Spring Has Sprung….Local Community Gardens, Herb Sales & More….

This week we are focusing on the larger local food picture. Through our Greenhouse Project and the blog, we have connected with loads of locals who embody the urban farm spirit. It seems that Berwyn, Forest Park and Oak Park each have unique offerings to help fledgling urban gardeners get a leg up on the local movement. Both Berwyn and Forest Park are launching amped up Community Garden programs this year and Oak Park is already known for its Farmer’s Market. Also, what has become an annual annual tradition for our home garden, the Oak Park Conservatory’s Annual Herb & Plant sale. In this entry we get in depth with our local gardening brigade and bring you the highlights of the upcoming season and details on opportunities to participate in volunteer initiatives, claiming your own plot, classes, sales and more. Oh, and we are still working at breakneck speed to open our doors to you soon.

As a Berwyn business focused on such things, we were thrilled to here about the expanded community garden initiative headed by local businessman Jose Ramirez in conjunction with The Berwyn Park District. Their goal is simple, to create, support and promote community gardening within the City of Berwyn, IL. The partnership between the Park District and the Community Gardens Project is designed to help develop and maintain plots of land that will be made available to Berwyn residents. The residents will be able to rent out these plots seasonally for their gardening needs. Contact information and forms to acquire a plot are available via the organizations Facebook page which can be found here. The gardens are located at Serenity Park (26th and Wesley) and are about 1/2 rented for the season, so if you are interested act now!

We have also been fortunate enough to have met by Debbie Kong, a supporter of our greenhouse initiative, who is heading the St. John’s Community Garden in conjunction with the school, parish leadership and ideally the larger Forest Park Community. Debbie is wholly qualified to lead this initiative as she will complete the Master Gardener program at U of I Extension this May. She has also been traveling and training teachers and healthcare workers how to set up gardens, build, manage and sustain them and of course evangelizing the many benefits of urban gardening. She is passionate about her work and quite inspirational.

Regarding the St. John’s Community Garden, here are some specifics. The Garden is being built on Sunday, April 30th at 305 Circle Avenue in Forest Park beginning at 8:30 am and volunteers are welcome! The goal is to build 12 raised beds (4’x8′) and if there is a need/interest to increase the size of the garden, the Pastor of St. John’s (Pastor Payton) would be only to happy to do so. The gardeners are people in the local community Forest Park area, parishioners of St. John’s church, and they’ve reached out to the Forest Park food pantry patrons too. If you want to participate you can e-mail Debbie directly at dkong@kongster.com. She also plans to host gardening classes and supporting the gardeners at St. John’s throughout the summer season. Some of the topics for potential classes are; seed sowing, warm & cold season crops, organic vs. inorganic gardening, companion planting and more. All classes will be open to the local community. Sounds like an exciting endeavor and we will share more info on her class series at it becomes available.

Last but not least, a few words on the Herb & Plant Sale a the Oak Park Conservatory host by FOPCON their fundraising arm. The 22nd Annual Plant Sale at the Conservatory will be held Friday, May 6 from 1:00 – 7:00 pm for members only (you can join the that day) and Saturday, May 7 from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm for the general public.

Plants for sale include a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers. The overwhelming majority of the plants for sale are grown in the Conservatory greenhouses. Plants for sale include a wide variety of tomatoes, culinary and ornamental herbs, shade plants & ground cover and flowers. Both annual and perennial varieties are represented. There is a plethora of options for containers, beds, community gardens and more. The catalog for this year’s sale complete with all offerings and loads of helpful gardening tips can be downloaded in PDF form here.

So here is to a greener future in the near West burbs. Happy planting!