Community Action played a crucial role in the development of DeKalb County Community Gardens which began in 2012. We helped provide coordination and planning for a school and community gardens project that included multiple school districts, faith-based organizations, neighborhood groups, and corporate sponsors. We facilitated collaborations amongst community groups and organizations in order to create the infrastructure for encouraging multiple school and community gardens throughout the county.
Community Action convened a group of interested parties in pursuing the goal of promoting school and community gardens in DeKalb County and discussed potential outcomes of such an endeavor. We gathered information about school and community gardens from other communities and disseminated that information to community partners. DCCA provided information to the media about plans to pursue introduction of school and community gardens to increase awareness and participation.
As a result, community partners helped school, faith-based, and neighborhood groups plan for gardens. They coordinated access to classes provided by a master gardener to provide education about implementing and maintaining such a garden. Also, community partners defined the purpose of the school and community gardens program as a whole and assisted developers of site gardens to define appropriate outcomes for their own projects.
The following is taken from the DeKalb County Community Gardens website:
"DeKalb County Community Gardens (DCCG) is an innovative approach to end hunger and food insecurity in DeKalb County, by providing access to fresh, local, sustainably-grown organic vegetables for all who may be in need. DCCG manages over 15 acres of growing space. In two short years DCCG has produced nearly ten tons of food donated to local food pantries, day care centers, schools, community meal locations, senior citizen centers and housing units, as well as to the meals on wheels program. DCCG has gardens all over the County, with over 200 raised beds as well as large acreages.
The organization has created working partnerships with neighborhoods, schools, non-profit organizations, municipalities, County government, park districts, forest preserve district, businesses, hospitals, family health centers, foundations, and churches. DCCG is also working with Kishwaukee Family YMCA, Kish Health Systems, and Live Healthy DeKalb County, as well as Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College; DCCG has over 70 partnerships and sponsors.
DCCG is also creating a community orchard and a food forest. DCCG is working with partners to create a Northern Illinois Regional Food Hub and Processing Center. DCCG has set up seed libraries with local public libraries. Local Flavors dinners are also sponsored by DCCG; dinners that connect local chefs with local growers, to promote healthy local eating.
DCCG reaches hundreds in the County through the school and community programs, food donated, educational programs, seed saving and seed swapping events, local flavors dinners, and more. DCCG is a unique organization that brings together people who care about the environment, health and nutrition, education, economic development, and building stronger sustainable communities together in the gardens. DCCG is providing an alternative to the usual why of addressing hunger with emergency relief, instead DCCG is about providing access so everyone can be in control of their own food and reach a sustainable way to healthy food for themselves and their families."
For more information, please visit DeKalb County Community Gardens website at dekalbgardens.org.
DeKalb County Community Gardens at the Health Facility Site on Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb: