Photos: An edible garden in Oak Park

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Taron Pellettieri, 9, opens the wood box and deposits food scraps for hungry worms.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly where life begins in the Pellettieri-Molony garden but the worms are a good place to start to understand the cycle.

The food scraps, much of which came from the garden, make the worms produce waste that enriches the soil that allow plants to grow.

But the plants work, too. Corn, beans and squash grown together build fertility in the soil. Borage, which produces fuzzy stems and a delicate purple flower, attract bees to pollinate crops.

Fruits and vegetables provide food. There's even a plant the family grows to make a salve for irritated skin.

The family of four then returns the discarded stems, leaves and uneaten bits to the garden for compost, food for three chickens, which provide eggs and manure, and, of course, food for the worms.

Oh and don't forget to water.

Pellettieri and his wife, Eileen Molony, have created a complex ecosystem known as Permaculture at their Wenonah Avenue home. "When I think about it, the goal is to get three uses out of anything I do," said Mark Pellettieri, an architect who first learned about Permaculture in California. "You think about how it effects the earth, how it effects people and share anything you can. As you connect everything together and find multiple uses, you can't help but feel a part of that connectedness."

To learn more about Permaculture, join the Sugar Beet Cooperative's Edible Garden Tour Saturday, where the Pellettieri-Molony garden will be featured. Information about tickets can be found online at

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