A press release from the McHenry County Health Department:
Community agencies launch garden with food pantry customers participants learn to grow their own vegetables
WOODSTOCK IL – Hope for nice weather on June 4th!
That is planting day for ten families looking forward to learning how to grow their own vegetables on that Saturday.
Nunda Township has donated part of its Township garden plot to a pilot program launched by the Northern IL Food Bank, University of IL (U of I) Extension and several other community partners, including MCDH.
Dubbed “Garden Connect”, the program joins Crystal Lake Food Pantry patrons interested in garden tips with volunteer gardening experts interested in sharing their know-how.
According to Carol Waggoner, an RN from MCDH and a Garden Connect pilot team member,
“Garden Connect is a win for everyone involved. Not only do families get to keep the food they grow, the coordinating organizations reap the reward of seeing people acquire a multitude of benefits gained by growing and eating vegetables.”
Benefits to Garden Connect participants are many.
Gardening fosters a sense of comradery and community – good old fashioned fun!
Indirect health benefits include fresh air and exercise.
Add to that the sense of accomplishment gained from learning a new skill.
Garden Connect is the brainchild of Shelbi Ball, AmeriCorps Vista Volunteer with the Northern IL Food Bank.
Shelbi reached out to the University of Illinois (U of I) Extension who offered volunteer Master Gardeners to provide their expertise and is supplying nutrition education, including recipes.
Jacqui Hebein, Area Manager, from the Northern IL Food Bank met with the Crystal Lake Food Pantry, who enthusiastically promoted the project to customers.
Also on board is the McHenry County Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).
The MRC is contributing volunteers (medical and non-medical) to help with garden-related tasks and educating gardeners about the health benefits they can expect.
Brenda Dahlfors, Master Gardener Program Coordinator from U of I Extension, said
“Garden Connect is a project in its infancy. We’re excited to be part of the ground floor of this pilot, which we hope to expand to multiple locations next year.
“Our Master Gardeners are thrilled to share their knowledge with participants.
“To paraphrase the old expression
“Give a man a vegetable; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to garden; and you have fed him for a lifetime.”
To learn more about Garden Connect, contact Shelbi Ball at the Northern IL Food Bank. Shelbi can be reached at 708-646-6127.