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Community garden brings residents together to grow food and friendships

June 14, 2016

 

Amy Green couldn’t imagine gardening at her home in Glenview, but this year she expects to harvest eight tomato varieties in plots she shares with a friend at the Wagner Farm Community Garden.

 

“We have them all year long,” she said.

 

Wagner Farm is home to an organic community garden that holds 108 plots, including Green’s. Alyssa Tadelman, Wagner Farm Community Garden plot coordinator, said the land provides space for gardeners of all experience levels.

 

Now in its fifth year, Tadelman said participants have returned to the community garden year after year.

 

“There’s a lot of sharing that goes on of skills between the gardeners,” she said.

 

One of the plots is maintained by volunteers with the Lend a Hand Garden Club, and Tadelman said its produce will be picked and distributed to Northfield Township Food Pantry in Glenview. Wagner Farm sends excess produce from other gardeners to a local food pantry, and last year donated 870 pounds of food, she said.

 

Tadelman said the goal of the community gardening program is to teach skills in organic community gardening, promote eating healthy and local foods, and give back to the community.

 

Wagner Farm hosted its second of two forums called “How Does Your Garden Grow” on June 14. Among those in attendance was Green, who has shared plots for about four years with longtime friend Patty Baeckelandt of Glenview.

 

Green said she faced challenges in growing plants in her yard at home, from a lack of sunlight to clay-like dirt, and Baeckelandt said she didn’t have enough space for a home garden.

 

“We started out doing cucumbers, but cucumber beetles are a real problem here,” Green said. “We just found that we get the biggest bang for our bucks with tomatoes.”

 

Baeckelandt said she liked the idea of holding the forum to open up dialogue on gardening tips and getting to know the other gardeners.

 

“I learned how to solve different issues that we’ve encountered with bugs and insects, and what kind of solutions people had to offer,” she said.

 

Green said working with Patty to maintain their garden plots brings them closer together as friends.

 

“It’s nice when you’re out there, too, because people will come by and ask you things and they’ll come over and show you their garden,” Green said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

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