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Square Foot Gardening By Donna Hisson

I first discovered square foot gardening a little over 10 years ago. We had moved into a new house with a larger yard and up until that point, I had been planting my vegetable gardens the same way my parents had planted theirs. Rows straight, wide walkways and plants definitely not touching, as if they were afraid the vegetables would start whining like their kids did when crammed into the back seat of the car. I had also been disappointed in my past garden yields. For all the work I was putting in, I’d get a few vegetables and more weeds than I could keep up with. I decided there had to be a better way, so I started reading whatever I could find on gardening. In that search, I came across an article on Square Foot Gardening and its author Mel Bartholomew. I purchased the book and started reading.

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Get to know our Programs Manager

 I started volunteering with GardenWorks in 2015 after a friend suggested the organization knowing I was looking for more volunteer opportunities I could do with my young kids. The first year we volunteered we did a garden refresh. My kids were two and four and loved planting and watering the garden for the client. They love to volunteer each season and are professional garden builders now.  After a couple seasons of doing builds, I took on more volunteering by becoming a lead and the following year started doing some behind the scenes data entry.

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On-Going Fall Harvests

A volunteer checked in with our Bridge Community garden clients recently and all their gardens are doing great! Check out these great looking vegetables!

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Supplies for 2019

First round of seeds for our 2019 Clients and Members arrived today, courtesy of Renee’s Seeds! 

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Park View Donations

One of our community support program participants for this year, Park View School in Lombard, has been tracking how much they have grown. So far this season they have weighed 91 pounds of produce for students to taste and support their hungry neighbors, 23 pounds just this week has gone to the local food pantry! 

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Community Gardens in Hanover Park

Our Community Gardens are a part of our Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative in the Greenbrook Tanglewood Community in Hanover Park. Neighborhood Revitalization (NR) is the practice of working with residents and communities to take a holistic approach to community reinvestment. Through this process our team has worked with residents to gain feedback on which aspects of their community needed improvement. Once we had the core areas identified, we worked with residents to see how we could achieve those improvements. The Community Gardening program was developed out of the need that residents wanted a community space to come together to achieve something for others, and not just themselves, as well as a way to enhance the greenspaces in their community. Due to the generosity of The GardenWorks Project, we have been able to create three community garden spaces throughout the Greenbrook Tanglewood Community over the past two years.

The first garden is located behind the Tanglewood Clubhouse, a central location in the neighborhood. This garden was planted with a Youth group, and is maintained and watered by children in the Hanover Park Community Resource Coalition Summer Camp. Through this camp, the children are taught the importance of having a garden, as well as how to make healthy snacks based on what they can pick from the garden. This garden is flourishing, and we cannot wait to start harvesting the vegetables that we have grown.

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The Planting Season Continues

Thank you Ball Horticultural for the generous donation of plants!!! We have a late season community build that these plants will look gorgeous in! 

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Domtar at Glendale Heights Build

Thank you to our corporate sponsor Domtar for helping us build, de-weed and refresh gardens in Glendale Heights today.

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So Many Seedlings!

The majority of our seedlings have arrived! Sorting for this weekends client builds began this morning! 

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My Volunteer Experience

I first joined The Gardenworks Project, hoping to learn about gardening in the Midwest, after moving here from across the country. My hope came true, tenfold!

For our first garden, we planted in large pots. I never knew that you could grow plants such as lettuce and kale in pots. We yielded more than enough for our family! I attended informative workshops held at The GardenWorks Project Resource Center in West Chicago. It was there that I learned about the Food Growers Network and the benefits of becoming a member. One of which is being able to pick out twenty seed packets from a huge variety of donated seeds.

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Another Season at Gardenworks

Marching into Spring

I don't know about you, but for me, when the calendar turns to March I feel Spring is right around the corner, no matter what it looks like outside! It makes it even more real when you start seeing the beginnings of buds on trees, tiny green shoots in some flower beds, and even some weeds starting to grow in sunny areas.

During the winter months, I've heard of some ambitious people who look through seed catalogs to figure out what varieties they'll plant next season or others who have even started their own seedling propagations inside using trays, heat lamps and pads. I've never quite had the space indoors to do any of that (or the time and energy!) I'm more like a good ol' perennial that goes dormant in the winter, saving all my resources for the long cold days ahead. But, in March I start to wake-up and start dreaming of what I'd like this growing season to look like in my garden.

 

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What Brings You Back to the Garden

Maybe it’s the slow melt of those dirty snow banks that have guarded the edges of the road for the last two months. Or perhaps it’s the smell of old leaves and earthworms, preparing and restoring the soil underneath for another year of growth. It might be the seed catalogs that have been piling up this winter, teasing you for another great summer harvest. Or maybe it’s a memory that continues to draw you back to another season of challenging days of watering and weeding. We all have different reasons. What brings you back to the garden?

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