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Neighbor Garden Is A Vision For Larger Cooperative Movement

Green Acres is a neighborhood which some of its residents envision could be an ecovillage.

Green Acres

Photo: Gretchen Frazee/WFIU News

Green Acres Neighborhood Garden is an urban garden where people who tend to it also share the fruits of their labor.

This is the last in a series on cooperative living in Bloomington, Indiana.

In the summer, in a small garden in Green Acres, just east of Indiana University, is full of tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, basil, onions, radishes, corn, cabbage, strawberries… you get the picture. It us a lot of food.

Ann Kreilkamp owns the garden, but several people in the neighborhood and as well as students from IU’s Permaculture Department tend it, and, in return, share the harvest.

Kreilkamp envisions several similar gardens popping up around the neighborhood and eventually forming the Green Acres Ecovillage.

“What we’re trying to do here is trying to build an ecovillage from what’s already here,” she says. “It’s called a retrofit ecovillage where you use existing structures, and you can have renters and people who own them.”

In her vision, neighbors would help each other garden and share the fruits – and vegetables — of their labor with everyone involved. Basically, a large-scale version of what she’s already doing.

“Eventually I would like to see in 30 years, the whole neighborhood is an ecovillage, with zoning laws having changed so you can have small businesses inside it,” she says.

Kreilkamp is petitioning the Bloomington Zoning Commission to change its laws so she can operate her garden without being afraid of overstepping the law. The Bloomington Planning Department says it is taking all the zoning requests on a case by case basis.

Jim Ollis, a student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is staying in Bloomington for a few weeks as a part of his permaculture studies. He says Bloomington is ripe for this type of community living because it has a lot of land that can be used for small-scale gardening.

“Communities like Bloomington have a much easier potential and much easier transition than places like Philadelphia in the city because the land is wide open, the land is readily available,” he says.

Kreilkamp says she hopes people like Ollis will take inspiration from her work, leave Bloomington and begin similar projects throughout the U.S.

“Because we are a university town you have people constantly moving through,” she says. “So the type of governing you have to do is really educational so they will learn how to do it and then they’ll move and do it somewhere else.”

Her dream, she says, would be to see her grandchildren living in a world that is sustainable and lives in sync with nature’s cycles. Krielkamp says, she thinks they will.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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