The first part of our year in review focuses on one of our programs – Community Outreach.
Thanksgiving offers a moment to reflect on and be grateful for our many blessings over the past year. In the case of Greentown Grows, it’s been a very bountiful year indeed! With news reports of rising inflation and not-so-distant memories of bare shelves during the pandemic, people and organizations began to entertain the idea of growing their food this year. Why spend money on produce trucked in from thousands of miles away when it could be grown in your backyard for free? Right? We are honored organizations in the greater Waukegan area turned to us to assist with their gardening aspirations and are grateful we were able to meet the challenge.
Thanks to DK Organics, maker of the finest compost in Lake County, and other community partners such as Prairie Wind Family Farm, Tempel Farm Organics, Mary’s Greenhouse, Gurnee Garden Center, Burr Oaks Greenhouse, and Valent Biosciences for providing us with free compost and seedlings to meet the unprecedented demand. Their abundant support allowed us to start or improve gardens with the following organizations:
- Youth Conservation Corps (17 raised beds)
- One Hope United – Busy Bee Children’s Center (8 raised beds)
- Boys and Girls Club of Lake County (2 locations – 8 raised beds)
- Cool Learning Experience (2 raised beds)
- Waukegan Public Library (6 raised beds)
Soil quality was enhanced by DK Organics donating a whopping 20 cubic yards for the above gardens and Art from the Waukegan Township Public Works department delivering to these sites for free. Greentown Grows also donated lumber for one of the raised beds at the Waukegan Public Library to help them expand their “Digging in the Dirt” program for children. Extra seedlings made their way into the community through these organizations.
Another key to gardening success is our dedicated Garden Mentors, Sandy and Linda. They met the challenge by providing hands-on education and consulting to Youth Conservation Corps, One Hope United, Cool Learning Experience, and Waukegan Public Library.
We received positive feedback from the Boys and Girls Club of Lake County about their successful harvest. The children enjoyed eating the vegetables; thankfully, the gardens were abundant enough to allow staff members to take some home. One person said they had so many tomatoes they begged people to take as many as they wished. Youth Conservation Corps said the beds were beautifully planted and productive throughout the season. Growing potatoes was a new experience for the youth, and they were surprised by the bountiful harvest.
Greentown Grows held a container gardening class for home-based families at One Hope United – Busy Bee Children’s Center. We provided all the materials, including potting mix, seedlings, and instructions, to grow “Salsa in a Bag.” Black cloth grow bags were planted with jalapenos, tomatoes, and cilantro by each mother to take home. There is a growing need for gardening in small spaces, like apartment patios. Given the positive feedback from One Hope United, we are considering expanding container gardening classes in 2023.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the generous support of our volunteers and donors. Our mission is to empower people to take charge of their food through gardening. Now, more than ever, expanding gardening is a way to work with our community partners to build stronger, healthier families.
Best Thanksgiving wishes to you and your family.