As people in our world, we are the most connected we've ever been, yet the most disconnected, especially from our food. Restaurants and diners have gotten used to sourcing produce and other foods from large companies, usually far away. The West Loop Community Garden seeks to combat this by providing a place for residents and non-residents of the West Loop neighborhood to grow their own produce. Learn how this community garden applies to being in college, and how you can get started on gardening!


Started in 2016, the garden is located on the corner of Sangamon and Madison Streets. As neighborhood folks were complaining of nowhere to garden, this area provided the perfect solution. Featuring architectural artifacts from over 200 years old as well as a community stage, this location drew in those ready to garden. To begin this mission, 100 grow pods, or kiddie pools turned personal garden plots, sold for $100 each, raising $10,000 to start the garden. As gardening is only allowed to take place on paved area of the vacant lot, there has been the creative challenge of utilizing a maximum amount of space. Nontraditional methods for collecting water have began, including collecting condensation from a neighboring building's air conditioner. Despite the challenges the garden has faced, there is now so much success that they are expanding to a separate lot on Morgan Street in the coming years. 

What Can I See Today?

From a plethora of sunflowers to pools of tomatoes, the chances you will see your favorite fruit or vegetable being grown are incredibly high. Residents and gardeners of the West Loop have committed to plentiful gardens full of fresh produce. Looking to visit? You will know you're there when you see the multicolored pompom balls and "GROW" on the fence. 

Reece Fisher
Why Eat Fresh?

It is no secret that fruits and vegetables are healthy. Eating local foods makes us feel better, and eating local foods decreases one's ecological footprint It is better to eat locally than to source produce from across the country, and by supporting local farmers, you are supporting your community. The West Loop community garden as well as other local gardens help restaurants feed the community and keep things as fresh as possible. 

Arturo Velazquez

Why Does A Community Garden Make Sense in the City?

The West Loop is home to many great restaurants, many of which are award-winning tourist destinations. However, not many restaurants proudly source their food locally. The West Loop garden draws a community together where people grow and share their own food. It brings a neighborhood of somewhat disconnected neighbors together to achieve a common goal. The garden adds beauty to the area and brings people closer to their food; This can happen anywhere! 

How to Garden as a College Student?

Growing food is easy! Some easy crops anyone can try are beans, tomatoes, sunflowers, garlic, cucumbers, and herbs. All it takes are the key components of sun, soil, and water. You can start a garden anywhere! If you still don't know where to start, try to get involved in your local community garden! Growing things together is sometimes better than growing things alone. Cooking new recipes also will spark an interest in healthy produce. You're in luck: Spoon is just the place for great recipes!

Reece Fisher

Want to get involved in gardening? There's no better time to start than summer! Share your favorite recipes with fresh foods to Spoon's instagram, and be sure to like us on Facebook!