A growing interest in Vernon Hills community garden
Updated: February 4, 2013 1:16AM
VERNON HILLS — Only two years old, the community garden program at the Vernon Hills Park District is wildly popular.
For $35, residents can get a 15-foot by 15-foot plot to grow plants, fruits and vegetables on.
This year’s season ended on Nov. 1, but a recent program review showed a great deal of satisfaction from the two dozen participants, and mild impatience by the two dozen residents placed on a waiting list.
“Gardening is still a rumbling, under the surface hobby but it’s growing throughout the country,” Recreation Supervisor Marty Walsh said. “I think people are now realizing there’s a big disconnect between us and where our food comes from.”
The community garden first opened with 16 plots at Century Park in 2011. This year, a nine-plot garden was added at Hartmann Park.
On site, the park district provides a 300-gallon tank of water and several compost bins for weeds and grass clippings. After months of turning, the compost is returned to the gardens.
“With this year’s drought, we had to fill the water tanks three times a week,” Superintendent of Parks Michael Moorman said.
The gardeners themselves have diverse backgrounds.
Walsh said some of the participants garden as a family because the parents grew up on farms but don’t want to lose their heritage while living in a more urban area.
Other gardeners, of all ages, enjoy the hobby but live in an apartment or condo and do not have land of their own to manage.
“We even had a gentleman who was out of work and used a plot of our garden as a way to get away from the stresses of job hunting,” Walsh said.
To manage the surplus of interested residents, a lottery system was created this year and will be upheld in 2013.
Open registration will go from March 1 through March 22
Moorman did say he’d soon like to add eight more plots at Century Park, making it a 24-plot garden.
“The garden at Hartman is surrounded by pavement on three sides,” Moorman said. “We have the room at Century if we want to. We obviously have the demand for it.”
Walsh said expansion is still just an idea because the park district is seeking approval from homeowners who surround the park and experience the daily traffic.
“We always want to be a good neighbor,” Walsh said.