As the end of summer nears (those are very difficult words to write!), I become especially aware of the special pleasures this season brings. Light-filled summer evenings encourage outdoor adventures with friends and family and, with any luck, we enjoy precious moments in nature, restoring and re-energizing us.
Nowhere am I more aware of nature’s power than in the Garden’s own Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, where, from small seedlings or nearly invisible seeds planted in the dreary days of late spring, healthy plants have grown, flowered, been pollinated, and are now yielding an abundant harvest of fresh produce.
The Fruit & Vegetable Garden is where the seeds of education produce their own rewards. During summer, adult apprentices in the Windy City Harvest job-training program work three days a week, helping the Garden’s horticulturists and acquiring skills and valuable hands-on experience.
It’s also where middle- and high-school students from the Green Youth Farm, another of the Garden’s community gardening programs, visit once a week to help harvest, and then take to market, the Garden’s crops. The students learn how to turn what they harvested into healthy meals they will prepare and share together.
The Garden Café, using the vision of new chef Danny Salgado and manager Michael Ginsberg, now offers meals made with the fresh, organic produce grown by Green Youth Farm students. Here, the Garden supports local agriculture, while at the same time allowing students to experience the satisfaction of seeing visitors enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Last May, President’s Circle members helped to plant 1,000 native perennials that provide habitat and food for beneficial insects and pollinators in the Fruit & Vegetable Garden. Now thriving, these plants exemplify the benefits of working together. Not only are they beautiful, they support the health and vitality of the Garden.
I invite you to visit the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden during this harvest season. I think you will find delightful evidence of the gifts of nature and the benefits of working together. From soil teeming with life to plants providing beauty and food to nourish us all, summer gives us many reasons to feel thankful.