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March 10, 2009

Illinois Department of Agriculture to Plant Community Garden
Garden will be open to the public and located on Illinois State Fairgrounds

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – If you are looking for a spot to try out your green thumb, the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has just the place. IDOA is announcing the inaugural year of the Illinois State Fairgrounds Community Garden. The garden was created to give residents a space to grow fresh produce, herbs, or other flowers and plants, in a friendly and safe environment.

“Many people have indicated to us that they would like to have a garden, but they just don’t have the space,” Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said. “We decided this would be a great opportunity for the Illinois Department of Agriculture to not only offer up a great location for garden plots, but also to help create a sense of community where growers can learn from each other."

Individuals, organizations and other groups will be able to lease one or two plots, depending upon availability. The garden plots are 12’ x 12’ and cost $10.00 each, with the money collected going straight back into the garden.

“This garden will offer opportunities for ongoing education, such as mentoring programs between growers and local schools,” Jennings added.  “We also plan to offer hands-on training, through the U of I Extension Office, for everyone from novice to experienced gardeners.”

Gardeners will also have the opportunity to help out the community by participating in the Plant a Row for the Hungry program. By participating, growers will be able to donate some of the food from their garden to local food pantries.

 “I think this is a year that a lot of people are going to need additional assistance,” Master Gardener and Plant a Row for the Hungry Committee Co-Chair Barb Rogers said.  “We would be delighted to have individual growers make an effort to plant a little extra that could be donated to a local food bank.”

Those interested in becoming part of the Community Garden are urged to attend a public meeting being held at the Illinois Department of Agriculture Thursday, March 19, at 7pm. Potential gardeners will be given all the information they need at this meeting, and organizers will be present to answer questions. Information will be available on the website after the March 19 meeting at www.agr.state.il.us or by calling (217) 782-0777.

 The Illinois Department of Agriculture building is located at the corner of Sangamon Ave. and 8th Street on the Illinois State Fairgrounds inside Gate 11.


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