Start making those seed orders! Dust off that hoe! Gardening season will soon be upon us and avid green-thumb gardeners are chomping at the bit to get out and get planting. For those who lack the space at their own home, or want to expand what they’re able to grow in their own backyard, the St. Charles Park District Community Garden Plot program is an ideal way to have your kale and eat it, too.
Community gardening does more than provide the gardener with fresh, nutritious produce. Just the act of getting outside and working in the soil brings numerous health benefits – fresh air, sunshine, physical activity chief among them. And let’s not forget that all-important word, “community.” Gardeners grow friendships, too, as they work among other like-minded hobbyists, swapping stories, sharing tips (and the occasional zucchini.) The community at-large also benefits from the fruits – and vegetables! – of their labors. Gardeners can deposit any extra produce at designated drop-off boxes at each location that will then in turn be donated to local charities that help provide fresh produce to those in need. Any plots that have not been reserved by June 1 are available at no cost to gardeners who wish to be a part of this charitable effort, with the harvest from those plots specifically dedicated for donation to charity. In this way, potentially hundreds of pounds of produce each week is made available to participating organizations.
Nearly 500 spaces are available for rent in two park district locations – James O. Breen Community Park and Primrose Farm. Gardeners may elect to register for a plot for annual or perennial plants (those that take more than one year to mature, such as strawberries and fruit trees.) At James O. Breen Park, there are 233 20’x30’ plots available at $40. Primrose Farm boasts 264 plots in two sizes: 15’x30’ for $25 and 30’x30’ for $45.
Registration forms for the Community Garden Plot project are available on the park district’s web site at www.stcparks.org. Returning gardeners who wish to reserve the same space as in previous years may submit their registration between February 3 and March 3. Returning gardeners who would like to reserve a new space may do so between March 6 and 14. Open registration for all new gardeners takes place beginning March 17 at 8am and must be done in person at the Pottawatomie Community Center, 8 North Avenue.
Park district staff will begin rototilling plots for planting on April 1, weather permitting. Throughout the season, the park district mows and trims around the plots and access paths. Water is available at each location for gardeners’ use.
For more information about the community garden plot program, contact Cori Hedlund, Registration Supervisor, at 630-513-4332. Those interested in learning more about the food donation aspect of community gardening may speak with Pam Otto, Manager of Nature Programs and Interpretive Services at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, by phoning 630-513-4346.