Leaders of Evanston Grows told residents at a 5th Ward meeting Thursday night that they’re looking for more volunteers to advance the group’s goal of building community through edible gardens.

Linnea Latimer.

Board member Linnea Latimer, a 5th Ward resident and a management analyst for the City of Evanston, said she got involved partly in hopes it would provide a volunteer opportunity for her retired mother to get out more and meet new people in the wake of the pandemic.

Latimer said the group has established several urban farm and garden sites across the city since its formation in 2021.

Mary Collins, the group’s director of strategy, said the Evanston Grows has a range of far-reaching goals, from eliminating hunger and increasing health equity to improving the environment by growing food locally and creating jobs in food production.

Mary Collins.

“We have an abundance mentality,” Collins said. “We believe we can feed everybody.”

“We’re prioritizing people who are experiencing food insecurity,” she added.

Collins said the group is slowly building its workforce development efforts, because, since it’s only two years old, it has limited resources.

“We have a small number of employees. We’re all part time. But we’ve started working with interns and we pay all of our interns,” she said.

Assembling a raised garden bed at on of the community gardens.

She added that the group is working with the Mayor’s Employment Advisory Council to develop a career pathways approach “to introducing young people to this field and pay them while they’re learning.”

The group has garden plots at a range of locations around the city — including Perry Park on Hovland Court, from which produce is distributed at the C & W Market at Church Street and Dodge Avenue on Saturday mornings.

Other gardens sites include Eggleston Park on McCormick Boulevard, the Vineyard Church on Howard Street and the Emerson Square housing development on Foster Street.

More information about the project is available on the group’s website.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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