AMLI Residential is bringing all the benefits of farmers markets right to its renters’ backyards.
The Chicago-based developer and manager has partnered with The Organic Gardener, a locally based company that develops custom organic edible gardens, to introduce gardens with produce and herbs to two AMLI communities in the Windy City. The crops, which include everything from basil to eggplants and tomatoes, are harvested biweekly for residents at AMLI River North and AMLI Deerfield.
“The edible gardens at these two AMLI locations produce delicious, nutrient-dense organic vegetables and herbs, allowing residents to enjoy hyper-local foods grown right outside their doors,” says The Organic Gardener founder Jeanne Nolan. “For apartment dwellers who often crave a connection to the environment, the garden also serves to add a bit of nature into these urban and suburban communities.”
Younger households have led to an uptick in community gardening activity in urban areas where green space can be scarce. According to the National Gardening Association, 2 million more households are engaging in community gardening, an increase of 200%, since 2008.
Educators from The Organic Gardener are on-site every two weeks from spring to fall to harvest the crops with residents and teach them about the plants and how to grow them. The team harvests the herbs and food, which residents can take from a basket in the lobby, but Nolan says the residents have been enthusiastic about participating in the process in a more interactive way.
“When we first started at AMLI River North, for example, young residents, particularly, loved using kale to make green smoothies, so we showed them the proper way to harvest the greens on their own,” she says.
In addition to nutritious food, the edible garden amenity brings sustainability and social benefits to residents. So the growing trend should only continue to take off in urban developments among residents who want both a vibrant city lifestyle and a nature-focused environment.
“I think that as more and more people aim to incorporate elements of healthy, sustainable living into their hectic, fast-paced lives, the on-site edible garden will be an increasingly sought-after amenity for developers to offer to apartment dwellers,” says Nolan.