Garfield Park Eco-Orchard

Garden Network

The Garfield Park Eco-Orchard is a fruit and nut orchard that will increase nature-based programming and green space along the Fifth Avenue Corridor.

As part of the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development’s Resilient Corridors Project, the orchard will be located on two currentlyvacant parcels along the Fifth Ave Resilient Corridor, between Sacramento and Kedzie. The project will divert and direct stormwater 90,000 gallons from surrounding streets and alleys into green infrastructure elements such as trees, native gardens, and urban agriculture all to be built on city-owned land. The Eco-Orchard project has many benefits, including improved health outcomes.

Residents attend a communiy meeting in 2018
Residents attend a community meeting in 2018

The orchard concept originated from community members, who requested locally-grown fruit at the Garfield Park Neighborhood Market.

Since 2018, community members have been working with City officials to plan for the Eco-Orchard installation. In the fall of 2018, community residents and stakeholders participated in three design meetings and an online survey, with support from Metropolitan Planning Council and Elevated Chicago. Through these community planning sessions, residents articulated their vision for the orchard, as well as ways the project can help to anchor existing community assets. Of the more than 130 people who participated, 62.3% preferred one of two proposed designs.

The preferred design features tree plantings and berry bushes planted on the corner parcel at Fifth Avenue and Sacramento, and will incorporate bioswales for stormwater collection. The Albany and Sacramento parcel will incorporate a community gathering space and nature play site, to be developed as part of the West Side Nature Play Network.

Garfield Park Eco-Orchard Timeline

2010-2012: President Obama’s Stimulus Plan allocates funding to the City of Chicago to create a re-entry jobs program for residents returning from the Department of Corrections to the Garfield Park neighborhood. The Safer Foundation, Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, and a local landscape company create a two-year green job training program. The southwest corner of Sacramento and Fifth Ave. was a site developed under the green jobs program.

2013 - present: Garfield Park gardeners grow the Neighborhood Market to sell up to 3,000 pounds of locally grown fresh vegetables between June and October. Residents make numerous requests for local fruits to be sold at the Market, prompting gardeners to consider an orchard development.

2015: The Garfield Park Garden Network and Openlands apply to the City of Chicago for Open Space Impact Fee Funds.

July - September 2015: The City of Chicago hosts two community meetings in East Garfield Park to discuss methods for helping the community become better prepared for extreme weather events. The meetings informed City’s plan to identify locations for projects that divert stormwater from the City’s combined sewer system and provide multiple benefits in communities that are most vulnerable to extreme heat and urban flooding. At these meetings, the City learned about the community’s desire to build an orchard.

Summer 2017: The City applies for a green infrastructure grant from the Metropolitan Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to fund orchard construction. MWRD awards $500,000 to the project in early 2018.

February 2018: City Council committee approves $500,000 in funding for the orchard, matching the $500,000 from MWRD.

August 2018: GPCC and community members attend a community meeting at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 3162 W. Monroe, to discuss stormwater flooding and emergency readiness.

Fall 2018: GPCC conducts door-to-door outreach for the project, distributing 2,100 postcards and dedicating several outreach days to knocking on doors of neighbors living near the orchard site. With the City’s Department of Planning and Development, AECOM, and Metropolitan Planning Council, GPCC holds a series of three community planning and design meetings for the development.

Partners tour the site of the future Nature Play Space in the summer of 2019

Summer 2019: GPCC joins a partnership with NeighborSpace to form the West Side Nature Play Network, which will establish up to six nature play spaces on the West Side of Chicago, including support for one component of the orchard.

2020 - 2021: GPCC staff members engage the City’s Department of Planning and Development regularly, and update the community on the project’s progress at Open Space and Land Use Committee meetings. Following challenges to the project’s initial plan for installation in 2020, GPCC has invited City staff to present at monthly meetings and expects that project installation will begin in 2021.