Youth Center’s Vegetable Roof Garden Provides Food for Children in Chicago

Sourced from Inexhibit

American design firm Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects has transformed the terrace of an education center in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods into a large rooftop vegetable garden which also provides organic food to the school’s kitchen.

The 8000-square-foot roof garden entirely occupies the terrace above the gymnasium of the Gary Comer Youth Center, built after a design by John Ronan Architects in 2006 in Greater Grand Crossing, one of Chicago’s most blighted neighborhoods.

The Gary Comer Youth Center was founded to provide education and employment opportunities – in sectors including technology, music, visual arts, agriculture, and culinary arts – to young people aged 10-18 many of whom are coming from impoverished families and are at risk of being involved in crime and violence.

The center’s vegetable garden was primarily created for two reasons.

First, to be an educational resource inspired by the STEM principles, which advocate a technical-scientific education based on an interdisciplinary approach combined with real-world applications.

At the same time, it was designed as a real source of food, which every year produces some 1,000 lbs of organic vegetables for the center’s kitchen, four local restaurants, as well as for selling at special Farmers’ Market events. Furthermore, horticultural classes integrate with the Gary Comer Youth Center culinary arts programs.

Another important element is that the view of the garden, which is surrounded on all sides by a circulation corridor and classrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, contributes to the psychological well-being of students and educators, thus creating a coherent and synergic combination of architecture and landscape design.

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