Civic Knowledge Project

Division of the Humanities | The University of Chicago

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Timuel D. Black Edible Arts Garden at 5710 S. Woodlawn

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  1. Timuel D. Black and the Plaque honoring him
  2. Masai lion hunting spear
  3. Disease resistant Enterprise apple trees
  4. Blueberry bushes (in large planters made of antique paving stones from Chicago's Maxwell St., circa 1910)
  5. Original sculpture by Walter S. Arnold, Sculptor and Stonemason for the University of Chicago

The University of Chicago Civic Knowledge Project, with the help of many campus and community partners, created the Timuel D. Black Edible Arts Garden at 5710 S. Woodlawn in 2009. In partnership with the students at 5710, CKP dedicated the garden to Timuel Black, one of the South Side's major leaders in the struggle for social justice and the author of Bridges of Memory, three volumes of oral histories from Bronzeville. Prof. Black has emphasized that the garden should carry a positive theme of hope and optimism, that it should reflect both bridges of memory and a message of ascent. The garden as a whole, he urged, should tell a story, preferably one that encourages younger people to talk with the elders, gaining inspiration from their stories.

Thus, the garden has multiple purposes: to promote edible landscaping as beautiful, to honor Timuel D. Black’s work and legacy, and to give modern students and visitors a sense of Bronzeville in its heyday, when it was three or four times as densely populated as the rest of Chicago. This dense population gave it unique culture and community feeling, which is reflected in the garden’s design. The garden features paving stones from Chicago in the early 1900s, pieces of historic South Side buildings, an auditorium chair/planter that was part of the DuSable High School auditorium when it opened in 1936, with Timuel D. Black in attendance, and many other significant historical artifacts.

The food from the garden is donated to a local food pantry. The garden always features late-ripening varieties of blueberries, disease resistant apple trees, a thriving grape vine, kale, chard, greens, and a variety of herbs. Planting edible plants gives city residents the opportunity to eat fresh food and, for the children, a chance to see where their food comes from.

We hope you will stop by 5710 S. Woodlawn to see the garden, which, like social justice, is always growing stronger.

The Timuel D. Blackboard and Planter, constructed out of an original, 1936 auditorium chair from DuSable High School, Timuel D. Black's alma mater.

Gala Opening of the Timuel D. Black Edible Arts Garden

The Prof. Timuel D. Black Bridges of Memory Distinguished Guest Lecture and Jazz Concert

The Civic Knowledge Project would like to thank the following organizations for their contributions to the Timuel D. Black Edible Arts Garden:
DuSable High School, Shore Bank, the Gethsemane Garden Center, Adams and Son Gardens, Kilimanjaro International, Grower's Outlet Co., and Artist & Craftsman Supply.