Applications for Community Action Gardens now available

• Informational meeting Feb. 21, application deadline March 8

Online Staff Report

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.

Interested parties must attend the following meeting where topics include

Program basics, available financial assistance and gardening education will be discussed at a meeting at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 21, at Boone County Conservation District, 603 N. Appleton Road, Belvidere, Ill.

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

• 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; and

• neighborhood groups that are interested in participating in farmers’ 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,” said Margaret Larson, county director of the 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 that involved 927 adults and 723 youth volunteers donating more than 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.

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

Posted Feb. 20, 2013

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