The 65th and Woodlawn garden began in 2006, when resident Benja Murphy saw potential to build a community garden out of what was first a small, two-person gardening plot. The land is owned by the First Presbyterian Church on 64th and Kimbark, which owns a substantial amount of land in Woodlawn, especially surrounding empty lots. Rather than selling land that is often below market value, in an effort to address Woodlawn’s near food desert status, together with Benja, they transformed it into a space of urban agriculture. In doing so, the Church also repurposed the land in a way that allowed them no longer need to pay taxes on it. Former Pastor Reggie Weaver was a marked advocate for food justice, and gardener Margaret Mass says that he believed “people’s lack of health was an impediment to their spiritual development.”
Without a fence, people assume that the community garden serves the food needs of the entire community, and take food from gardener’s plots. Yet with a fence comes an aura of exclusivity of the garden. To resolve the fence dilemma, the garden plants vegetables outside of the fence for anyone to pick and eat.
Start the video at 3:33 to hear founder Benja Murphy speak about the 65th and Woodlawn Garrden.
Clark, Barbara. Interview. 30 March 2016. Mass, Margaret. Interview. 10 May 2016. The Farm Network Documentary - Episode #1. The Farm Network Channel, 2013. Film. “Usage Agreement for the 65th & Woodlawn Community Garden.” 2012: n. pag. Print.