Annual Harvest Day showcases West Side’s agriculture community
|By Pascal Sabino, Environmental Health and Wellness Editor, The Real Chi & Industry Pathways 2018 Cohort|
West Side residents looking to explore their inner farmer can attend the Garfield Park Conservatory between noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15 for the seventh annual Harvest Day. The recommended donation for attending the event is $5. Hosted by the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, the event will be a family-friendly celebration of urban agriculture in the city of Chicago.
"There's a really vibrant urban agriculture community on the west side," said Lydia Van Slyke, event organizer and manager of the Family and Youth Programs Manager for the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance . "Here at the conservatory, we have a lot of adult programming about urban agriculture."
Residents on the West Side frequently participate in the area’s many community gardens, with some even raising their own livestock like chickens and goats. "It's just a more sustainable way to live and provide inside of the community," she said.
Harvest Day will have a full program of events, games, demonstrations and workshops to show community members and residents from all across the city how they can engage in sustainable urban agriculture practices year round.
Kids will be able to join a bean bag toss game, and people of all ages will get to play a game of "Veggie BINGO," where the winner gets a bag of vegetables. Attendees will also have an animal observation experience where they will get to interact with chickens and goats.
Local chef and business owner Trinisa Williams of Trini's Tasty Pastries will run a live food demonstration with the theme, "Grandma's Canning." During the demonstration, Williams will show attendees how to make relishes, jams, preserves and pickles.
The event will have other agriculture education demos showcasing techniques for sustainable food production in the city. The composting education session will allow participants to learn how they can start their own compost piles. Likewise, the beekeeping demonstration will have head beekeeper Marcin Matelski demonstrate how the conservatory maintains its hives, and how beekeepers prepare the hive for the winter.
Van Slyke expects that the beekeeping session and other demonstrations will help to raise participation in other programming at the conservatory, such as the subsequent "Beginning Beekeeping Class" that Matelski will host on Oct. 8. The conservatory typically hosts four programming events per week year round, ranging from art exhibitions to botany workshops to fashion shows.
"One reason why we do these large family-friendly events is to bring in more people to the conservatory and to create a welcoming space," Van Slyke said. "We want people from all over the city to come, but of course we also want our local community to be here and know that this is a place where there's all sorts of activities all year long."
With Saturday forecasted to be bright and sunny, the conservatory expects to accommodate between one and two thousand people at the event. For those who do attend, Van Slyke says she hopes that Harvest Day will showcase the ways that people in the city can still participate in nature despite living in a dense metropolitan area.
"Even though we are here in this major city, there are plants growing yearlong, and people are transforming their urban environment into something that is more nature-focused,” she said.