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Park district to open organic community garden

A 13-acre organic community garden that prohibits the use of synthetic and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides is opening in Joliet.

The garden, located on McDonough Street across from Inwood Golf Course, is believed to be the largest community garden in Joliet and among only a handful in the area. The land is part of 74 acres the park district acquired from the state and converted into 20 new soccer fields.

“We’re really excited about this,” said Debbie Greene, superintendent of the park district’s Pilcher Park Nature Center, which operates an organic community garden as part of their after-school youth program. “This is something great for the city of Joliet and the opportunity it affords people.

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 22 . Attendees will receive free heirloom seed packets, apples and hot cider. The first 100 children will get a Jack Be Little pumpkin from Dollinger Farms.

Parking for the event and gardeners is located at the River Valley Justice Center, 3200 W. McDonough St.

Almost 900 full-size garden plots, measuring 10-by-20 feet, will be available for $50 for Joliet residents and $75 for non-residents. Half-size plots, measuring 10-by-10 feet, will cost $25 for residents and $37.50 for non-residents. Raised garden plots are available for people with special needs.

Greene said the garden will prohibit the use of synthetic and chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. However, organic or natural pesticides will be allowed. Community groups are encouraged to purchase plots as well as individuals who want to supplement their garden spaces. For example, larger plants such as pumpkin and corn can be planted there.

“People can grow flowers there,” Greene said. “They can have fresh cut flowers for their house or they can grow all the flowers for their wedding.”

Applications to get a garden plot will be available starting Oct. 22 at the Provena Saint Joseph Inwood Athletic Club front desk, 3000 W. Jefferson St.

In January, the park district will start offering organic gardening classes. All plots must be planted by June 15.

For more information, call lead horticulturist Kevin Eberhard at 815-741-7278.

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