Amy Rule- Chicago’s Kibbutz
By Cleo Lampos
The word, kibbutz, comes from the Hebrew language with one of its meanings, “make desert bloom.” That is exactly why Chicago needs to have a miniature kibbutz in every backyard, empty lot, easement or rooftop. Chicago is a food desert. Many people in the urban areas have no access to fresh produce. Those who can find the vegetables and fruits pay hefty prices for kale, cucumbers, tomatoes or radishes. Organic food that can easily be grown in raised beds, containers or in the ground. Amy Rule decided to have a garden put into the backyard of her North Side home to raise produce with a food mileage measured in feet and inches as well as to expose her children to a natural way of eating.
According to Amy Rule, “Good food is worth its weight in gold these days-we should all be lucky enough to grow it.”1 Amy Rule grew up in the lush green of Ohio where her dad sold equipment for green houses. With her sister, Amy planted and tended a garden, feeling the dirt on her hands and the priceless food in her basket. The importance of raising edible food in a garden filled with the colors from zinnias, snapdragons and cosmos seemed logical to Amy Rule, the wife of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. With the aid of Jeanne Nolan, The Organic Gardener, Amy and her children created a garden with vegetables and herbs, berries , a pear tree, and splashes of eye pleasing flowers. She enjoys sharing that her children walk outside in their bare feet and pajamas to get berries for their cereal, or herbs and veggies for omelets. Even Rahm Emanuel is pleased with this earthy venture. “Just what I always wanted- a kibbutz in my backyard!”2 Rahm exclaimed when he saw it for the first time. A desert blooming. In Chicago.
Gardens bring nature right into our living spaces, whether a back yard or a balcony. What would happen if all of the urban areas started to turn green with organic matter? Wouldn’t we all breathe easier? And eat a lot healthier? Life can change in Chicago, one container or raised bed at a time.
1. Page 246, From the Ground Up:A Food Grower’s Education in Life, Love and the Movement That’s Changing the Nation, by Jeanne Nolan, Spiegel and Grau, New York, 2013
2. Page 247
I met Jeanne Nolan when she signed her book after her lecture in the Evergreen Park Library. The book is a great read on three levels: how to garden, philosophy of organic gardening and a memoir with a heart melting love story. The book is a page turner filled with lots of thought provoking information. Anyone else want to join the Grow Your Own Food Movement?