Over the past few years Gaia has planted flowers, bushes and trees around our ware house facility. This has provided living space for birds and other animals. Some of the trees will live for 50 years or more. The area is in the South Chicago "food desert" where fresh groceries such as fruits and vegetables are not always readily available in the local stores. Green spaces are limited and few household has a space for kitchen gardens.
Gaia also plants a vegetable & herb garden every spring. Along with the environmental impact the garden provides fresh vegetables for Gaia staff volunteers, and a local food pantry. We use environmentally friendly techniques for growing plants, including composting, mulching and reusing rainwater.
The gardens at The Gaia Movement have a big environmental impact for little effort.We have turned an industrial lot into a gardening place with fertile soil.
- Plants increase groundwater absorption, reducing the amount of water going directly into the city water supply.
- Locally grown fruits and vegetables reduce the resources used for transportation.
- Roots hold the soil during rain, preventing erosion.
- Increased vegetation improves the habitat for animals large and small.
- Plants capture greenhouse gasses, using the gases and storing them in the ground.
A rainwater collector made from a barrel stores water for the garden.
Similar to the rain garden, the collector reduces the amount of water going into storm drains. When needed, the collected water is used on fruits and vegetables. By using the collector The Gaia Movement doesn't have to use treated water from the city.
Compost systems recycle yard and food wastes to create rich organic fertilizer.
The Gaia Movement uses both a three bin system and a worm box to handle organic waste. Composting using the three bin system begins with placing yard waste in the first bin. After two months the waste is turned into the second bin. Two months later it is turned into the third bin as nearly good fertilizer.
The worm bin uses redworms to eat the organic waste. The worms expel castings that make great fertilizer. Food wastes can be composted in this system, but we do not compost food wastes from animals.
Garden Planting 2011
In May 2011 volunteers helped plant a vegetable and herb garden outside of the Gaia Movement warehouse. The garden serves as a working example of a community garden. It provides positive examples of organic gardening, composting and the use of rain water for watering.
The volunteers planted vegetables, mulched around the fruit trees, and planted flowers in pots and planting beds. This year, we are growing tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, eggplant, beans, peas, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, herbs, and a variety of lettuces & greens.
Throughout the summer, volunteers will help maintain, harvest, and enjoy the fruits and vegetables.
Gaia's Rain Garden
A rain garden is a landscaped area planted with native plants and flowers that soaks up rainwater. The garden fills with a few inches of rain water that come off of the roof of a house or building during a storm. After the storm, the water slowly soaks into the ground instead of running off the land into a storm sewer or waterway. Compared with a grassed lawn area, a rain garden may allow 30% more water to be absorbed. Native plants are suggested for use in the rain garden because of their deep roots, water uptake and their ability to tolerate conditions ranging from wet to dry and hot to freezing.