Help Make this Mobile Garden on a Subway Train a Reality

by , 08/31/10

mobile garden, art, joseph baldwin, cta, train, eco art, garden, urban green space, gardening, green design, eco design

When we first saw this amazing mobile subway garden, we were floored – but then we realized that it doesn’t exist yet. That’s right, the green art project for Chicago is still being worked on, and there is a chance that without additional funding it might not become a reality. The basic gist of the installation is a native plant garden that would live right on top of the rolling stock of a CTA train. If you want to see the mobile garden come to fruition, visit this link and let them know!

+ Mobile Garden Chicago

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  1. noisivelvet September 4, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Hi Sarah P,

    So the CTA does have to decrease the number of cars. Despite the rendering above looking like the garden will travel in the front it would actually be positioned in the middle. If the CTA didn’t subtract a train car then some stations passengers wouldn’t be able to enter or exit from certain cars because of the platform size. The same logic appears in reality every winter during the Holiday Train that the CTA puts on track. So since the flat car is significantly weighing less than a full train car my first guess is that it might be at least neutral – though this is something I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of as well and the information is very difficult to access through the busyness of the CTA and collecting the data. I submitted the question to them this past Spring.

    The interior of the other train cars will have lots of native plant information. I take to heart that people could go there but that is for folks with more affluence to have leisure time, this garden truly reaches people because it is a part of the commute of the working class, students, and tourist as well.

    I hope more of these details will help – the web site is in the process of being redesigned — answering questions like this on sites is certainly helpful and I totally appreciate you asking the questions that I’m sure are lurking in others minds as well :)


  2. sarah_p September 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    as someone who lives in Chicago, takes the train and loves greenspace, something like this should resonate with me but i don’t get it.

    in responding to vanillaface’s energy point you said this would be somehow a decrease in energy. unless there are so many plants that it\’s carbon negative to the extent that it offsets the energy required to pull an extra 20k pounds i’m not sure how you can possibly make that claim. the CTA certainly isn’t going to run with one less passenger car than normal to make up for the garden so it will certainly be adding weight. and of course there are construction costs to consider in the energy calculation. not to mention the labor/maintenance on the CTA’s part to make sure the garden car is where it’s supposed to be.

    while i don’t know if i’d agree with xsimpletunx that it’s greenwashing, it certainly isn\’t *green* since it’s carbon positive. i’m not even entirely sure what the green message is.

    the lurie garden in millenium park has local plants with information that people can walk through and learn about at their leisure.

    i understand bringing greenspace to people but this seems like a carbon intensive way to do it and i’m not sure of the message or benefit of doing so since no one could physically interact with the garden or even view it for more than a few seconds.

    perhaps hearing more details on the scope or intended impact of the project would help since those are missing from your website.

  3. walt disney September 2, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Why not with vegetables? They can grow during transportation and be sold when they reach their destination!

  4. noisivelvet September 1, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Vanillaface, As organizer of this project I’d like you you to know that the project is only proposed for 1 month, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at this time. Did you know that a single empty CTA train weights 54,000 lbs? Considering the times that the CTA is proposing we run the car from/to we would be using off peak/less full train times and it would actually be a decrease in energy spent in a train line already being run.

    xsimpletunx, this is not greenwashing. this is first an art installation, that has been independently proposed and took me 1.5 years to even get the CTA to answer my calls/letters, let alone approve the project to move forward under conditions that any nfp artist would cringe at. Secondly I am genuinely interested in sustainable materials and promoting the use of native plants as the message behind the installation.

    I hope these answers fulfill your questions and doubts. This project is a good idea and needs financial help. Period.

  5. xsimpletunx September 1, 2010 at 9:50 am

    now this is just going too far and is imply green washing at its best. the energy required to tow around an extra car would far outweigh any benefit from the garden. sorry, this one is just silly.

  6. vanillaface September 1, 2010 at 6:52 am

    While it’s a neat idea, has anyone considered just how much energy will be wasted in schlepping that thing around town 24/7?

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