower stems and roots — are portable, short term installations that require less water than typical gardens. They're a perfect match for the location, Leipold said.
The new garden will be free and open to the public, Leipold said — the space itself was donated by a local business owner after Leipold asked to convert it on behalf of the community.
“Our mission is to educate people about how to grow their own food at home — to take this practice into their everyday life,” she said. “We want people going to their own backyards. We bring everyone to our site then hopefully send them home with an understanding of sustainable practices.”
Leipold and Mindful Living will set up shop in the vacant, house-sized lot to show how gardening can be adopted in relatively small spaces to provide educational opportunities and food for families. Spaces at the rehabbed lot will include an area where stepping stones will be made for use at the group’s location at 3323 N. Drake Ave., a site they’ve operated for about six years.
Once the space is mulched and set with straw bale gardens, with community participation, the crew will sell produce grown in Avondale, host art-making exhibits and provide a step-by-step tour of how those same gardening practices can be applied at home.
“I think this lot is really important because it gives us visibility. We’re currently on residential street lot, so we don’t get a lot of foot traffic,” she said. “Getting people involved is labor intensive.”
“We’re using gardening as a vehicle for education and sustainable practices for everyday life — raising awareness on our impact on the world around us,” she added.
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