Edible Evanston, which encourages Evanston residents to grow and share locally grown food, plans to help 20 families and organizations build new vegetable gardens in the next 12 months. The group was recently awarded a grant from The Evanston Community Foundation for this new initiative.
The program is designed for Evanstonians who have thought about having their own garden but do not know how to take the first step. Low-income families are encouraged to apply, and financial support is available.
Edible Evanston will help those families selected to help build their own garden and will provide
materials (at cost or below cost for those demonstrating need) for two raised beds, soil, and some initial plants and seeds. But the garden building portion is just the beginning. Participants will also receive workshops, a manual for educational training, plus their own personal garden mentor.
Participants have obligations, too. They must provide time and labor to help build and install their own garden and provide for its ongoing care and maintenance. Their follow-up participation is required in both educational workshops and in sessions where they share successes and challenges with fellow new gardeners. These new gardeners will keep a journal of experiences, growing conditions, and harvests, which will help them in the future and help other gardeners, too. Edible Evanston will use them to track the impact of the program, showing how much produce each family has harvested, and estimating savings on food costs.
The long-term goal is to grow not just new gardeners, but new mentors and gardening evangelists who will spread these skills among their friends, neighbors and families, helping others to grow their own nutritious, fresh food.
Applications are due this Sunday, June 21, 2015, for the first phase of the program. (A second phase will take place early next spring.) The application and details (in English and Spanish) are available at edibleevanston.org