Have you ever tasted peas right off the vine? Or bit into a perfectly ripened sweet pepper or tomato from your backyard? If you have never experienced the incredible taste of homegrown vegetables, you are missing out.
What if home gardens were in every neighborhood?
Sadly, this is not the case, but our mission at Greentown Grows is to ignite a local food revolution. One where citizens are empowered with the knowledge and tools to grow their food. Our Home Garden Program seeks to expand the number of home growers by installing gardens at private homes and pairing each homeowner with a Garden Mentor for the next 3 years. We aim to create lifelong gardeners who can inspire and teach their friends and family.
This year, six new gardens were installed in the greater Waukegan area!
Applications received in the spring are evaluated for the program. The yard must have a suitable location with sufficient hours of sunlight. Our staff visits each applicant to see if the yard can accommodate a garden and review potential sites with the homeowner. Once the applicant is accepted into the program, a date is scheduled for installation.
The installation process is straightforward. First, heavy paper is laid down as a weed barrier (to kill the grass), and a 4’x8′ wood frame is constructed.
Once the frame is filled, the most exciting part begins – planting! The Garden Mentor works with the family to choose seeds and seedlings for the vegetables they like. Greentown Grows maintains a comprehensive seed inventory along with seedling donations from Valent Biosciences and Mary’s Greenhouse in Gurnee. Seed Savers Exchange donates a portion of our seeds.
One crucial part of the instruction is learning the proper watering technique. Even young children quickly learn to water at the roots of a plant instead of watering the whole plant. Keeping the leaves dry reduces the development of fungus, such as powdery mildew, which reduces growth and sometimes kills the plant.
Greentown Grows wishes to thank the volunteers from Valent Biosciences, the City of Waukegan, and our staff who donated their time to help their neighbors. This program would not exist without the generous donation of soil from DK Organics in Lake Bluff. Their gift allows these gardens to begin with rich organic soil, ensuring healthy, vigorous plant growth.