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By Alexandra Nelson, Peterson Garden Project

Peterson Garden Project (PGP) wants everyone to grow their own food, seriously.

We’ve put in Pop Up Victory Gardens, demonstration gardens, school gardens and workplace gardens all over Chicago’s north side.

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Founded by well-known garden blogger and food activist, LaManda of theyarden.com, “PGP” is a plot-to-plate resource center, with gardens, classes and publications to help people in cities get over their “fear of food growing.”

A big part of the project is education. Teaching new gardeners (we call them “grewbies”) how to start and maintain a food garden is the most important thing we do.

And along the way, we find that we’re all grewbies to some extent, because there’s always a new aspect of growing your own food to learn – new plants, new recipes, new techniques.

For example, many of our grewbies “grew up” gardening-wise and started saying, “what if instead of buying plants to start my garden, I start my own seeds – how do I do that?”

So we started a seed starting workshop and our annual Seed Swap.

Then they grew a little more and wondered, well, where do those seeds come from anyway? How do I grow for seeds? And the Seed Saving Garden was born.

It’s magical watching this process, as our members, whether grewbie or Master Gardener, learn more and more about how food grows, and rediscover ancient skills and knowledge in a modern urban setting.

The Seed Starting Garden at Global Gardens is part of this process. A demonstration garden to show people where seeds come from, it was funded by a community-supported Kickstarter campaign with seeds provided by Slow Food Chicago and Seed Savers Exchange, two amazing organizations who are providing the kind of expertise, materials and community that are key features of Peterson Garden Project.

Plants from Slow Food Chicagoand Seed Savers Exchange, including many varieties from the Ark of Taste, are being grown for seed at Global Gardens and Land on Lincoln and for the Grow2Give program at the Montrose Green and Vedgewater sites. Check out the varieties that we’re growing and then get growing in your community.

Alexandra Nelson is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener, founding member at Peterson Garden Project and inveterate seed saver. She is especially proud of her own “backyard cultivar” Black Krim tomatoes, which she has been saving seeds from for 11 years. You can find her blogging about life and gardening at Not Dabbling in Normal.