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New community garden plots up for grabs at Brookside Bayou

Garden plots at the new Brookside Bayou will be assigned through a lottery on Feb. 16. (Submitted by Frankfort Square Park District)

Garden plots at the new Brookside Bayou will be assigned through a lottery on Feb. 16. (Submitted by Frankfort Square Park District)

A former dump site near 191st Street and Brookside Glen Drive soon will be blooming with flowers and vegetables during the first season of community gardening at the new Brookside Bayou and Community Gardens Park.

In the past, the wetland area where the park is now located had become an unauthorized dumping spot for old tires, pallets and more, said Julie Arvia, superintendent of beautification and natural area for the Frankfort Square Park District.

But with a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the park district was able to replace the trash with a new community park.

“The restoration process has just begun,” she said. “The park looks great, but there’s a lot still to be done there.”

The park boasts 21 available garden plots available to residents, plus a boardwalk, a picnic area, horseshoes and permanent exercise equipment. Most of the park was finished last fall, but the upcoming spring will be residents’ first chance to use the gardens.

The plots were built with the population of retired residents who live in the nearby townhomes and condominium buildings in mind, Arvia said.

“This is obviously right behind them, walkable, and that was part of the allure,” she said. “Putting them in we knew we had an audience that would really be receptive to it.”

The garden plots are 10-by-10-feet and are available to Frankfort Square Park District residents. There is a good amount of interest in the plots, she said, and a lottery program has been set up to assign them to residents if more than 21 people sign up.

After the Feb. 16 lottery, the 21 residents picked to oversee the plots will be asked to submit an application and a $25 fee for the season. The gardens will be active from April to November, although Arvia said she is flexible in working with residents and how they want to use them.

“It’s kind of a work in progress,” she said. “I hope that the residents who take part in this will help me do things for them to create a really great program that will fit their needs.”

For more information or to enter the lottery, call the park district at 815-469-3524.

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