Mission and History
Igniting the family-grown food revolution by empowering local gardens and networks of neighborhood gardeners. Deepening the knowledge and love of nature to preserve our planet and nurture a lifelong commitment to reverence for life.
Greentown Grows Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and Illinois charitable corporation.
In 1995, a small group of Waukeganites formed the Taskforce On Waukegan Neighborhoods (TOWN), a grassroots citizens’ organization that evolved into a 501(c)(3) corporation. Its mission was to stem urban decay by protecting neighborhoods and connecting neighbors. TOWN provided legal assistance to Waukegan residents, empowering them to clean up blighted properties and to close drug houses. The organization also helped to maintain parks and parkways, held community meetings on urban issues, podcasted shows and interviews of local interest, published investigative reports and other pertinent information on its website (www.waukegan.org). In 1999, TOWN received a Point of Light Service Award from President Clinton, recognizing its “exemplary achievements.”
The organization evolved when GreenTOWN Waukegan began community gardening in Waukegan in 2007 on a vacant city lot at 35 S. Genesee Street. From then until 2015, GreenTOWN installed more flower and vegetable beds, a gazebo, and a walking labyrinth to provide the citizens quality greenspace not only as a place to connect with nature but to provide nutritious fresh vegetables. This flagship project was known as the Madeleine Fuqua Garden.
In 2015, the garden moved to Waukegan Park District property at the Henry Pfau Callahan Park which allowed the organization to expand the production of fresh vegetables. Forty raised beds were installed and maintained by a group of enthusiastic dedicated volunteers, the bounty of which reached over 2000 lbs in both 2016 and 2017, all of it was donated to Community Christian Church of Lake County Food Pantry. This amazing impact on the local food system was recognized by Illinois Park and Recreation Association, the Illinois Association of Park Districts, and the Waukegan Park District with Community Service Awards in 2015 and 2016. Besides raising vegetables, GreenTOWN engages children and adults in the garden through classes on gardening, studying insects and birds, analyzing plant growth and water usage. We also participate in local events to raise awareness of our programs and encourage people to start their own gardens. In 2017 GreenTOWN was also selected as a recipient of the ScottsMiracle-Gro Foundation GRO1000 Grassroots Grant, applauding efforts to improve communities through gardens and greenspaces.
Today the organization has evolved once again to meet the changing needs of the community. We are Greentown Grows, ready to expand gardening across Lake County Illinois. With new exciting projects on the horizon, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media so you won’t miss all the action. Better yet, come join us.