Make Our Garden Grow Community Benefit Concert

The third annual “Make Our Garden Grow” benefit concert for DeKalb County Community Gardens will be held Sunday, February 19th at 3pm in Boutell Memorial Concert Hall, in NIU’s music building. An afternoon of Broadway Music will showcase excellent local talent as well as raise funds to support the work of DeKalb County Community Gardens and their Walnut Grove Vocational Farm Program for youth with special needs.

This year the concert, arranged and directed by Eric Johnson, Director of Choral Music at NIU, will include the performing ensembles of DeKalb High School, DeKalb Festival Chorus, NIU chamber and concert choirs, and the NIU University chorus. The program will also include a performance by an ensemble from Stagecoach Players.

No tickets are necessary, and donations for DeKalb County Community Gardens will be taken at the door. Also this year there will be silent auction items available. The event is sponsored by Northern Illinois University School of Music, Tapa La Luna, Egyptian Theater, Epilepsy Council of DeKalb, and 3 Roses Realty.

“This is always a very enjoyable event. It is amazing the great to hear all of the wonderful choral talent we have right here in our County. We are very grateful to Eric and all the people involved in using choral music as a way to give back to the community.” Said Dan Kenney, founder and executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens.

DeKalb County Community Gardens (DCCG) is an innovative approach to end hunger and food insecurity, while simultaneously enhancing health and providing opportunities for all DeKalb County residents to realize their full potential. DCCG accomplishes this by providing access to fresh, local, sustainably-grown organic vegetables for all who may be in need, and providing nutrition and gardening education for empowerment, food related training to low-income families enabling them to find pathways to their dreams. DCCG manages over 10 acres of growing space. In five growing seasons DCCG has produced over 100,000 pounds of fresh food donated to local food pantries, day care centers, schools, community meal locations, senior citizen centers and housing units, as well as to the Voluntary action Center meals on wheels program. DCCG has established and helps coordinate 55 gardens all across DeKalb County, with over 200 raised beds as well as large acreages. Also DCCG has a community garden on the campus of Northern Illinois University, called the NIU Communiversity Garden. In 2014, DCCG launched its Walnut Grove Vocational Farm program, a unique agriculturally centered training and educational opportunity for young individuals with special needs.

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, DeKalb County Local Food Security Council, and Live Healthy DeKalb County, as well as Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College; DCCG has over 70 partnerships and sponsors.

DeKalb County Community Gardens has also created the Community Growers Program. This program provides fresh food related training for those who are homeless, low-income, or who struggle with food insecurity.

The Walnut Grove Vocational Farm Project is a new, and exciting opportunity for the many individuals with special needs to be outdoors, and to have a meaningful way to engage in the community, to feel they are making a valuable contribution, the farm provides this pathway.

DCCG has also established and manages the Annie Glidden Community Orchard and the Five Points Food Forest. DCCG is working with partners such as the Northern Illinois Food Bank, DeKalb County, City of DeKalb, Kish Health Systems to create a Northern Illinois Regional Food Hub and Processing Center, as well as the DeKalb County Shared Dream Kitchen. 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, individuals with special needs, and building stronger sustainable communities together in the gardens. DCCG is providing an alternative to the usual means of addressing hunger with emergency relief, instead DCCG is about providing access so everyone who is able can be in control of their own food and reach a sustainable way to healthy food for themselves and their families.

DCCG does not receive any state or federal funding, all of its work and programs are carried out totally by the support of the community in the form of donations, grants, and fundraisers.

For more information visit: www.dekalbgardens.org, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Or call DeKalb County Community Gardens at 815-793-0950.

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