If you drive down McDonough Avenue in , just between the River Valley Justice Center and is a large plot of land owned by the . A couple years ago, officials at the district wanted to offer pieces of this land to community members to create an organic, community garden.
"Since there are no community gardens in the area of that kind, it would be good to have one," Kristen Bernier, member of the committee for the community garden and graphic designer at the park district said.
Although they were unable to get the project off the ground right away because the planting season had passed, this spring, the district was able to begin the program. It has been a great success. In its flagship year, 169 people bought plots. Becca Wlodarczyk and Mike Staley are co-workers. Neither has the ability to garden around their homes. But they have both seen tremendous harvests from what they planted.
"It was a very early spring," Staley said.
Because of that, they both saw yields early, although their tomato plants are still blooming - especially the cherry tomatoes.
Wlodarczyk said not every crop was successful.
"Pumpkins are done," she said. "The bugs ate them."
To celebrate the successful first year, the park district is planning a Harvest Party Potluck from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sept. 9. To prepare for the celebration, though, the district is requesting that volunteers come out and help to clean pathways and improve the common areas.
"We are going to beautify the garden for our party," Bernier said.
The garden clean-up will take place beginning at 9 a.m., Aug. 25. Depending on the number of volunteers, Bernier estimate the clean-up would be done by noon.
If you want to volunteer to help improve the garden, call Bernier at 815-741-7275, Ext. 126.
If you want to attend the garden party on Sept. 9, tickets are $5 per person, include a veggie burger or chicken sandwich and live music by Dog Patch Ramblers, a bluegrass band. To register for the party, call Bernier at the above number.