An effort to encourage Oak Park area residents to plant more edible gardens got off to a promising start this spring. The idea gained traction through word-of-mouth promotion and flier distribution. Within a few days, more than 30 people had joined the email list of the Oak Park Area Edible Gardening Cooperative, and its new Twitter account had attracted 50-plus followers. The gardening cooperative grew out of ongoing discussions among three Oak Park gardeners and environmental activists — Estelle Carol, Julie Samuels and Cassandra West. They believe that experienced gardeners and gardeners-in-training can combine their collective power to improve health in four vital areas: land, people, food and community.
Edible landscaping integrates food plants within an ornamental or decorative setting. Many edible landscape gardeners have even turned their front yards into bountiful food producing spaces without losing any of the beauty that adds to their property. They simply substitute lettuces, berries, vegetables and fruit trees for unproductive, water-hogging plants.
Still in the early stage, the Oak Park Area Gardening Cooperative is a virtual community that will offer opportunities to share, collaborate, learn and enjoy the rewards that come from growing more edible plants.
Those who join the email list can expect to receive an announcement soon about a meet-and-greet event, and eventually, mini workshops, informal field trips and more.