According to FeedingAmerica.org, “People who live in rural areas often face hunger at higher rates, in part because of the unique challenges living remotely presents:

  • 2.2 million households in rural communities face hunger;
  • Rural communities make up 63% of counties in the United States and 87% of counties with the highest rates of overall food insecurity;
  • 86% of the counties with the highest percentage of children at risk for food insecurity are rural; and
  • Poverty is worse in rural communities than in urban communities. In 2019, 13.3% of all people in rural areas lived below the poverty line compared to 10% of people in urban areas.”

Community gardens help a region by increasing consumption of fresh vitamin-rich foods that support and enhance healthy living to all residents. But, starting a community garden can feel overwhelming. You may wonder where to start? Extension has worked with communities for over 10 years developing community gardens and want to share our expertise with you.

Illinois Extension Educator Dr. Laurie George will outline the process, step by step, in a virtual workshop on January 20 from 1 to 2 p.m. Dr. George will explain how to secure land, volunteers, community support, and zoning, giving you the confidence to establish a successful garden. Participants will also learn how to organize a planning committee and avoid common mistakes.

You could choose to establish a volunteer-managed donation garden where produce is donated directly to food pantries and families in need, or you could provide space for families to grow their own food. Extension resources will be available to make either model successful.

We have staff and active Master Gardeners who can assist with education on growing, harvesting, storing, cooking, weed control, and management of disease and insects. We will also share a design for easy-to-build, economical, long-lasting raised beds that will provide defined garden space for any sunny location.

Registration is required. Please register by January 19 at https://extension.illinois.edu/bcjmw.

Join us on January 20 and share this information with others who may be interested in starting a community garden. Contact Gail DeVilbiss at 618-526-4551 or devilbis@illinois.edu, or Chris Lueking at 618-242-0780 or lueking@illinois.edu with any questions you may have.