Garden Profile: Monarch Community Garden

Monarch Comm Garden - Taksia & Ulana - What a Watermelon!

Monarch Comm Garden – Taksia & Ulana – What a Watermelon!

Monarch Community Garden is a large allotment type community garden in the Humboldt Park neighborhood with about 100 plots. The garden was started in 2011 and is on land owned by Norwegian American Hospital.  They have no sponsoring entity and are self-organized.

As I walked up to the back gate at the Monarch Community Garden a group of teenage girls appeared looking purposeful and riding the coolest bikes. They were from ‘Girls on Bikes’, a neighborhood after school group organized by West Town Bikes and the group has a plot at the garden.

May Tsupros showed me around the garden on a late summer evening just before twilight. May is part of the leadership cadre that runs the garden.  As is typical in late summer lots of gardeners were stopping by before dark to water and harvest from their plots.

The garden is organized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit and has two governing bodies; a Board that is 5 members who serve for 3 years each, and a Leadership Team that runs day-to-day operations and serves as long as they’d like.  Dollars raised from plot fees goes towards garden supplies, beekeeping and an annual garden party.  Monarch has several standing work committees that help maintain the garden.  A ‘fixing committee’ handles all repairs to infrastructure, the ‘water committee’ works to fill water barrels from a hydrant hookup and another group works to integrate new gardeners.  The ‘compost committee’ has 8 individuals who each take a week’s turn at maintaining the compost pile.

All gardeners are required to help out in some way. If not on a standing committee gardeners are required to participate in one of several ‘community days’ held each year where general cleanup and projects are scheduled.

May also spoke about the challenge of maintaining diversity in a gentrifying neighborhood and how that affects the Monarch garden community.  May also indicated they want to do a better job working with plot holders that have extra produce they don’t want and how to get that distributed to the local community.  A white rock is placed by the plot holder in their plot to indicate that produce can be harvested for this purpose.  Monarch has a fence that is locked so they are thinking about ways to get the extra produce into neighbor’s hands.

Girls Bike Club started in 2011 and is a weekly, year round drop in program. Danni Limonez, program manager at West Town Bikes says “We have been a part of the Monarch Garden since April 2016. We love that Monarch is a big, organized garden and that most people are very friendly. We like our little plot and it teaches us a whole lot about taking care of something (especially the younger ones) and earning it. At Girls Bike Club, we believe it is important to be outside and eat healthy.”



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