At giving gardens, food is grown to donate to those in need. Three giving gardens run by University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners (MGs) are in DuPage County, and at a fourth garden, MGs play a key role on site. Production numbers from these projects show donations to local food pantries have been abundant.
At The Community Garden Plots in Naperville, Team Leaders Ron Ory and Jan Gricus guide 28 MG volunteers. Here, giving has been made easy for other community gardeners by providing a produce donation bin where all may contribute to the Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, along with the MGs’ harvest. Gleaning Day was initiated by the team and took place this week. All garden plots were inspected for abandoned produce, which was then gathered by Park District employees, MGs and other volunteers. A total of 4,300 pounds was donated this season.
Loaves & Fishes Community Garden Plot in Naperville is tended by Team Leader Fritz Porter and his team of MGs. So far, 592 pounds of produce have been harvested with the expectation to reap another 60 pounds. A third round of crops was planted in mid-September featuring kale, radishes, spinach and lettuce. Arched frames covered with plastic will keep crops warm as temperatures drop, allowing the garden to keep producing into mid-November.
In Downers Grove, the Heritage Garden is found at Wandschneider Park. Heirloom vegetables are grown to mirror the time when the historic home on site was built. Lead by Peg Knight and Janice Miller, this is the second season for the MGs at the garden.
Miller said, “Everybody is really thrilled at the amount of produce we are able to grow and donate. The pantries we work with are pleased with the fresh produce for their clients.”
The 20' x 25’ Heritage Garden produced 437 pounds of vegetables this year.
The DuPage County Convalescent Center Garden Club has 46 residents who each tend their own 6-foot long garden plot in a wheelchair height raised bed. MGs work alongside, assisting with gardening tasks as part of an extensive horticulture therapy program.
Harvested vegetables are sold to staff and fund an end of the season luncheon. Family and friends receive gifts from the garden, as does The People’s Resource Center Food Pantry, which this year was sent 135 pounds of produce.
“Residents are so often on the receiving end of good deeds that it is very satisfying to them to know their efforts can help others as well,” said Team Leader Linda Kunesh.
Email your home garden and lawn questions to email@example.com or phone the Master Gardener Helpline at 630-955-1123. Visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/.
Julie Moore is a Master Gardener volunteer with the University of Illinois Extension in DuPage County.