Potager: French Kitchen Garden

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The potager garden is the counterpart to the English kitchen garden and different than a Victory Garden. Victory Gardens date back to World War I and World War II and were planted in an effort to reduce the demand on the public food supply and were also propaganda to boost the morale of the nations affected by being at war. The potager garden predates Victory Gardens even though they both emphasis growing vegetables they are different.

Tomato, tomahto.

When I asked Mayor Daley why Chicago didn’t place an emphasis on Victory Gardens, like the rest of the world did this year, he mentioned that we had one in Grant Park. Unless, I’m completely mistaken; he was talking about this garden. The kitchen garden in Grant Park, really a mini-farm, is a project by Growing Power, a national nonprofit organization and land trust that focuses on urban agriculture.

This kitchen garden contains 150 heritage and heirloom varieties of
vegetables, edible flowers, culinary and medicinal herbs. During a
recent talk with Michael Thompson, the Farm Director for the Chicago
Honey Co-Op, he told me that the garden was designed by Bill Shores,
who manages Rick Bayless’ urban garden/farm. I took a trip out to Grant Park today to photograph this garden after Xan asked for pictures in a comment in a previous post.

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I really like the use of companion plantings. I believe that the dark red Nasturtium is “Empress of India” and the leaves are very dark in person. I’ve bought seeds for it over the years and every source has been mislabeled.

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They’re growing corn in the containers.

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Love the bamboo tepees painted blue that the peas are growing on.

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These photos don’t do this place justice, so if you have the time get out and walk around the vegetable garden and see it in person. It looks amazing right now.


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  • An awful lot has changed in the decade since I moved West. This garden looks lovely, and it appears unprotected/fenced/or?
    Apparently no vandalism. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to think it's being respected.

  • In reply to AliceJoyce:


    There is no fence or anything around it. Out in the open, not even protected from the rabbits, which were plentiful when I went today.


    I'm wondering the same thing. I'm going to see if I can find out about that paint.

    Thank you both for visiting and commenting.

  • In reply to AliceJoyce:

    Thanks MBT, I didn't know about his, although it appears to be directly across from my old offices on Michigan Avenue. This seems like a perfect place for a Chicago-area MyFolia meet up! I also love that it's unfenced-- I've thought about that alot, as I often wonder at friends who tell me that they can't have a garden because they have no sun, when they have an entire full sun FRONT yard-- just plant there! Maybe they're worried about theft?

    There are acres and acres of arable plots in any city that could be farmed, one parkway at a time.

  • In reply to naxn:


    You're welcomed. I had been meaning to make a post on it anyways, but my pics didn't come out too good so thanks for the prompt to go back out there. It would be a nice place for a meetup wouldn't it? You're right about all the available spaces around here.

    garden Faerie,

    The day you, me and SSGardenGirl went to the foutain we walked past this on the way back to Michigan Ave in search of lunch. But all they had was the blue tepees.

  • In reply to naxn:

    I remember passing the garden early this spring before it was planted. It looks gorgeous now. Kudos to Bill Shores.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    It really does and on cloudy days like the day I was there the colors just pop.


    That's a nice one too.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    I had occasion to visit/have a tour of this garden over the summer as part of an internship. The staff is incredibly talented and dedicated - I don't think I could stand waking up at 4am 8 months+ out of the year to go pick veggies! There are just some limits I haven't crossed yet! ha! The design is GREAT! I have some amazing pictures as well from earlier in the summer... IF I can find them on my computer ha.

  • In reply to bfuta:

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for signing up to comment. If you find your pics feel free to add them to the Chicago Gardeners flickr pool. You can find it on the sidebar. Would love to see them.

  • In reply to naxn:

    Nice, reminds me of another potager, also currently growing:

  • In reply to AliceJoyce:

    Hmmm, did we miss that in Grant Park?? I can see I need to come back to Chicago. I also thought potager meant growing veggies and herbs in among annuals, perennials, instead of in a separate bed.

  • Wow this is gorgeous. I love the blue teepees especially, so perfect with the deep orange of the nasturtiums. I wonder what paint they used for the bamboo.

    Agree with Alice, it is lovely that this is a public garden.

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