Who are we?
The Cooperation Operation is a diverse group including members with familial ties spanning four continents. We have work experience in corporate and nonprofit spheres as well as grassroots movements; collectively we have had our mitts in many fields including most facets of the art world, education and agriculture.
What do we want to create?
We seek to create a garden that all community members can access, service and benefit from. In our first operating year, we mean to grow the infrastructure that will allow us to have a successful bounty this harvest and for years to come. Several distinct projects comprise our goals for this season:
- Community Garden On a 23,000 square foot concrete pad we seek to erect 9 additional raised vegetable beds to keep the food we grow safe from contamination due to pollution. We need the concrete and masonry to create our beds, gravel to provide a draining base, compost to provide a nurturing environment for plant growth, hoses to irrigate crops and tools such as shovels and rakes to engage community members in our project.
- Sea of Wildflowers: Surrounding our garden, we will plant and foster several hundred square feet of wildflowers. These will serve to cleanse the polluted soil and attract bee activity, benefiting our plants and beautifying our community. We need the tools to till and plant our field of wildflowers, as well as the hoses and sprinklers to irrigate our plants in times of drought.
- Greenhouse: We will construct a greenhouse for seed starting and fostering delicate greenery. A greenhouse can also nurture plants before they are large enough to root outside and allow us to extend the growing season beyond the natural bounds of the Chicago climate. We need plastic, steel and concrete to erect a greenhouse with quality proven design.
- Garden Material Transportation: We will be delivering food and hauling large amounts of garden necessities - soil, organic compost and rocks, as well as transporting tools and machinery such as greenhouse supplies, shovels, rakes, and a rototiller. We need at least two quality wheelbarrows to move materials within the garden. We also need a pickup truck to haul materials to our site and eventually move materials between additional sites as our operation expands. We will purchase a high-quality, used vehicle as well as this season’s insurance and gas for under $5,000.
Where will this magic happen?
We seek to revitalize abandoned space in Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood, a known food desert. Giving new meaning to the idea of “fast food,” an abandoned lot next to the highway will be the home of a community garden and a field of scraggly weeds will be a sea of beautiful flowers.
When will the pantry be stocked?
In just 2 months we have already received approval from the City government to use an abandoned lot, applied for water access, incorporated, had a string of well-attended publicity events, purchased seeds, installed a gravel access road and positioned our first raised bed, a reclaimed boat. We seek to roll this momentum forward by purchasing the supplies necessary to cultivate food this growing season, with crops throughout the summer and fall, as well as permanently set the site up for future harvests.
Why you should care?
Using the pre-existing social and ecological landscapes, we will create a series of local and sustainable developments to serve as material resources for our community. By building the infrastructure for a high yielding community garden, we aim to construct a safe and beautiful community space for educational, economic and environmental opportunities. In a town that is too familiar with empty spaces and disinvestment, our garden will be a positive social center for Pullman; it will engage and inform local residents, cultivate environmental responsibility, food and wellness education as well as civic engagement.
Risks and challenges
Without community involvement and support, a sustainable community garden would not be possible. Seeking trust and transparency, The Cooperation Operation will openly communicate our activities and goals and welcome interested individuals and organizations to volunteer and collaborate with us.
Engagement with the community will be maintained and nurtured through acts of outreach including fostering bonds with our neighbors, going door to door, publishing a quarterly newsletter, maintaining a relevant online presence and hosting a variety of events including garden work days, musical performance fundraisers, art shows, skill-swapping events and educational workshops. Additionally, we will reach out to like-minded organizations and other Pullman community groups to unite in our shared goals.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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