By Kristin Boza
The Edna White Community Garden, 1850 W. Monterey Ave., is known as a place to unwind, gather, and grow a variety of vegetables and plants. This year, the garden and its organizers are re-starting a vegetable growing program to benefit the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, donating fresh foods all throughout the summer and early fall.
Kathy Figel, Community Organizer for the Edna White Community Garden, has worked tirelessly to ensure the mission of the garden as an open community space has persevered, despite many obstacles over the decades. The vegetable growing and donation program is back after a hiatus, particularly now that the food pantry is in need of even more food for needful families in the 60643 and 60655 zip codes. Volunteers are greatly needed to help garden, harvest, and deliver the fresh vegetables to the Food Pantry, which is located at 110th and Longwood Drive.
“It’s relatively easy to grow vegetables in our garden; we have great soil, ample water, and full sun. The difficult part is the labor involved in picking and delivering the yield,” Figel said. “The greens especially grow so fast that you need to be out there daily to harvest them. We are asking for volunteers who have any level of experience and the time to consistently help out.”
To propel the program forward, Figel has partnered with the University of Illinois Extension, which has offered three Master Gardeners to help volunteers cultivate and harvest the crops, as well as planning the garden.
“We will pair volunteers with a Master Gardener who will teach them how to plant seeds correctly and properly harvest the plants,” Figel said. “We are growing these vegetables to help people survive, so it’s essential that we maintain a certain amount of organization! Having the knowledge from the Master Gardeners will help us greatly with what will work best in our plots.”
Aside from the plots dedicated to the food pantry, anyone in the community is welcome to rent a bed for $30 a year, plus 10 hours of community service in the garden, according to Figel. Beekeepers are also welcome for a $30 fee, and the garden is greatly stimulated by the abundance of pollinators at the site.
“The whole idea behind the garden is to cultivate community by bringing people of all walks of life together,” Figel said. “People have been practicing social distancing and cleaning up and prepping the garden in April. The beds are ready to go for planting as soon as we get an extended amount of warm weather.”
To get involved in volunteering to grow vegetables for the Maple Morgan Park Food Pantry, contact Kathy Figel, firstname.lastname@example.org, and join the Edna White Gardens group on Facebook.