Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Tomatoes

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Big Picture... June 3rd, then August 1st

Tomato Garden August 1st, 2011

New Signs and Sights at G.E.E.E.

Tomato Garden on June 3rd, 2011

Before planting the seedling tomato plants in the boxes and buckets, we hardened the plants by keeping them outside. We grouped them in bags to allow rain and sunlight, but give them some protection from the high winds we've been experiencing.

We wrapped twine around the vines for support. At this time of the season, we're mostly concerned with winds. Later, these will support the thick vines and heavy tomatoes.

We've installed earth boxes unde the main trellis, and a similar design out of 5 gallon buckets.

One Person's Waste is a Pot at G.E.E.E.

Of course, we have pots to grow arugula and basil in.

Seeds from the Chicago Honey Co-Op


Some of the seeds that the volunteers planted at the Big Dig Gig were checked out immediately, but others we have incubated and they are now sprouting.


Allium is a monocot genus of flowering plants, informall referred to as the onion genus. The variety that Marie grows are characterized by their stunning explosion of purple flowers. She brought them in not only to share their beauty, but also to ward off insects in our rooftop tomato garden.

We Are So Bad at Sports

Claudine Isé wrote about us at the website Bad at Sports: Contemporary Art Talk. If you're watching our blog, Claudine, thanks for the kind words, and come back often, especially when the tomatoes are ready to be picked.

Here's the text from her article:


If you’re a avid (albeit amateur) gardener like me, this might be up your alley: G.E.E.E. (aka General Economy Exquisite Exchange 2011) is currently in operation at the Hyde Park Art Center (thru October 1st, 2011). Billed as “a post-retail museum shop and rooftop tomato garden where neighborly value has become the operative currency and creative bartering has become the dominant mode of exchange,” G.E.E.E. is in essence a trading post, where you can bring your own plants, seedlings, or gardening materials to exchange for the ones that are available there. What you exchange doesn’t necessarily have to take the form of physical goods — also welcome are what the folks behind G.E.E.E. (the Cream-Co. Collective) describe as “immaterial support (dialogue, advice, recipes)” — this could take the form of information exchange or even just a good story.

I stopped by G.E.E.E. several weeks ago, and was completely charmed by every aspect of its homespun display — the handmade, hand-lettered signs, the multi-colored array of seedlings, the little ceramic pig where you can leave money for things you want to purchase at cost. I traded a number of gardening books for a chocolate mint plant, which now sits in a pot in my back yard and which I compulsively sniff every time I go outside. All of the offerings are seasonal, so expect the plants, seedlings, and other good stuff to be changed up on a roughly weekly basis.

The thing about G.E.E.E. is that, if you garden, and if you’re even remotely friendly, you already get what G.E.E.E. is all about. I have plants growing in my garden that were given to me by at least three different neighbors on my block, and it’s common for us to swap stories and advice and the occasional embittered gripes about our gardens having too much shade. But what I find most valuable about G.E.E.E. is the way in which it highlights extant social relations, particularly those that occur neighbor-to-neighbor, whether you live next door or call across to each other from your balconies.

Despite the shitty, depressing, grey, cold, seemingly neverending, and did I say shitty? winters in Chicago, I think there is something so truly lovely, and deeply hopeful, about the act of gardening here. I’ve written about my love for the different kinds of gardens you see in this city before. For some reason it’s always the tiniest efforts that seem to make the biggest impact – you know damn well that if Spring and Fall are short-seasoned, you’re not going to get to enjoy the fruits of your labor for all that long, but still you pull the weeds and breathe in the dirt and try and make a happy home for the worms, and you do it because most of all it’s fun, but also because you’re bringing color and scent and texture and order and chaos to life, after so many months of grey, frozen dormancy.

Can you tell that winter hit me kind of hard this year?

At any rate, give G.E.E.E. a visit. I promise it will lift your spirits if you’re feeling low – it made me think of how grateful I am to have nice neighbors, and most of all a garden that’s more than willing to work with me.

This Friday, May 20th, from 3pm – 7pm at HPAC G.E.E.E. will host the grand planting of the Center’s rooftop garden – and you can pick up a trowel and pitch in. The planting also double’s as the exhibition’s official opening. On Friday, your efforts will be rewarded via barbecue, and on the next day, from 10 am – 2pm, there’ll be a garden party to celebrate. Bring stuff to swap or donate – if you have questions or plants to swap, contact For more info, check out the GEEE blog.