DeKalb County Community Gardens Chosen to Be In National Grant Competition


gardensforgoodDeKalb County Community Gardens was chosen as one of 76 community gardens in Canada and the United States to compete for a $15,000 grant. The competition is sponsored by Nature’s Path food products company. For 30 years Nature’s Path, as a family owned and operated business, has become an international brand, committed to caring for the health of people and the land.

“DCCG is proud to be part of this grant competition with Nature’s Path, our organization shares many of the same values.” Said Dan Kenney, executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens.

According to their mission statement, “DeKalb County Community Gardens empowers DeKalb County residents to choose healthy and sustainable foods through community education and participation.”

The grant will be given to the community garden organization that receives the most on-line votes between June 20th and July 5th. The organization is asking for the community’s help by going to the Nature’s Path website and scrolling to the bottom of the first page and vote for DCCG. Individuals can vote multiple times every day until the 4th.

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 20 acres of growing space. In four growing seasons DCCG has produced over 65,000 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 meals on wheels program. DCCG has over 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, 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 works to train those who are homeless, and or live with special needs. Part of the Community Growers Program is to provide training, employment, outdoor experiences, and marketable skills for individuals with special needs on a working farm. 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 is also creating 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. 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.

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