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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Garden in the sky

A rooftop garden at the ELCA Chicago offices provides food for those in need

When Job Ebenezer stands at the top of the seven-story concrete parking garage next to the ELCA churchwide offices, he doesn't see empty pavement. Rather he sees full possibilities for feeding those in need.

Five years ago Ebenezer started an urban garden, an easy-to-manage way of turning unused developed space into patches of cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes or other vegetables.

"This actually once was a farm," says Ebenezer, ELCA director for environmental stewardship and hunger education, as a plane crosses overhead on its way for a landing at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. "So many fields have been taken over by urban sprawl. It's a worldwide phenomenon. I wanted to find a way to increase food production, so I asked if I could start a rooftop garden."

Last year Ebenezer's rooftop garden of some 40 wading pools yielded 1,000 pounds of vegetables — including tomatoes, cucumbers and beans — that were donated to AIDS care centers and St. Augustine's Center for American Indians in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood.


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