Mayor Daley Didn't Answer My Question

Organic Rooftop Farm dedication ceremony Mayor Daley Natalie Pfister Helen and Mike Cameron.png

L-R: Helen Cameron, Mayor Daley, Natalie Pfister Mike Cameron

Back in June I visited the organic rooftop farm at Uncommon Ground on Devon and after visiting it I asked Natalie Pfister, the farm’s Director, if a couple of local garden bloggers could visit it on July 11th. After scheduling the private tour I received word our visit had to be postponed because they had just secured Mayor Daley’s participation in the rooftop farm’s dedication ceremony. We got bumped for Hizzoner, but on the plus side we were invited to attend the dedication ceremony, so we could still see the rooftop farm after all, sort of. 

The dedication ceremony for the rooftop farm went really well and featured several speakers, including Mayor Daley. I posted on Twitter that there were more reporters than bees at the rooftop farm that morning, just look at part of the scene.

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There was a lot of talk about how inspirational the rooftop farm is, and with good reason, but I already knew that and that was why I had scheduled a tour of it so a couple of friends could see it for themselves. Just how inspirational is the organic rooftop farm?

The rooftop farm is so inspirational that it didn’t stop this man, who was there with a television program, from attending the ceremony even though he had a wound that was openly bleeding.

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After the speakers were done they opened it up to questions and I managed to get one in. I’ve been curious why in a year that Victory Garden spring up across the country and world, why Chicago didn’t participate.

The answer I got after asking why there was no Victory Garden at City Hall was classic Mayor Daley. It sorta answered the question while at the same time dismissing it. I was told that the City had a lot of gardens and something to the effect of “we have one in Grant Park,” a reference to a kitchen garden located in Grant park. I may not be the smartest tool in the shed, but I’m smarter than I look and I know that, while really awesome, the kitchen garden in Grant Park isn’t a Victory Garden.

In previous years Mayor Daley has faced criticism by people who don’t appreciate so much time and resources being devoted to greening efforts. I’ve been involved in numerous arguments with people who don’t see the benefits of parks and public planters and who take the Mayor’s appreciation of gardening and use it as a tool to emasculate him. Not so much this year. 2009 has seen an increase in people taking up gardening, in particular vegetable gardening, and an increase in demand at Chicago’s food banks and the year Chicagoans, of all stripes, needed some of this inspiration I heard so much about at the dedication ceremony of the organic rooftop farm. I have my own suspicions about why Mayor Daley missed the boat this year and they’re centered around so much attention being devoted to the Olympic bid, but it isn’t too late there is still a lot that can be planted in July and August and a late season Victory Garden to inspire Chicagoans is better than no Victory Garden at all.

Here is a short video I made and posted to YouTube from the visit in June.

On Fridays Uncommon Ground is Host to a farmers market that has a really festive vibe to it. I’d recommend checking it out if you are in the area. Other local garden bloggers who attended the dedication ceremony and who have posts on it include Growing in Chicago, My Skinny Garden  and Garden Girl.


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  • Can't find anything online about the kitchen garden in Grant Park (which I didn't know about). Are there links or pictures? Also, I didn't know there is a difference between a kitchen garden and a Victory Garden-- I'd love to see a post about it! But I agree about the need for more backyard and community gardens in Chi. As far as I'm concerned every school (in America) should have a vegetable garden and a summer program for kids to tend it. I've been trying to figure out how to turn that into a job for me!

  • Xan,

    I've been meaning to do a post on it so I'll add some pics soon. I think this year they started a program where they were installing gardens at CPS, I'll ask around and will post the link here if I can find it again.

  • Thanks for this informative post. I like to keep up with what's happening in my home town, even though I reside on the left coast: I'm interested in eco-roofs, victory gardens, and in general, the greening of urban areas.

    I had just replied 2 days ago to someone's query on Twitter, when I discovered your post.
    My tweet had focused on Mayor Daley's efforts at greening the city, resulting in, to my mind, a positive effect on tourism and business travel.

    But am I surprised that a politician took the long way around, perhaps a detour, in answering your question? Not really. Thanks again for the info on Common Ground. Maybe da Mayor will get da message about Victory Gardens. Alice Joyce

  • In reply to AliceJoyce:

    Hi Alice,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it. And Xan is right about the official logo. LOL.

  • In reply to AliceJoyce:

    Little did I know! Thanks for the heads-up!

  • BTW Funny, but instead of picking up the avatar I downloaded, the site gave me an image of a pothole with conehead cover. AJ

  • Emptied cache file... all is right with the world.

  • AJ-- that's Chicago's official logo. ;)

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