It was raining – great for the new rain garden, but not so great for a community gardening day. Would anyone come? Hopeful, we set up the tents and laid out the sandwiches, and parents and youth started arriving a little after noon.
"We were so thrilled that families and volunteers showed up, despite the morning rain! It was truly a great opportunity to bond with the community organizations that supported these efforts and the tenants and community members that will benefit from this garden space."
~ LUCHA Team
With a quick tutorial from Dana from McKay Landscaping and Margaret from the Illinois Master Gardener program, we learned which native plants should stay, and which weeds to pull. Working together, we made quick work of the weeding. And then we made quick work of the food!
The rain garden was more than a year in the making. LUCHA (Latin United for Community Housing Association) decided that a rain garden was a perfect addition to the Tierra Linda community food garden. The Tierra Linda housing development bridges affordable housing with sustainability, including Chicago’s first affordable, multi-family Passive House.
April Harris, a tenant in Tierra Linda who loves being involved in community programming, exclaimed, “I love how everyone came together to pull weeds and help out in the garden. I loved how all the kids were involved too; it was like one big family.”
Every community brings a unique view on rain gardens and climate resiliency. Drawing on LUCHA’s promatora model (community health educators who live and work in the neighborhood), we gathered for a virtual design workshop. Community members shared ideas about how the new garden area should look and function. From there, McKay Landscape Architects created the planting plan, and Greencorps Chicago—a green-industry employment program—installed the native plants from Midwest Groundcovers. The last piece of the puzzle is now coordinating community gardeners to support garden upkeep, with guidance from a maintenance plan developed by Greenprint Partners.
This rain garden was made possible through the generous financial, in-kind, and technical support of many, including Elevated Chicago, McKay Landscape Architects, Greencorps Chicago, Midwest Groundcovers, Greenprint Partners, The Nature Conservancy and Illinois Master Gardeners. CNT and LUCHA are grateful to the organizations and people who helped us grow community together.