Applications for Community Action Gardens Now Available

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Applications are now available for participation in the Community Action Gardens, a program that offers residents in Winnebago and Boone counties the opportunity to create neighborhood gardens, increasing access to fresh food for themselves and their neighbors while building strong community ties and promoting good health.
All interested parties must attend one of the following meetings where topics include program basics, available financial assistance and gardening education.

  • Tuesday, February 19 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm or 5:30-7:00 pm
    City Plaza, 555 North Church Street, Room 212

  • Thursday, February 21, 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm
    Boone County Conservation District, 603 North Appleton Road, Belvidere

    Groups in Winnebago and Boone counties who may consider involvement in the garden program include:

  • neighborhoods, schools, faith-based organizations or other groups that are interested in learning gardening skills and are willing to help their community by donating a portion of the produce to area pantries and other organizations serving those in need
  • organizations that collaborate and include in their program education, nutrition, or expanded involvement and outreach to groups such as children, seniors, and veterans
  • neighborhoods and other types of groups that will use the gardens as part of an effort to increase neighborhood and community vitality or unity
  • neighborhood groups that are interested in participating in Farmer’s Markets and using proceeds to support neighborhood based activities such as block parties and cleanups that benefit the entire neighborhood

    A green thumb is not required to be a part of the community gardens as a major focus of the program is learning.

    “You don’t have to be an expert gardener as Extension staff and our Master Gardeners will work with participants to make their gardening experience positive,” stated Margaret Larson, County Director, University of Illinois Extension Jo Daviess, Stephenson and Winnebago Counties. “Our continuing partnership with the program provides us with wonderful opportunities to provide technical expertise, horticulture-related educational opportunities, and bringing resources to the gardeners.”

    In 2012, the Community Action Gardens supported 22 gardens which involved 927 adults and 723 youth volunteers donating over 4,000 volunteer hours. All gardens contributed at least a portion of their produce to Plant A Row for the Hungry or to area food pantries, for a total donation of more than 5,500 pounds of vegetables.

    Cyndie Hall, Executive Director of Neighborhood Network, reports that she “is pleased to see people working together to grow healthy food and create garden spots in their communities” and explained that the program will continue to encourage close ties to neighborhoods in 2013.

    For more information and to request an application, contact Cyndie Hall at 815-967-4034, or Chris Greenwood at 815-967-4039, Applications, which will also be available at the meetings, must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on March 8.

    Community Action Gardens is a collaborative project with the City of Rockford Human Services Department, Neighborhood Network, University of Illinois Extensions and Extension’s Master Gardener volunteers. Funding is provided through City of Rockford Human Services, and Community Services Block Grant fund.

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