I moved to Chicago almost 25 years ago —the pull of City excitement causing me to pack up and move my things to neighborhoods uncharted every year or two. That's a lot of moving!
It wasn’t until I purchased my first home in a condo building in Rogers Park that I caught a glimpse of what community gardening could do for an eclectic group of neighbors. Together we dug out giant overgrown cedars that caused our crabapple trees to grow Cheeto-like growths every summer from cedar apple rust, and collected seeds from purple coneflowers –spreading them to new areas inside and outside the front gate. We grew mint (and made mojitos), harvested tomatoes that we served up for summer salads and planted many flowers that drew bees and butterflies and a smile every time I came home.
So, thinking about the people that I shared this lovely garden with, and the experience that likely changed the course of my career, I would like to highlight some ways in which creating a community garden on the grounds that surround your condo building can help to cement real relationships, create habitat for many insects and birds, and save your association money along the way.
Community gardens can do many things:
- Teach new things: Gardening and learning together is fun, and not only will your community group be rewarded by a beautiful healthy landscape, you will pick up some new skills in the process.
- Build habitat: Even the smallest garden planter can feed a hungry bird or grow a monarch caterpillar – “build it and they will come” can definitely ring true where nature is concerned.
- Add value: A rock-star landscape can increase your property values an estimated 10-15%
- Grow friendships: Working together toward a shared goal can help to forge lasting friendships
- Improve health: Did we mention access to nature is good for your health –lowering stress levels and making people happy :)
How to save money with a condo community garden:
- Implement sustainable plantings: Transitioning from a garden that relies on annuals and other disposable plants to a native habitat garden can save you big money year to year. After your native plants have settled in, the occasional enhancement planting will keep things looking good while saving your association upwards of 75% on planting costs each season.
- Lessen management costs: Get the crew involved –forming a condo community garden group can help to reroute regular maintenance fees to other projects.
- Limit extra materials: Go mulch-free! After the first season, there is no need to haul in resource intensive materials such as compost and mulch. You really will save big $$ with native plants.
NBN can be with you every step of the way —from planning and garden prep, planting, to ongoing stewardship and garden coaching for your community group. We can even share ideas on how to promote your garden events.
Contact us today for an estimate on how a native landscape can benefit your condo association and save you money!