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Community garden fundraiser assists residents residents looking to grow own fruits and vegetables

Tomato plants
Tomato plants grown in McGowan South's rooftop greenhouse by biology associate professor William Gilliland will be part of Saturday's Howard Area Community Garden organic plant sale open to the public. (DePaul University/Russell Dorn)
An organic plant sale that benefits the Howard Area Community Garden in the Juneway Terrace neighborhood will run from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Saturday, June 2 at the garden, 1715 W. Juneway Terrace.

Hosted by William Gilliland, an associate professor in biology, and his wife, Katje Sabin, the sale will feature five types of tomatoes, two types of zucchini, two types of peppers, two types of cucumbers, eggplant, kale, spinach and basil. Plants are a recommended $3 donation each with all proceeds going back to the Howard Area Community Garden. The sale is open to the public.

The two previous sales in 2016 and 2017 have helped raise money for critical additions to the garden. One upgrade was a new concrete patio that replaced an old wooden deck. Another addition was a series of plant boxes around the outside of the garden filled with fruits and vegetables that are open for all members of the public to pick.

Founded in 1982 with a goal of providing a space for local residents to grow their own fruits and vegetables, the Howard Area Community Garden is part of the larger nonprofit group NeighborSpace, which buys abandoned lots all over Chicago for neighborhood gardening purposes.

Gilliland grows the plants himself in the months leading up to the sale and has limited costs thanks to donations. After purchasing the soil and receiving donated pots and seeds, Gilliland grows the plants in the greenhouse on top of the McGowan South building on the Lincoln Park Campus before transporting the plants to the garden for the sale.

"About half of our gardeners don't have a lot of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, so this garden serves as an important source of fresh food for those individuals," Gilliland says. "It's tough, the way the supermarkets provide things - it's easier to get sugary foods than fresh vegetables, especially organic vegetables. This garden gives people the pride of getting to work on something they can reap the benefits of and provides a community aspect by bringing people together that have similar backgrounds and experiences. We've gotten really great feedback from the community. They are proud of the garden."

Third-Annual Howard Area Community Garden Organic Plant Sale
Saturday, June 2
9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
1715 W. Juneway Terrace, Chicago, IL 60626

For more information, visit the event's Facebook page or contact William Gilliland.