Putting a new shade of green in your green thumb

What do birds and tomatoes have in common? One unique garden in South Chicago located on 97th Street and Marquette Avenue. Recently, two groups on the Southeast Side of Chicago have teamed up to address two issues: the dearth of grocery stores and markets that offer a selection of healthy produce, and the lack of native gardens with plants that encourage biodiversity.

Healthy Southeast Chicago and the Southeast Environmental Task Force (www.setaskforce.org) are together encouraging residents to plant “biodiversity gardens” using native plants like the purple coneflower (Echinacea) shown here for health and various native wild flowers to attract birds and insects. This is coupled with classic urban agriculture edibles such as peppers, corn, squash and tomatoes.

Native plants restore the health of our ecosystem by providing habitat for birds, butterflies, and other insects, and vegetable gardens provide nutrition for people. SETF is also exploring how natives can also be used to clean polluted soil over the years. With any luck, social justice and environmental conservation will find a healthy balance in communities home and community gardens

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